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14 Grimes at The Fox by Ian Young

Grimes wants "clarity" after Zola Jesus says her interview on AI has "whiffs of technofacism"

25 November 2019, 12:33 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

Grimes has said she wants "clarity" after Zola Jesus said a recent interview with her has "hard whiffs of technofascism".

Last week, Grimes, aka c, appeared on a new episode of Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast, where she discussed her opinion on artificial intelligence and how it will have an impact on the music industry.

Grimes told Carroll, "I think live music is going to be obsolete soon...DJs get paid more than real musicians. It’s kinda like Instagram or whatever. People are actually just gravitating towards the clean, finished, fake world. Everyone wants to be in a simulation. They don’t actually want the real world. Even if they think they do and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, cool, live music!’ If you actually look at actual numbers of things, everyone’s gravitating towards the shimmery perfected Photoshop world."

Since the podcast episode was released, Zola Jesus posted her thoughts on Twitter about the interview, stating that there's "no beef", and that she's just "trying to re-animate the dying corpse of the only thing that gives me pure meaning and joy is all."

Devon Welsh, the former Magical Cloudz frontman, and longtime Grimes collaborator, also shared his thoughts about the interview over the weekend, writing on Twitter, "Silicon-fascism is real, and has a vested interest in framing technological domination as the "natural progression" of things. It isn't, and I think most of us are not interested in being owned by unelected Silicon Valley kings. Live music is spiritually important. We need it."

He added, "Glad the Grimes interview has sparked a conversation. Ask yourself, what side are you on? Silicon Valley fascism and the bird's-eye view of billionaires? Music has been our spiritual lifeblood since forever. We have the choice to continue that, but it involves taking a stand."

Over the weekend, Grimes responded to Zola Jesus' comments in a thread of points, first stating that she agrees with the musician. The "Violence" singer goes on two write that "technology has always changed the way we make/ consume music and it’s not going to stop here. Where could it go and what are the potential positive outcomes? We can’t prevent bad outcomes if we don’t start envisioning good outcomes."

c adds, "technology is democratizing music! Ppl r making stunning art on laptops with no music education. more people making music = more art in the world = net positive. I’d argue we’re in the midst of an incredible creative explosion largely driven by accessible music technologies."

She goes on to write that she doesn't think "we shouldn’t engage in thought experiments of what could happen in the future", and adds that "the term obsolete is prob p aggressive, I was just riffing", and asks for Zola Jesus to respond.

Grimes added, "I would like clarity on the use of the term fascist tho haha."

Since Grimes' comments, Zola Jesus defined "silicon fascist privilege" to Grimes on Twitter, and Welsh brought up Grimes' Apple "Behind the Mac" billboard in Montreal, stating it "loomed over Mile-End in Montreal, the neighborhood where our shared music community used to be located. Also this is context for listening to musings about the end of live music & AI supremacy."

On Saturday (23 November), Zola Jesus wrote after defining the term "silicon fascist privilege", "not necessarily saying you are that, because i don’t know you and i give the benefit of the doubt that a lot of your dialogue might be role play, but that interview had hard whiffs of technofascism."

Zola Jesus also went on to say that Grimes' comments "seems entitled and ungrateful", and adds, "i totally agree that AI can and has been used as a tool to make art in beautiful ways. i also agree it’s important to discuss what possible futures are. but art is not always bound to tech innovation. otherwise, why would i train to be an opera singer when microphones exist?"

Grimes hit back again hours later, writing, "I’m not saying we *should* kill the old, I’m just saying it might happen whether we like it or not, I guess."

Grimes' new album Miss Anthropocene will be dropping via 4AD on 21 February 2020, and is available to pre-order now.
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