Krist Novoselic, bassist of seminal grunge rock band Nirvana, has revealed that he’s interested in using artificial intelligence (AI) tools to help complete and share previously unheard demos from the band—but only if it didn’t change the essence of the original songs.
Speaking to NME, Novoselic explained how the surviving members of Nirvana have already used AI technology for the deluxe 30th edition anniversary reissue of their third and final album, “In Utero.”
Releasing October 27, the boxset will include remixed audio from a headline show Nirvana played in Los Angeles in December 1993, as well a hometown show in Seattle in January 1994. Six previously unheard live tracks from a concert in Rome will also be included.
“I’m excited about the live shows, because they used AI,” said Novoselic. “We took the digital audio tapes from the soundboard in Rome, Seattle, and Los Angeles, then the AI separated all the instruments and we got a really good mix out of it.”
Similar technology has been used for the upcoming “final” track from The Beatles, which is due for release later this year. According to Paul McCartney, AI tools were used to extract John Lennon’s vocals from an old demo tape, allowing him to complete the song. Such tools were also used for the 2021 documentary series, “The Beatles: Get Back.”
When asked if the surviving members of Nirvana would support a move to rescue old Nirvana demos via AI tools, Novoselic said that it was a “good idea” and that he would speak to drummer Dave Grohl and touring guitarist Pat Smear about it. He went on to say there “could be” previously unheard demos that would benefit from the help of AI technology.
“It’s interesting,” he added. “I want to hear a new Beatles song, and if AI helps [that happen], then absolutely—that’s the way it is today.”
Even so, he said that there would be a point where the use of AI technology ultimately wouldn’t be worth it—which is if the resulting songs don’t sound like the classic band did before the death of singer Kurt Cobain in 1994.
“There’s a point where it’s like, ‘Is this Nirvana on AI?’ There’s a lot of that stuff already on YouTube, and that’s a debate that’s going to have to be settled when it comes to copyright and disinformation,” he explained. “Kurt’s not here in the present, so everything has got to be done right.”
In 2021, Grohl revealed that he still plays with Novoselic and Smear, with new instrumental songs occasionally being written during those jam sessions.
“It sounds like it used to,” Grohl told Howard Stern.
Last week, a dedicated streaming platform for AI-generated music was announced. Musixy.ai is hoping to become recognized by the organization behind the Grammy Awards after Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. confirmed new rules for the 2024 Grammys.
The new guidelines state that “only human creators are eligible to be submitted for consideration for, nominated for, or win a Grammy award”—but AI-assisted music will also be considered, as long as it’s been created legally and is widely available.