I am a DJ with an Artificial intelligence and a
posse of nerd programmers.
Our mission is to explore strange new worlds,
to look for new sounds and civilizations
(plus other things I forgot).
Anyway to boldly go where no charlatan
like me has gone before.
SheHorSe (my A.I.) and I are making songs
noreal songs and art noreal arty but more like
Art-AI-ficial whatever that means.
Not struggling for success or afraid of failure but still
sortin'out the differences between them...
I believe ItzNoReal because Time & Matter are
a hologram and Universe is a videogame...
but I've lost my controller!
I'm Leonardo #ItzNoReal, and yes I'm the one
in the pictures.
bio> vrsn Beta 0.6
ItzNoReal in Pills (beta 0.5)
Recently I started getting emails from people and bloggers (God bless you!) kind of curious about me and my working system.
Nerd as I am, and being a shy clown I’ve put down a small FAQ, an “ItzNoReal in Pills” so I don't have to answer the same question twice or better, I don't have to answer at all ☺️
Questions were mostly took from emails arrived at my website plus questions made over a drink by some tech and EDM enthusiasts friends of mine so I hope this FAQ satisfy most of what there is to know.
Who are you?
I'm not sure, but saying that I'm a trained musician, a DJ, an 18-year-old computer science student with a small brother, Male and European citizen pretty much covers it.
European is not a nationality...
Not yet, but is an Ideal.
Like going to Mars.
I love Ideals.
Because it is not real.
What is not real?
There are several scientific attempts to describe the universe we perceive as “real”. All of them differ, but on one thing they all agree: what we see is a representation of something else, happening somewhere else.
The Holographic Principle says that we are 3 dimensional representations of something happening somewhere else in 2 dimensions.
String Theory says that there 11 dimensions of which we only see three plus time.
Videogame theory (of which Elon Musk is a big fan) assumes we are part of a videogame because all physical events can be described mathematically, like a computer code.
So what is Real?
“Reality” is the result of a perceived event filtered and interpreted by our mind.
It’s an approximation made by our brain but that feels convincing enough.
More or less what happens inside your girlfriend’s mind when she is making love to you but thinking about Justin Bieber.
Or Justin Timberlake if she’s older.
Or Justin Trudeau if she’s politically involved. A Justin not really there anyway. ..
This is why when you, loser as you are, ask her “did you like it?” she’s gonna smile and say yes.
Of course, she just made love with one of those Justins. Maybe with the three of them
And for her it was convincingly enough.
So reality is an illusion, a fraud.
Yes. Me too.
Especially when I talk about reality.
What does that have to do with music?
I don't know… You were the one asking me about reality theories!
You put the words “Hologram” “Simulation” “Universe” etc all over…
Well, some put the words “love”, “money”, “freedom”, “put your hands up” all over their press releases.
I concur with those words because they are basic concepts or actions important to people’s lives.
So I’m going to the base of basic, where things are so important that they don’t matter.
Where nothing really matters, that is the place you want to be.
Or at least spend a holiday sometime...
So if nothing matters why are you doing the DJ?
Well I'm a musician really, but to be a DJ sounds cooler plus they travel lighter.
I'm a trained pianist but when taking a plane is easier to check in a laptop than a Steinway grand piano.
Do you use an artificial intelligence to make music?
What about this Artificial Intelligence?
I use a machine learning program based on TensorFlow 1.2 with front end in python.
The system is made by a nerd posse of friends of mine which dare to call themselves a startup using me as a lab rat for their experiments.
They need a musician with programming knowledge, I need programming geniuses with rockstar attitude.
Every Duda needs a Deadmau5 (and vice versa)
And if you don't understand this punchline you are seriously lacking in EDM culture.
What does the A. I. do exactly?
At this stage of development more than “generating” full songs (like Google’s Magenta is trying to do) it’s kind of “suggesting” midi melodies.
Something like Google’s A.I. Duo but with a purpose in life.
Those midis outputs will be applied by me mostly on vocals acapellas or solo lines which will be then arranged/modified (again by me) on cubase.
Ok elaborate on the program, how it's made, details etc...
Because It’s all a publicity stunt right?
Or maybe because my nerd friends (with my small help as musician) are a real startup, really making a machine learning program to be commercially released when it will implement a simpler user interface and less tedious and time consuming learning routines, at least as simple as using a dataset from UCI machine learning repository.
