Grimes has unveiled an AI voice software, Elf.Tech. The beta software invites you to record or upload vocals for regurgitation in Grimes’ own voice, employing similar technology to Holly Herndon’s Holly+. Artists can commercially release the results in exchange for half of any master-recording royalties. Grimes announced a pair of new songs, “Music for Machines” and “I Wanna Be Software,” in tandem with the launch, though their release date has not been set.
In a Twitter thread about the software, Grimes asked users to “be tasteful” but said she would only block extreme uses, such as an AI Grimes “Nazi anthem” (“unless it’s somehow in jest a la The Producers I guess”). “Baby murder songs” are also off the menu.
Through Elf.Tech, Grimes has also shared a demo of her collaborative remake of Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman track “Passage (Out).” Find it in the “Bounces” folder on the website. You can also access stems to train your own Grimes AI. The project is powered by the generative AI Triniti.
Holly Herndon, who has led conversations around AI in music, wrote of Holly+ in 2021, “Vocal deepfakes are here to stay. A balance needs to be found between protecting artists, and encouraging people to experiment with a new and exciting technology.” She framed the project as a form of “communal voice ownership,” adding that her team and the AI company Never Before Heard Sounds had “found a way to allow people to perform through my voice, reduce confusion by establishing official approval, and invite everyone to benefit from the proceeds generated from its use.” In 2022, Herndon and her partner, Mat Dryhurst, launched Spawning, an organization “building tools for artist ownership of their training data.” Their first project, haveibeentrained.com, debuted that September.
Grimes’ last release, in early 2022, was “Shinigami Eyes,” originally billed as the lead track of an EP called Fairies Cum First, which has not arrived. That was her second and last single for Columbia, with whom she signed in 2021. (That year, she also debuted a song called “100% Tragedy” during a DJ set in the virtual reality festival Splendour XR. “This song is about having to defeat azealia banks when she tried to destroy my life,” she said on the festival’s Discord.) Last month, Grimes and Columbia parted ways.
Grimes released her fifth album, Miss Anthropocene, in 2020, which she followed with a remix LP. Since then, she has written an AI lullaby, made a cheesy appearance on The Eric Andre Show, sold her soul as performance art, and had her first child.