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"AI has already changed the world as we know it and it’s revolutionizing the way we do a lot of things." - Eva Gardner

Posted: April 18, 2024
AI can duplicate, or replicate, but it will not be able to creative like the human mind and spirit. Individuality wins every time. Life experiences, and emotions are well defined in the lyrics written by many artists. AI is imperfect in many regards because it’s developed by imperfect and flawed humans.It is in our interest to cover AI Solutions through multiple articles and interviews. This would be conducive to the ideals of many who support AI in the music industry.
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Photo credit: Mogli Maureal

Artificial intelligence - is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. Specific applications of AI include expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition and machine vision.

Usage of AI in everyday life includes virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, personalized content recommendations on streaming platforms and fraud detection systems in banking. Machines today can learn from experience, adapt to new inputs, and even perform human-like tasks with help from artificial intelligence (AI). Artificial intelligence examples today, from chess-playing computers to self-driving cars, are heavily based on deep learning and natural language processing.

Experts regard artificial intelligence as a factor of production, which has the potential to introduce new sources of growth and change the way work is done across industries. For instance, the PWC predicts that AI could potentially contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2035. China and the United States are primed to benefit the most from the coming AI boom, accounting for nearly 70% of the global impact.

Strong AI, also known as general AI, refers to AI systems that possess human-level intelligence or even surpass human intelligence across a wide range of tasks. Strong AI would be capable of understanding, reasoning, learning, and applying knowledge to solve complex problems in a manner like human cognition. However, the development of strong AI is still largely theoretical and has not been achieved to date.

So why the need to worry if you work in the music industry? What is AI going to achieve that is being done by humans at this point?

With AI, however, the software can quickly analyze and synthesize vast amounts of data, creating new musical ideas and variations in a matter of seconds. This technology has the potential to streamline the creative process and allow artists to focus more on the quality of their work rather than the quantity.

AI has enabled some appealing videos and has complimented artists in various ways. However, there is no fear from AI taking over the creative process for both songwriters and artists. There is a human element that just can’t be replaced by technology. There is one component to everyone that prevents this from ever happening. That component is the “figurative heart”. I don’t recall AI solutions defined as a masterpiece.

AI can duplicate, or replicate, but it will not be able to creative like the human mind and spirit. Individuality wins every time. Life experiences, and emotions are well defined in the lyrics written by many artists. AI is imperfect in many regards because it’s developed by imperfect and flawed humans.It is in our interest to cover AI Solutions through multiple articles and interviews. This would be conducive to the ideals of many who support AI in the music industry.

However, I would like to take a step back, and talk to a guest regarding pros and cons of AI. Recently, there was a publication that was circulated. It mentioned that bass players would soon be obsolete. AI would replace bassists. REALLY?? For decades, technology has replaced certain elements that enable studio work easier and more efficient. I get it. However, the bass player WILL NOT BE REPLACED. Despite what accomplishments AI has achieved. I will pay money to watch and hear a live performance from a human that plays instruments on stage. There is way too many “nuts” and “bolts” that draw crowds into a stadium. AI will not do it. Unless you want to sit in front of your gaming console, then AI will be your best friend.

Our guest today is Eva Gardner. 1993: Legendary engineer/producer Andy Johns (Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton) brings a Pignose amplifier and bass guitar to the Hollywood Hills home of British rock bassist, Kim Gardner. Kim, who was in The Creation and The Birds with Ron Wood, is surprised when Johns hands the bass guitar to his 14-year-old daughter, Eva. Johns then goes to turn up the volume on The Kinks’ classic “You Really Got Me” and proclaims, “Now this is a solid bass line!” Eva never looked back.

Eva began performing with live bands in her hometown of Los Angeles at the age of 14. Deciding to further her musical studies, she attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Eva continued her studies at UCLA, graduating with honors (Cum Laude), and earning a degree in Ethnomusicology. Her professional career began when she toured and recorded as the original bassist in The Mars Volta in 2001/2002. Since then, Eva has performed and toured with numerous artists worldwide, including P!nk, Gwen Stefani, Cher, Tegan & Sara, Moby and Veruca Salt.