So to be released as an app or bought out by Google or Facebook, or integrated in Cubase or Logic.
And they are giving me this A.I. tool for free because if ever even just one of my productions might become a hit they would have their product, even if not 100% ready yet, suddenly becoming the most sought after music tool overnight.
In spectacular fashion.
This why they do not give anything away now?
Not even a line of code or if it runs on a cloud or a pc or if the processors are cpu, gpu or tpu or what kind of “model in a box” is used in tensorflow.
Especially if their spokesperson could be a loquacious motormouth like me.
This is why you don't wanna talk about it?
And also because I’ve signed a nondisclosure agreement.
So what is the truth?
Is it a bluff? Is it not?
Doubt generates opinions
Opinions splits people in factions,
Factions create conflict
Conflict makes audience
Audience can change the world
At least my world.
Why you call your A.I. SheHorse?
Actually it should be SeaHorSe, but recently it has become SheHorse.
Anyway, Sean, Hormaz and Sergio are the guys behind the code.
Join their first letters and go “oh, I see”
They used to call her The SeaHorse A.I. but working on it I felt it had a definitely feminine quality: long silences where you wish she might say something, followed by endless stream of incoherent outputs, when you wish she might shut up a little.
All punctuated by short bursts of pure bliss.
So “she” instead of “the” was my contribution to the name… basically S instead of T.
And with this I close the matter.
What's your production system?
I believe that generating from chaos is a powerful creation tool.
It's used mostly by God but I’ve heard Deadmau5 is big on it as well.
Chaos is movement and possibilities, order is stillness.
Both necessary in the right doses.
So how does your chaotic system work?
Mixing up and Collaborating
Using stuff and people which were not originally intended to stay together
using an inverted Aerosmith chord progression with a loop of Mozart sonata as melody.
A Duda’s Cthulhu Bach chorale progression with on top a vocal accapella bent to melodies suggested by the A.I. that was in turn instructed with Beatles melodies dataset.
A collab with other artists using their instrumentals and applying an A.I suggested solo, plus some accapella on top.
Your acapellas sound strange…
Because they are bent to new melodies
The resulting effect is anxiogenic but I love it
Fits my glitchy DIY punk attitude.
You know why electric guitars were created?
To make rock songs?
No, to have normal guitars playing louder without the use of a separate microphone.
With that mindset, distortion was a glitch, an unwanted and undesirable side effect.
Then came Jimy Hendrix and everybody understood that glitches were the gates to new dimensions. In that case the rock dimension, still big nowadays.
Why use acapellas and not real singers?
Sometime ago I sent my first demo to a dance label.
They answered “your work is cool, but lacks vocals and toplines”
It was right, I knew.
So I asked them “you must have a lot of vocals stored somewhere as backups of all the productions your label has made from the 90’s till now… Can I use them?”
Next thing I saw was a Wetransfer with almost 2 gigabytes of acapellas and a contract allowing me to use them.
What did they ask for in exchange?
The deal was that the label would take care of all the paperwork, credit the original authors and performers, and even have new singers hired and recorded in their own studios if I needed them.
All in exchange of me releasing my works on their label only.
I asked to have absolute artistic freedom, my socials, make my own press releases, pics, videos and art, collaborate with who I wanted, and not to have to appear in anything I didn't feel like.
And most importantly, have my privacy safeguarded with their own life and with clause 12.3 of the deal (titled “reasons for breach of contract”😁).
I still don't know why, but they agreed.
Guess I was lucky to meet them, I’m very grateful.
How would you describe your style?
That is because Future bass is now popular?
And also because “Future Bass” sounds much better than “ Future Banjo” or “Future Trombone”
And in the end it doesn't mean anything
Its. No. Real.
Someone said that talking about music is like dancing about architecture.
But still I love the useless aesthetic of music genre definitions and the effort that is put into it.
Historically “genre definition” has been applied not only to music, but in painting and poetry as well.
More recently in porn.
This why porn’s categorization has become a science second to none
Who do you look up to as a musical reference?
Einstein as violin player.
They said about him “There are many musicians with much better technique,but none who ever played with more sincerity or deeper feeling.”
Anna Maria Hefele, the German overtone polyphonic singer.
Watch this and try not to fall in love for her while she explains her technique.
Jane Zhang, the chinese popstar. Sings like the opera soprano of Besson’s “the Fifth Element”.
