Being Human In An Age Of AI

(Albini, Appropriated)

Being Human In An Age Of AI (Albini, Appropriated)

Here’s a thought on my way into Epsilon Connect 2024: making art is making bridges for human connection. 

Bridges are technological in form, but connectors in function. 

All creations, no matter how technical or non-human their creators are, still need to be focused on connecting actual humans to be valued by actual humans. 

Steve Albini, an engineer by identity, got it.

From his famous letter to Nirvana, prior to agreeing to work with them on what would become In Utero, this quote is applicable in a whole new way now (my emphasis added):

#1: Most contemporary engineers and producers see a record as a “project,” and the band as only one element of the project. Further, they consider the recordings to be a controlled layering of specific sounds, each of which is under complete control from the moment the note is conceived through the final six. If the band gets pushed around in the process of making a record, so be it; as long as the “project” meets with the approval of the fellow in control.

My approach is exactly the opposite.

I consider the band the most important thing, as the creative entity that spawned both the band’s personality and style and as the social entity that exists 24 hours out of each day. I do not consider it my place to tell you what to do or how to play. I’m quite willing to let my opinions be heard (if I think the band is making beautiful progress or a heaving mistake, I consider it part of my job to tell them) but if the band decides to pursue something, I’ll see that it gets done.

I like to leave room for accidents or chaos. Making a seamless record, where every note and syllable is in place and every bass drum is identical, is no trick. Any idiot with the patience and the budget to allow such foolishness can do it. I prefer to work on records that aspire to greater things, like originality, personality and enthusiasm. If every element of the music and dynamics of a band is controlled by click tracks, computers, automated mixes, gates, samplers and sequencers, then the record may not be incompetent, but it certainly won’t be exceptional. It will also bear very little relationship to the live band, which is what all this hooey is supposed to be about.

Whatever tools you want to use, build bridges. 

Anything that isn’t building bridges, isn’t adding to humanity. 

Leave room for accidents and chaos, aspire to greater things likes originality, personality, and enthusiasm, and above all, be exceptional. 

Ps. if you want to read more thoughts on the letter and the letter itself, read this post: Steve Albini Wanted To Be Paid Like A Plumber