Holly Herndon is an artist and composer at the intersection of AI and music. Renowned for creating computer-based music using the visual programming language Max/MSP to create bespoke instruments and vocal processes, Holly is at the forefront of innovation. Collaborating with notable artists, writers and emerging technology experts, she often explores AI, Blockchain and Web 3.0 to pioneer music. Recently launching Holly+, the first of its kind protocol that allows anyone to upload polyphonic audio in exchange for a download of that music sung back by Holly’s voice, Holly is addressing the surging use of deep fakes in the music industry by voluntarily giving people access to her voice using ground-breaking technology.
After experiencing Berlin’s dance and techno scene as an exchange student, Holly enrolled at Mills College, California, earning an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media. Showcasing great talent, her vocal-generated piece 195 won her the Elizabeth Mills Crothers Award for Best Composer. Fuelled by her success, she developed a speciality in laptop performance, releasing her debut album, Released Movement, in 2012. During the same year, she became a PhD student at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. After graduating, she embarked on an international music career.
Often covering technology and topical events in her music, Holly released Chours in 2014, focusing on the personal nature of modern computing. Her single, Home, built on Chorus’s theme of surveillance, and her second full album, Platform, sought to induce an Autonomous sensory meridian response in the track Lonely at the Top and covered the theme of internet decentralisation. In her third album, Proto, Holly collaborated with programmer Jules LaPlace to feature a singing AI called Spawn, best described as a neural network trained to recognise and replicate human voices. Her next major project was Holly+, an innovative way of using deep fake technology to create music through communal voice ownership, combatting the negative aspects often associated with such technology.
Receiving acclaim for revolutionising the music industry with her pioneering use of AI to create music and tackle deepfakes, Holly+ premiered at Sonar Festival in Barcelona and presented at TED2022: A New Era. It also won the 2022 Ars Electronica STARTS prize for digital art and was used to perform a cover version of Dolly Parton’s Jolene in Holly’s voice. Building further on her authority in AI and music, Holly launched Spawning in 2022 to protect artists from AI art generators by giving them the option to opt in or out of datasets used to train AI and create compositions. Delving into integrating art and technology, Holly is co-host of the Interdependence podcast and a captivating speaker on AI and music.