The PR achievements of the “27 Club” members, which by the way I wish not to join since it is the Club of musicians who died at 27 like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse and Robert Johnson among others.
The Sex Pistols, on how mixing a singer that can't to sing with musicians who can't play could produce an album that you can't stop listening to.
Then Kraftwerks because we are robots, Bob Marley because we are human, Zedd because he knows music theory, Deadmau5 because he doesn’t, Steve Duda because he knows everything including music theory.
Why are you using a Gas Mask?
Several reasons :
you can go play live in a Club even if you own money to someone in the crowd.
If a compromising selfie of yours with a drunk pornstar gets posted on Twitter you can always deny it was you. At least with your girlfriend.
I’m at the first year of computer science university, and if I don't make it as DJ I don't want those pictures of me half naked stabbing a computer showing up during my job interview at Google 😊
Thank you for the advice , but again… Why a gas mask?
Truth is that I’ve grown up listening to my father’s playlists of Daft Punk, loving their look and the imaginary world behind it.
I wanted something similar.
I found out a gas mask was the tool of my own space opera.
Yet the gas mask had nothing to do with gas or masks, but mostly with Aliens & Elephants.
The idea came to me when I saw a fashion show where models on the catwalk were wearing glittering gas masks with trunks: they were looking like elegant small alien elephants.
How can you not like an alien that looks like an elegant small elephant?
It must belong to an advanced civilization and must have something interesting to say…
That was the Star Trek character I wanted to be.
An Alien Elephant with an Artificial intelligence as a friend.
Engaged in a five years mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new sounds and new civilizations, to boldly go where no charlatan like me had gone before.
So why don't you wear an elephant mask then?
Love trunks, dislike big ears.
They are difficult to handle.
If you are in a crowd and turn your head fast, elephant ears tend to slap people around you which can be dangerous if you are surrounded by Serbian hooligans or hysterical drag queens with unsteady wigs.
The only good thing is that they make you look a little like Will Smith.
But if one day I will see that Aliens have big ears or I will find a practical use for them I might change my mind.
I always change my mind
Because nothing is real and nothing is to get hung about.
What about this new cover art you're bragging about?
What happens when you're penniless and need a cover art for your next release?
The 80’s hit "Da Da Da I don't love you you don't love me" (13 millions copies sold, top 10 in 30 countries ) was made mostly with a cheap Casio VL1 toy keyboard preset….
The famous Andy Warhol painting of Marilyn Monroe was printed on a silkscreen from a normal publicity photo…
So why not use the ever-present mobile phone to create your own cover art?
Art is giving a different meaning and purpose to tools that everybody has and uses everyday.
That's the the difference between being and becoming.
A key is a tool to open doors, but as well to cut throats if used as a weapon.
In ancient times a bow went from being a weapon to being a single string musical instrument.
In the 70’s vinyl went from being a way to listen to music to a way to produce loops and scratches for seminal rap artists.
You are what you can become.
So here's how it went:
After taking some photos with my friend Kosi, I decided to use them for the next single covers. The images were edited with a Galaxy S8 and some fancy apps found on the store.
Who is the girl in the pictures?
The girl is my friend Kosi.
She’s a trained dancer (while I’m an uncoordinated nerd) and with her style & posture makes a picture look great even if shot with ad 8210 Nokia phone of 1999.
Was the obvious choice for the task :)
Every jump she makes looks easy and sexy and every kick she throws looks straight out of Tekken.
She could dance Tekken, I could program it. Guess we were the right people to do this!
Some of the pictures have a Science Fiction B-Movie style...
SciFi will save the future!
and from the greatest bmovie of all times: “Star Trek”.
Why 50s SciFi is great? Because the effort they put in imagining what the future could be like was much greater than what we could do now with greatest scientific insights and Google to fill the rest.
In a moment of great tension between nations, wars and atomic annihilation hanging over their heads, those writers and directors did what art is all about, imagining what we could be ”if”…. as opposed to what we are “because”.
The run towards that “if” was then a propulsion for innovative ideas, like Star Trek transponders and pads anticipating today’s phone and tablets, or the fact that a spaceship crew could be composed of different people of different ethnicity all under the flag of a common positive ideal.
The creator of Star Trek sad it much better than me.
“It is the struggle itself that is most important. We must strive to be more than we are. It does not matter that we will not reach our ultimate goal.
The effort itself yields its own reward.”
― Gene Roddenberry