“Joining in solidarity if there was action on that? Absolutely”: Hozier on the threat of AI in music

The vocalist and guitarist, whose album lands today, has shared concern about its ability to create art without human labour.

Hozier playing a black sparkle Gretsch guitar on stage. He's smiling and stands on stage amongst purple lighting

Image: Robin Little / Getty

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Indie musician Hozier has said he would join strike action in solidarity with musicians who fear for its use in the music industry.

Artificial Intelligence technology is being used to reproduce the vocal styles, lyrics and even the sonic footprint of some of the biggest artists out there, and many are concerned how its growing use could threaten the rights of musicians.

Speaking to host Victoria Derbyshire on Newsnight yesterday evening (17 August), Hozier gave his view: “Whether [AI is] art or not, I think, is nearly a philosophical debate. It can’t create something based on a human experience. So I don’t know if it meets the definition of art,” he says.

The Take Me To Church wailer went on to compare the concerns of the music industry to those who are actors and writers, “Actors at the moment… there’s huge strikes on at the moment. Yeah, a huge part of that is that [AI] can be used to create a product without human labour.”

Asked if he could ever imagine going on strike over the use and boundaries of AI in music, Hozier states: “Can I imagine? Yeah. Joining in solidarity if there was action on that? Absolutely.”

Artists and industry figures alike appear to be consistently divided on the use of AI. The tech can not only create designs for guitars, or even video-game inspired pedals, but also Paul McCartney has suggested that it’s been used to create a “final Beatles record”.

Back in June, Nile Rogers shared his thoughts about the rising use of the tech. The Chic guitarist compared the fear around AI to the fear people felt around drum machines when they first came to be.

“I hear people talking about fake stuff,” he said. “That sounds like noise to me. That sounds like the noise we’ve been hearing all our lives. The drum machine and sequencer have been wonderful tools. There are bands that could never have had a record if it wasn’t for a sequencer.”

Hozier’s brand new album Unreal Earth lands today (18 August). View his website for the full list of tour dates.

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