Paul McCartney says AI tools helped rescue John Lennon vocals for ‘last Beatles record’

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Today presenter Martha Kearney: What do you think about efforts that are being made through technology, through artificial intelligence, to recreate the early Beatles, making your voice sound younger [and] bringing those voices back from the grave?  

Paul McCartney: Well, it’s a very interesting thing, you know. It’s something we’re all sort of tackling at the moment and trying to deal with. What does it mean, you know? I don’t hear that much because I’m not on the internet that much. But people say to me, “Oh, yeah, there’s a track where John’s singing one of my songs.” And it isn’t, it’s just AI, you know. So all of that is kind of scary, but exciting because it’s the future. 

We were able to use that kind of thing when Peter Jackson did the film Get Back where it was us making the Let It Be album, and he was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette where it had John’s voice and a piano. He can separate them with AI. They tell the machine “That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.” And he did that, so it has great uses. 

So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles record — it was a demo that John had, that we worked on and we just finished it up and it’ll be released this year — we were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI, so that then we could mix the record as you would normally do. So it gives you some sort of leeway. So there’s a good side to it and then a scary side, and we’ll just have to see where that leads.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise