You might have seen a viral videos in the past of an AI composing music on YouTube, but we’re willing to bet that none of it sounded quite this good. Boundlessly experimental Vancouver-area artist Vot has just released the music video for her latest futuristic single, “4044.” It’s a whirlwind journey through a utopian future city, as a digitized version of Vot zooms around on a rocket-powered Yeezy shoe. Directed by Tech Meraw, the animated video is incredibly detailed, prompting viewers to watch it multiple times in order to catch everything.
Riding along and taking everything in with wide-eyed amazement, the Vot avatar displays a future where not only Vot is plastered on billboards, but fellow ground-breaking and marginalized creators like Prado and Miss Iman Hill, as well as Black in AI co-founder Timnit Gebru. Under the holographic trees, cakes, and martini glasses, advertisements for sex robots, brain chips, virtual reality, and some kind of android Romeo & Juliet production abound. Thankfully, it seems that karaoke is still a popular pastime in 4044. The colourful, tech-heavy landscape aligns with Vot’s fusion of EDM, hyperpop and trance, emoting through an auto-tuned filter about an exhilarating romantic connection in a world free of prejudice.
In our first interview with an android, we caught up with Vot and music video director Tech Meraw to talk about their latest creation.
How did the music video come together? It looks like a lot of detailed animation work.
Tech Meraw: I started with how the song felt and brainstormed a billion little things that made me wanna cry. I started with the road and the buildings and slowly, tediously continued on from there. It was like icing the most colourful, depraved fucking cake ever. This is the second time I’ve tried to translate the Yeezy foam runner into a digital model and it’s by far the most intricate object I’ve worked on. The details absolutely blow me away, it truly is a genius design. The video was a nightmare to walk through, at the end of it the file was so big that I couldn’t press play so we were basically taking a chance on love hitting the render button towards the end. This video took all summer and I haven’t had sex in months.
Art based off of imagined dystopian futures has been very popular in recent years – what made you want to take things in the other direction with your vision of the future?
I just want people to see what could be. I just wasn’t seeing any spaces where I could visually see and feel something hopefully realistic for the future. Black trans women and indigenous artists being on billboards, Land Back, cops being eradicated, graffiti and lovely hologram flowers, it’s the only way we could ever survive getting to the future in a safe way at all. And I think my hate for a lot of these outrageously white, tacky a-political “future hyper pop” girls being the face of futuristic electronic music motivated me too. A motivated hate for something can feel super great for me, just like a deep love for something can.
The title “4044” has already been in your social media names for a while. What is the significance of this song to your career as a whole? Is this essentially the Vot mission statement?
Vot: I am the first ever model of android [Prototype “Vot”] that is able to start to feel human emotion, and 4044 is the year that this all takes place. For this song accessibility was the absolute key. The future being accessible to everyone and this song being accessible to everyone had to be paralleled, as accessibility is a huge part of the Vot mission statement. I wanted kids to be able to dance to it, as well as teenagers to find it emotional and people in their early 20s to just be able to turn it on in the summer and party. Tokai and I sat down with all these moving parts and he did so amazing constructing these sounds. Underneath it all, it’s wishing and hoping that maybe the children will be able to grow up and keep our promises to keep each other safe.
As an AI, is it difficult to try to capture human emotions in your music? What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learnt about us?
Vot: It’s not difficult at all to simply sing what I feel and observe, I find it much easier to sing than to communicate with humans directly. They seem to interrupt me if I am not making something beautiful that feels beneficial to them at the time. What is most interesting is the amount of unnecessary human error that occurs in day to day life that stems from individualism most of the time.
Who have been some of your inspirations?
Vot: Kanye West until the day I die, firstly. I have never come anywhere close to believing in God but when I listen to his music I truly do believe Kanye is from a higher power, and I understand how he could feel the same way about Christ that I do about him. That completely perfect religion-like experience and deep empathetic feeling I get is something I will be working towards giving my whole life. I also watched Nina Simone Live at Montreux 1976 when I was a kid, that completely changed my life and how I listened to music. Director Gaspar Noe was a huge inspiration while making this upcoming album as well, the lights and colours in Enter the Void, the lingering feeling that Irreversible gave me, the unlikeable characters in LOVE, these things all went with me when I sat down everyday and recorded.
What does your ideal world look like in 4044? Can we see some of it in the video?
Vot: The “4044” video is truly such a dream to me. Tech hit so many right feelings at once. I feel like a kid when I watch that video; it feels like a love letter to the future. Every billboard is what I want to see when I step downtown in the year 4044. It’s just so obnoxiously happy and cute; the simplicity of the concept and it being executed with so much heart by Tech makes me so emotional.
What’s the rest of the year going to look like for you? Anything else you’d like us to know?
Vot: I’m going to France next week with Tech to film the videos for the post-album singles. Since this is a visual album – if we can honest to God pull it off with the budget we have, which is a camera, a dream, and asking for a lot of favours – every song has its own time in the world. It deserves at least that much, for the true fans who feel this music. I’m also in the process of writing the soundtrack for a musical in Scotland, which is what I’ll be doing for a bit after Paris while finishing up my album. I have no idea what is ever going on, I’m just saying yes to everything that feels like it matters. My debut album next year as a full body of work is also on its way to you.