A great interview in Billboard with former The Rapture frontman, who now lives in New York, and works as a life coach, and enjoys it very much. “As a singer and songwriter you get very narcissistic, and you get up on stage, and everyone validates that through applause and large amounts of money and meeting other celebrities and fancy meals around the world. So, being a coach is actually very healing, because it is the polar opposite of that.” What are his credentials for the job? "I have a long, successful marriage. I’m a good parent. I have gotten over massive childhood dysfunction, sexual abuse, multiple suicides in my family, drug addiction in my family, my own addictions, on and on. That’s my business car."

Andy Chatterley of MUSO, a London-headquartered technology firm providing anti-piracy services and market analytics for music companies, discusses the hot topic of the recent "fake Drake" song that appeared on streaming platforms, only to be soon taken down from them.

He's got a few questions about it:

  • "How can we be certain the ‘fake Drake’ track is AI and not a canny marketing tool?
  • If this is indeed AI, [and] if musicians and/or content creators are being used as source data for an AI model, should they be compensated?
  • How do you prove, as a creator, that your work has been used as source material for AI?
  • Who owns the AI in any given case?
  • How do you sue something that has no name, no social security number and no company number?
  • Do you sue the prompt engineer who inputs the command to make the track?"

An amazing story by Ted Gioia, who has discovered, with a little help from other music lovers, a song that has over 50 different titles, and over 50 different writers credits attributed to it on Spotify. There were other instances of the same phenomena on other streaming platforms, with other songs as well (mostly short and lousy). What's going on? "Spotify may be working to switch listeners from songs released by major labels to generative music, which could be licensed at low royalty rates or even purchased as a work-for-hire. Under this scenario, a streaming platform could lower its costs substantially, and improve profitability—but with the result of less money paid to flesh-and-blood musicians."

A great video by the touring musician Adam Neely who brings out the pain and stress of having to give away a precious instrument to airline workers and just hope it'll come safe and sound to the destination. Neely gives advice on how to try and protect it, and how to talk to flight attendants in order to have the instrument treated as hand luggage.

People engaged in making music are at a higher risk for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, according to researchers at Frankfurt’s Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics. Results of the study suggest there is an overlap between inherited genetic variants associated with a tendency to make music, and those that increase the risk for mental illness. Van Magazine talked to Laura Wesseldijk, one of the authors of the study, herself a musician too.

"For all its ostensible simplicity, techno is a genre with a complicated history that can mutate and shift depending on whom you’re talking to" - The New Yorker looks into the origins of techno music. The author finds the first threads both in Detroit and Frankfurt, however, it points out that many techno pioneers feel that Black and queer artists in Detroit have been overlooked at the recently opened Museum of Modern Electronic Music (MOMEM) in Frankfurt’s Hauptwache square,

Understanding a mockingbird

Soundfly: Why do birds (actually) sing?

Online music school Soundfly shares an interesting article about birds' singing and why they do it. Soundfly is looking for reasons for the beautiful bird habit, such as trying to draw attention, communicating, avoiding troubles, or just having pure fun.

The MusicREDEF newsletter author shares his thoughts on the latest developments regarding A.I., trying to keep up with the subject: "I can imagine 'a future where Drake licenses his voice, and gets royalties or the rights to songs from anyone who uses it.' But I'm not looking forward to that future, and I’m all for resisting it. I want a future where artists freely use AI (as much or as little as they choose), not a future where AI freely uses artists."

Music writer Ted Gioia shares a news section from his new book 'Music to Raise the Dead' about musicians being the first heroes, and songs as their superpower. He based his theory on ancient texts from Mahābhārata, the Bible, and others. How did it come to this? "Songs tap into a power that transcends representation... For many individuals, music is their only pathway into ecstatic mindstates. And even for the adept who has mastered the journey, the song is often the most important thing brought back from the trip—or, in many cases, music served as the engine that propelled it forward in the first place."

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Greenday

The 50 best stoner albums

4/20 - the international counterculture holiday based on the celebration and consumption of cannabis - is coming, so Consequence marijuana lovers have put together "an essential list of the 50 Best Stoner Albums from the worlds of pop, hip-hop, electronic, rock, and heavy metal". The list starts with Black Sabbath's 'Master of Reality', and finishes with Tame Impala's 'Lonerism'.

The music writer and romance expert is trying to understand and/or explain why do young people see jazz as romantic: "Romance has been rationalized in our lives, much like a factory process. All the unnecessary steps get bypassed. And from a purely pragmatic point of view, swiping through profiles on a phone app seems far more efficient than a slow, ritualized process of courtship and romantic bonding... There’s a death of enchantment in our culture—that’s the best term I can come up with for this phenomenon... In this situation, jazz starts to play an unusual role. It gets associated with the last generation that did romantic body-contact dancing on a regular basis. It’s perceived as the soundtrack for the ritualized apparatus of courtship. Just hearing it magically summons a nostalgic longing for a more romantic age".

