Paul McCartney says there will be a new Beatles record – created with help from artificial intelligence. McCartney, one of the two living Beatles, said AI was used to extricate the late John Lennon’s vocals from a previously recorded track.
During an interview with BBC Radio, McCartney, 80, was asked about how AI has been used to replicate his young voice and even “bring voices back from the grave,” by mimicking the late John Lennon and George Harrison.
“It’s a very interesting thing,” McCartney said. “It’s something we’re all sort of tackling at the moment in terms of trying to deal with what’s it mean.” He admitted he’s not on the internet much but he has heard of AI-produced tracks that use the former band members’ voices.
“All of that is kind of scary, but it’s the future” he said, adding it has great uses. AI is technology that mimics human intelligence. Machines learn how to perform tasks – like create music, write reports and generate art. Common AI platforms like ChatGPT answers questions and completes tasks with incredible accuracy. But AI is not without its critics, who point to a variety of ethical issues linked to the controversial technology.
The influential band had dozens of hits before they officially broke up in 1970, more than 50 years ago. Lennon, then 40, died in 1980 after being shot outside his apartment building in New York City; Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001 at age 58.
McCartney said in the 2021 documentary “The Beatles: Get Back,” which is about the making of the band’s 1970 album “Let It Be,” a sound engineer used AI to extract vocals from background music. “We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine, ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar,'” McCartney said.
“When we came to make what will be the last Beatles record, it was a demo that John [Lennon] had that we worked on. And we’ve just finished it up, it’ll be released this year, ” he said. “We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI so that we could mix the record as you would normally do.”
“So there’s a good side to it and then a scary side and we’ll just have to see where that leads,” McCartney said.
It’s also not the first time the band has released work after breaking up, including posthumous tracks “Free As A Bird,” released in 1995, and “Real Love,” released in 1996, as part of its in-depth anthology retrospective. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, delivered a demo tape Lennon had labeled “For Paul” with the songs to McCartney in 1995 and they were re-produced by Jeff Lynne, according to BBC News.
It is possible that the new song McCartney teased will be “Now And Then,” a song Lennon recorded in 1978, BBC News reported. The Beatles had previously considered releasing “Now And Then” as a “reunion song” with their 1995 anthology series, according to BBC News.