An AI software has written “new” songs by Nirvana, Amy Winehouse and more for a project raising awareness for the importance of mental health support.
Toronto organisation Over The Bridge has created a compilation featuring songs created via artificial intelligence in the style of musicians who died at the age of 27.
‘Drowned In The Sun – Lost Tapes Of The 27 Club’ collates those songs, which were largely created by computers, to draw attention to musicians’ struggles with depression and mental health issues, as well as the support on offer to them.
“What if all these musicians that we love had mental health support?” Sean O’Connor, a member of the board of directors for Over The Bridge told Rolling Stone. “Somehow in the music industry, [depression] is normalised and romanticised … Their music is seen as authentic suffering.”
The tracks on the compilation, which also ape the styles of Jimi Hendrix and The Doors, were made through Google’s AI programme Magenta, which analyses an artist’s previous work in order to learn how to compose like them. Another AI programme was then used to create the lyrics.
On ‘Drowned In The Sun’, the Nirvana track the AI software created, the frontman of Atlanta’s Nevermind: The Ultimate Tribute To Nirvana handled the vocals. “If you look at the last quote-unquote Nirvana release, which was, ‘You Know You’re Right,’ this has the same type of vibe,” Eric Hogan said.
“Kurt would just sort of write whatever the hell he felt like writing. And if he liked it, then that was a Nirvana song. I can hear certain things in the arrangement of [‘Drowned in the Sun’] like, ‘OK, that’s kind of an ‘In Utero’ vibe right here or a ‘Nevermind’ vibe right here. … I really understood the AI of it.”
He added: “The song is saying, ‘I’m a weirdo, but I like it,’” he says. “That is total Kurt Cobain right there. The sentiment is exactly what he would have said. ‘The sun shines on you, but I don’t know how’ — that’s great.”
Over The Bridge works to help members of the music industry deal with mental illness, offering support through workshops, Zoom sessions and more. Listen to one of the AI-created tracks above and more on the Lost Tapes Of The 27 Club YouTube page.