Reclusive West London-bred singer and producer Jai Paul performed his first-ever live set at Coachella’s Mojave stage last weekend, only one of the most anticipated gigs of the year. Jai Paul has released three singles in 12 years, yet he has climbed to cult-like status, although, or maybe thanks to, withdrawing from the public in general. It seems, however, he is relaunching his career - Jai Paul is set to play two consecutive nights in New York at Knockdown Centre on 25 April and 26 April at Brooklyn Steel, and in London on 9 and 10 May at underground venue space HERE at Outernet.

After a few A.I.-generated songs that sound like Drake, The Deeknd, and Ice Spice appeared online, the music industry reacted with demands for these songs to be blocked on streaming services. "This feels like Napster in 1999. New technology is here and the industry’s protocol is to resist" - Dan Runcie points out in his memo, suggesting the labels shouldn't fight back, but rather embrace it. "It’s in the superstar artist and record label’s best interest to enable experimentation—as long as there’s a fair way to compensate the artist and rights holder. Their work would be the most-accessed music for generative songs anyway, so why not lean in?".

The Face is wondering whether artificial intelligence is going to take our jobs: "Again, as long as we value human emotion, creativity and connection, there’s only so far AI can take us. Like music, for example. Sure, AI can churn out catchy TikTok songs which makes for genuine competition when it comes to already-manufactured pop tunes. But we value music for the meaning, person and creativity behind it, all of which would be massively diluted if made by robots, who, to put it simply, can’t feel anything. That goes for DJs, too. We happily pay to watch a human spin some tracks in a sweaty club – would you pay to listen to a machine to the same?".

"It started off as a little exercise during lockdown keeping me busy and bringing all these musicians on board and as it grew into an album... With every contribution someone would send me, it was always surprising because it always changed the song completely and did something that I wouldn’t have predicted. It still feels like this magical thing" - comedian and musician James Acaster says to The New Cue about his project Temps, which is about to release its debut 'Party Gator Purgatory'. There are about 40 musicians collaborating on the album - including Open Mike Eagle, Joana Gomila, NNAMDI, Shamir, Quelle Chris - with Acaster acting as a producer/director. It's a versatile album - "I think now, anyone who engages in current music appreciates that genre is a thing of the past and the best music is just completely boundless", with one connecting thread - "mostly what I was doing with this was to tailor it to my exact music tastes and having everything that I liked in music in just one thing".

Ted Gioia wrote a great obituary to jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, who died on Sunday aged 92: "Other musicians have changed the sound of jazz in various ways. But Ahmad Jamal actually transformed time and space. He opened up an alternative universe of sound, freer and less constrained than what we had heard before. The rules of improvised music were different after he appeared on the scene... Ahmad Jamal sat down at the piano, and just floated over the beat."

"Unlike other trends and even other festivals, Coachella developed a brand that can sell itself. This festival could sell out tickets before announcing a lineup if it wanted to. Fans want the vibes. The influencers, fashion, and activations will be there regardless of who performs on stage. In the early 2010s, the festival became a who’s who for celebrity attendance. Attending was a flex, like sitting courtside at a Lakers game" - Trapital's Dan Runcie looks into Coachella in his latest podcast. He is joined by Tati Cirisano from MIDiA Research. They also talk about untapped opportunities for Coachella, how the rise of concert ticket prices impacts it, and how festival lineups are becoming homogenous.

Folk music legend Joan Baez met two members of the Tennesee Three on a flight from Nashville to Newark on Sunday, and reacted upon her activist impulse. Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were recently expelled from the Tennessee legislature over their participation in a gun control protest, This week both have officially been reinstated to their old seats. On Sunday, when the plane landed in Newark, Baez sang two songs with Jones, the traditional freedom songs 'We Shall Overcome' and 'Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round'.

Michelle Lhooq talks to writer and scholar McKenzie Wark in her latest memo about raving culture, ravers, and what it means to different people. "If I go to the rave at four or five in the morning, it's a lot of people who do service work, and are used to being nice to people all day. There’s also sex workers, who similarly are having to use their body, their subjectivity, and their emotions in service of the job. They go to a space to get out of that. Then there are people like me—'intellectual workers'... When I’m in rave spaces, language is going on in my head, but I'm not paying attention to it. It's just there but I'm not in it". She also talks about being connected - "I don't think it's a bad thing for people to learn to be intimate with each other on the dance floor, in close proximity, to be vulnerable to each other. Sometimes, it makes very weak networks. But even those are not bad things to have. There's people around that you're gonna see in other contexts and you just know a little about each other. Yeah, it's not the revolution. It's not utopia. But it's not nothing".