In 2014, Eva became the first female artist to have a signature bass with Fender.

INTERVIEW WITH EVA GARDNER AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

Guitar Thrills: It is a pleasure to chat with such an amazing bassist. It is our privilege to interview you today. Thank you.

Eva: Thanks so much for having me!

Guitar Thrills: You were the first bassist I thought about, as I developed this topic. First, what are your feelings about AI and the promise that it will change the world as we know it?

Eva: Well, I feel that AI has already changed the world as we know it and it’s revolutionizing the way we do a lot of things. Most of us use it or are at least exposed to it every day, as you mentioned. Unlocking our phones with Face ID, Google searches, navigation, recommendations on Spotify, Amazon or Netflix, etc.…the toothpaste has long been out of the tube and the future is here – Minority Report, The Terminator, RoboCop, Star Trek: The Next Generation – countless films and TV shows have reflected on what life would be like with this technology and now much of science fiction is no longer fiction. Now that that future is here, what do we do? Things are changing at such a rapid rate that sometimes it feels like we are getting blindsided - but it’s all about adapting to the inevitable as best as we can.

This topic reminds me of the bumper stickers I used to see all the time that said, “Drum machines have no soul.” Fears of musicians being replaced by machines is not new - drum machine technology was pioneered in the 1970s when Steely Dan had engineer Roger Nichols develop a system for drum sampling and sequencing. This machine was even named “Wendel” and received its own platinum record! Despite the fears that existed at the time, the drum machine did not completely replace the human drummer. We’ve learned to integrate the technology and use it as another tool. I’m hoping we’re able to do the same with AI.

Guitar Thrills: What aspects of AI have you found intriguing, and have you used AI to your advantage?

Eva: Lately I feel like I am in both awe and shock with some of the AI that I encounter. Every time I’m going through an airport it seems like some new technology has been implemented. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to pull out my passport when going through customs at LAX. I look at a screen and it sends me straight through. Same with boarding planes – many gates just use facial recognition to match you to your ticket – no boarding pass scan needed! A lot of these advancements can streamline travel as well as many other areas of our lives. I’ve explored ChatGPT and what I’ve seen so far is remarkable. Just yesterday I was watching videos about the Apple Vision Pro headset. Apple’s website calls it a “spatial computer that blends digital content and apps into your physical space, and lets you navigate using your eyes, hands, and voice.” I am intrigued by it all and it will be interesting to see where it goes.

Guitar Thrills: Are you concerned that AI would replace bass players?

Eva: There are already artists that don’t tour with a live band. I’ve seen plenty of live shows that have the bass part playing on a track. Session musicians are not in high demand as they once were and much of what we hear in music today is programmed. The issues jeopardizing a career in music are not new, yet we continue to march on. There is already technology that generates bass lines but I’m not sure there is a direct and imminent risk of AI replacing bass players specifically. Perhaps a lot of what will determine the future is whether people really care if the music they listen to is AI generated. In the live sector we have already seen holograms in concert. How far will that go? Hopefully people will continue to value the “humanness” of human musicians.

Guitar Thrills: Eventually, AI would replace everyone and the workforce that we know would dwindle away. What purpose do articles about being replaced by AI serve? In your opinion.

Eva: I think that exploring these ideas is a part of human nature – we speculate, ponder, and worry about the future. Our current anxieties about automation are not without warrant and it seems fair to contemplate them. We fear being replaced, of being obsolete and losing our sense of purpose. Looking to the past, these fears are not new. Growth in modern times goes hand in hand with technology and automation. We saw the same thing during the Industrial Revolution and many of those who were at the verge of being replaced by machines didn’t go down without a fight. New technologies, while often benefiting society at large, can come with casualties. But “progress” will continue despite resistance from the people it will replace – we saw this in places like the Luddite movement in 19th century England and with the New York lamplighters protests in 1907. Despite these efforts to stop technology, the light bulb prevailed, as did the modern textile industry. Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian novel Player Piano (published in 1952) was inspired by his time working at General Electric and portrays the negative effects that automation can have on society. It’s natural for us to fear the unknown. Look at what happened with Napster and file-sharing. Despite the push back from the music industry, there was no stopping what was to come with streaming and the industry drastically changed. People have different ideas about what “progress” is, and with progress often comes pain. Yet art is very specifically human, and I think we will continue to make art no matter where technology is at.

