The Beatles will release one final record with the help of artificial intelligence that helped isolate and enhance John Lennon’s voice from an old demo, Sir Paul McCartney said in a recent interview with the BBC.
The last Beatles song is speculated to be a 1978 track called ‘Now and Then’ which Lennon recorded onto a cassette tape from his apartment before he died.
McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison got together in 1995 to properly record ‘Now and Then’ before ultimately abandoning their efforts because of the poor audio quality in Lennon’s original tape.
In his interview this week, McCartney said producers “were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI so that then we could mix the record as you would normally do”.
It’s a technique McCartney said he was introduced to during the making of Peter Jackson’s Get Back, a lengthy documentary series chronicling the creation of the Beatles’ 1970 album Let it Be.
Jackson not only remastered old footage and audio, stitching together a high fidelity and intimate look into the Fab Four’s creative process, he also used software to uncover hidden conversations between the Beatles.
According to an interview with Jackson from late 2021, the bandmates – conscious they were being recorded – would often turn up their amps and strum along to obfuscate what they were saying.
Noticing this, Jackson used AI techniques to “strip the guitars off” and reveal the private conversations.
“He was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette, where it had John’s voice and a piano. He could separate them with AI,” McCartney said of Peter Jackson’s efforts during the making of Get Back.
“They’d tell the machine ‘that’s a voice, this is a guitar – lose the guitar’ and he did that. So it has great uses.”
“I’m not on the internet that much, but people will say to me ‘there’s a track where John’s singing one of [your] songs’ and it isn’t – it’s just AI, you know,” he said.
“So, all of that is kind of scary but exciting because it’s the future.”
Major record label Universal Music Group has reportedly been sending notices to streaming platforms asking them to take down AI-generated music featuring their artists.