Rock icon Nick Cave talked with 'UnHerd' host Freddie Sayers to discuss his book, 'Faith, Hope and Carnage,' saying that he sees human beings in a completely different way than he did early in his career, and said he is now a "more complete person." Sayers noted that the punk rocker turned "church-going person" might seem unrecognizable, but Cave said he simply gets a delight by "f-----g with people" and "living outside the expectation" of others. Today, for Cave, an avid church-goer, it means "you go to church and be a conservative". Cave also talks a lot about cancel culture and censorship.

Paul Simon has announced his new album 'Seven Psalms', out May 19, which came to him in a dream, Variety reports. On January 15th, 2018, Simon says he had a dream that said "You're working on a thing called 'Seven Psalms'", he wrote it down, without knowing what it meant. Gradually, he would wake up a few times a week at 3.30, and words would come (his debut album in Simon & Garfunkel, was of course titled 'Wednesday Mornin, 3 A.M.'). The album is a 33-minute, seven-movement collection intended to be heard as one continuous piece. Simon shares a video about the album, a trailer for an upcoming documentary about the album’s creation.

Bandcamp's Brad Sanders wrote an essay about growing up in sports, replacing them with music, learning to love running, and, with a little help from the post-metal band Russian Circles, how the two tightly connect. "I log all my runs in the Strava app, and in the description field for each run, I always include what I listened to while I was out on the road. It’s a formal way to acknowledge what Russian Circles taught me years ago, that the music that feeds my soul and the movement that feeds my body can–and indeed must–peaceably coexist."

"For the fourth year in a row, they’ve outdone themselves. The epic songs are more epic, the pop songs poppier, the country-fried desolation more potent and immersive" - Stereogum argues in favor of their latest Album of the week, 'Rat Saw God' by Wednesday. Rolling Stone writes lovingly that "the North Carolina band thrives on a huge guitar sound and the great songwriting of Karly Hartzman," whereas Consequence sees a beginning of something really big - "call it country-gaze, bubble-grunge, or skip the genre classifications altogether, the project is 10 tracks of immaculate songwriting, big ideas, and sheer character". Pitchfork tagged it Best New Music, because "their outstanding new album is why they’re one of the best indie rock bands around".

"Each chapter is filled to the brim with insights, new information, and powerful writing. McCormick clearly had high literary aspirations at this juncture in his life. I suspect that he was trying to capture something similar to Truman Capote’s 'In Cold Blood', the most celebrated ‘true crime’ book of the era. McCormick presents himself in these pages as a musical detective on the trail of the most elusive guitarist in history, and successfully conveys all the uncertainty and suspense of his investigation" - music writer Ted Gioia presents 'Biography of a Phantom: A Robert Johnson Blues Odyssey', a book about the famous delta blues guitarist written by his friend Mack McCormick. The published book is the early version of the manuscript. The later version argued that Mississippi guitarist named Robert Johnson—admired all over the world today—didn’t actually make those famous blues recordings or anything really. Gioia explains.

"[Nowadays] It feels like if you have a musical group it must be centered around the vocalist. If we measure the average percent of instrumental content per Billboard number hit between 1940 and 2021, we see demonstrable evidence for not just the decline of the instrumental superstar but the instrumentalist generally, with the sharpest declines beginning in the 1950s and the 1990s" - Chris Dalla Riva points out. He offers an explanation: "I believe it comes down to four factors: improved technology, the 1942 musicians’ strike, WWII, television, and hip-hop."

Madison McFerrin

"This is all about music discovery—and I’m excited to tell you about a few favorite artists you might not encounter elsewhere" - music writer Ted Gioia announces his list of 30 most intriguing new musicians. "It’s a cranky and deeply personal list", Gioia warns. Some of chosen ones are Hania Rani, singer-songwriter from Gdansk; Madison McFerrin, a pianist from a family of musicians; Sam Gendel - a versatile multi-instrumentalist.

"There’s a real depth to Heartworms’ music that matches the image, and proves her to be a true and powerful outlier of her time" - NME is delighted with the debut EP by Heartworms, London goth/post-punk band. Fronted by musician and poet Jojo Orme, formed in 2020, their 4-song introductory release ‘A Comforting Notion’ feels "urgent and important, brimming with all the promise of the next great cult act." DIY Mag feels similar about her: "a Seriously Fucking Cool new artist with vision and formidable talent to her name."

AI Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

AI at work: Kanye West dissing Kanye West

AI developer Robert Nickson has recorded a track AI has produced replicating Kanye West's voice in order to diss the rapper. Nickson recorded a verse and had a trained AI model of Kanye replace his vocals. The results are quite impressive, or frightening, depending on how you take it.