Guitar Thrills: Honestly, I love technology. I have a background in IT. However, I am not convinced that humans would prefer technology over the unique and authentic sounds from a bass player.

Have you discussed technology and how it affects your career as a musician?

Eva: A lot of the discussion now is about how to use technology as a tool. How do we keep from seeing it as an immediate existential threat? How do we continue to create and express our artistry despite the seeming ubiquity of AI? If you look at how artists made and consumed music even a couple of decades ago it’s different to how it’s done now. You could make an album on your iPhone if you really wanted to. You don’t have to buy physical records anymore and a lot of it is about accessibility and convenience. These technologies can have a double-edged sword though. Copyrighting is a big discussion and there are already numerous artists suing AI companies over intellectual property being used to train AI.

What we recently saw with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes shows how that industry has power to be able to install guardrails regarding using AI. Unfortunately, musicians don’t have the power to negotiate in the same way, as we’ve been historically unable to unionize, and the AFM has a limited reach. We are at a particular disadvantage regarding protections there. Maybe it will be up to what people believe creativity is – does it have to come directly from a human? Or is creativity how a human leverages AI as a tool? Despite all this, technology has certainly proven to be useful as well. I use much more technology now than I did when I first started my career. It has allowed be to expand my skillset and become a more versatile and accessible musician. My hope is that advancement in technologies will continue to be deemed helpful instead of hurtful despite the current fears surrounding it.

Guitar Thrills: To some extent, I drown out the noise. Streaming music has become the main method for listening to music. However, I still enjoy listening to music on vinyl. There just a nostalgic feeling of going old school for music. Something that AI will never achieve.

Guitar Thrills: Getting away from the AI topic, I would like to ask you about the bass guitar brand that you are using? What is the key difference between the one you use now, and ones you have played in the past?

 Eva: I primarily use Fender Precision basses – they’ve always been the standard in my household – it’s what my dad played so they were always around. I’ve loved playing other basses as well over the years for different feel, style, or effect – but the Fender Precision is always “home bass.”

Guitar Thrills: What is your style of playing the bass? It is a slapping motion, or can you strum it like a 6-string?

Eva: I play mostly in rock/pop genres. I usually play with my fingers unless a song specifically calls for a pick or some other technique.

Guitar Thrills: What is the best amp that pairs well with your bass, and why?

Eva: I mostly use Ampeg amps which are classic just like Fender Precision basses. I have a pretty old school aesthetic and love the sound and feel of tube amps with a good old passive 4 string basses. Fender Precisions were the very first electric basses made and

it’s always felt like “why reinvent the wheel?” Unless I need something very specific, Ampeg and Fender are my perfect match.

Guitar Thrills: Do you use pedals onstage?

Eva: Yes, I use pedals onstage and what I use completely depends on the music I am playing. Different artists call for different styles and sounds so my pedal board will be designed for the situation I’m in.

Guitar Thrills: What are you currently working on, that you would like your fans to know about?

Eva: I’m currently in the middle of P!nk’s Summer Carnival Tour, which started in Europe in June of 2023. We most recently finished playing 20 stadiums over 2 months in Australia and New Zealand which was just incredible. She continues to break records over there! We head back to Europe in June of 2024 and do North America in the fall. I’m also in the process of writing another solo record so I’m looking forward to getting that out there soon too!

Guitar Thrills: Was your first love singing or playing bass?

Eva: I always sang in school as a kid, but it wasn’t until I started playing bass that I discovered my passion – one that I was fully dedicated and devoted to!

Guitar Thrills: It has been an excellent opportunity to interview you. Great topic with one of the best bass players in the industry. Thank you for the chat today. I hope we can talk soon. Please keep us informed as to any special projects you will be working on.

Eva: Thanks so much – this has been an interesting and timely topic to explore!




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