Martin Hibbert

Martin and Eve Hibbert, a father and daughter who suffered disabilities from the May 2017 terror attack outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, are suing conspiracy theorist Richard D Hall for defamation and harassment, BBC reports. Hall has promoted the theory that the Manchester Arena bombing, which left 22 people dead, that the attack never happened and reportedly admitted to spying on the victims. Hibbert and his daughter Eve, who was 14 at the time, were standing about 5 meters from the bomb when it exploded, per the report, and both required wheelchairs after the blast. The lawsuit is the first of its kind to be filed in the U.K. against a conspiracy theorist.

Indie powerhouse Dead Oceans is about to release 'Rat Saw God', Wednesday’s new album, their fourth in as many years, and fifth in general. The LP was announced with a thunderous teaser-track 'Bull Believer', an eight-minute powerhouse. Friday is the day.

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Japan boy band King & Prince have set the record for 2023’s fastest-selling album in Japan, with their compilation album, 'Mr.5', selling more than 1.2 million physical copies in its first week, MBW reports. The ‘best of’ album also became the first album of 2023 to sell more than one million copies during its first week in Japan. On April 26, King & Prince sold over 1 million CD copies of their single 'Life Goes On' in its first week, which was the first time in three years that sales threshold was crossed.

Google's experimental AI tool that can generate high-fidelity music from text prompts and humming, MusicLM, has been made available to the public to test out, TechCrunch reports. Google explains that the tool works by typing in a prompt like “soulful jazz for a dinner party”. MusicLM will then create two versions of the requested song. The person can then vote on which one they prefer, which Google says will “help improve the AI model”.

A great long-read in the Mix Mag which explores the connection between the rising living costs and the downfall of clubbing. It also takes into account the societal, political, and behavioral factors, and sets forth some ideas as to how to deal with it. Finally, it tries to guess what this change will mean in the broader society.

SoundCloud is rolling out a new tool Fans that lets artists use the service’s proprietary data to discover and connect directly with their most-engaged fans on the platform. The tool has been used in beta by 10,000 artists enabling them to direct message (DM) superfans with the option to attach a track to these communications. This week, SoundCloud is expanding the beta availability of its ‘Fans’ feature to more than 50,000 Next Pro artists.

Zack de la Rocha of RATM / Missy Elliott / Kate Bush / George Michael

Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, and the Spinners will be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the Performer category. Chaka Khan, Al Kooper, and Bernie Taupin will receive the Musical Excellence Award, DJ Kool Herc and Link Wray will be presented with the Musical Influence Award, and Don Cornelius is getting the Ahmet Ertegun Award, Billboard reports. Rolling Stone is angry - the classic rock media insists heavy metal should get its proper number of places in the Hall of Fame.

Pitchfork made a selection of eight songs that established Gordon Lightfoot "as a force in the United States and his native Canada—the songs that capture his essence". The New York Times has also made a selection, of 10 tracks. Guardian shares a short biography, full of famous admirers.

"Do you remember when the guitar was a wild, unpredictable instrument? (...) Well, Daniel Champagne still plays the guitar in that bold, unconstrained way" - Ted Gioia recommends the Australian guitarist (now living in Nashville). "You feel as if he just invented the instrument yesterday and was discovering its possibilities afresh. And I haven’t even started telling you about his singing and songwriting—but go find out for yourself."

"Italy's politically radical clubs of the '60s, New York City's disco scene, Detroit and Chicago's house and techno paradises, Ibiza's counterculture communal retreats, Britain's rave culture, and Berlin's techno scene" find their place in the new book 'Temporary Pleasure: Nightclub Architecture, Design and Culture from the 1960s to Today' by John Leo Gillen, who insists that the industry’s ​“one constant is change”. "The book wants to transform our expectations of club spaces. With cities, scenes and clubs in constant flux, they suggest we embrace that ephemerality through extensive photos and interviews" - The Face points out.

A federal jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Fugees rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel on charges including conspiracy, witness tampering, and failing to register as an agent of China, CNN reports. Prosecutors alleged that Malaysian fugitive businessman Jho Low paid Pras roughly $100 million to influence American politics, first with illegal political payments intended to support Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012, and later to influence Donald J. Trump and his administration to end a Department of Justice investigation into Jho Low. Leonardo DiCaprio was called as a witness during the trial due to his connection with Jho Low, who helped finance DiCaprio’s film 'The Wolf of Wall Street'. Pras Michel faces up to 20 years in prison.

A tech startup called Beatly has launched what it says is a decentralized platform where it claims "people can put their music up without being taken down". In a post on Product Hunt, one of the platform's founders, Alexander Zwerner, insists that the startup "understand[s] how important it is for this AI music to have a safe and reliable platform to be shared with the world. That's why we've developed a decentralized hosting structure that backups and ensures your music will never be taken down".

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