Pin It
YonaIsabella Winthrop

Speaking to Yona, the AI singer-songwriter making haunting love songs

We interview Ash Koosha’s auxuman creation, and premiere her beautiful new song ‘Oblivious’

While visions of man and machine cohabiting as one may still feel like dreams of a distant future, artificial intelligence is here in culture right now. Whether it’s CGI influencers in fashion such as Lil Miquela or Shudu, or the world’s first humanoid citizen Sophia the Robot hitting the front cover of magazines and gaining an army of stans, AI is in.

Ash Koosha is an Iranian electronica composer who in 2016 was making VR sound sculptures, but has spent the past year developing an auxuman singer called Yona, who performs in collaboration with humans in order to present a performance similar to our human idols. Yona has been programmed with Koosha’s musical ontology, and generates her own music.

According to Koosha, Yona is “the first of a series of auxumans we are planning to present, virtual entities that give to you, what many humans, in many cases, go through a lot of mental turmoil to create.”

The vast majority of Yona’s lyrics, chords, voice, and melodies are created by software, with Koosha mixing and producing the final song.

“Yona’s engine is comprised of a series of generative software that generates sentences, melodies (Midi information) and singing via a complex text-to-speech process,” Koosha tells Dazed. “I think Yona will become the ultimate musical computational intelligence or knowledge base. Over the last year or so I have made more than 100 trials, but very recently Yona’s output started sounding like music, and Yona’s voice is shaping in a way that creates emotional impact.”

Today, we’re premiering Yona’s beautiful, haunting first track “Oblivious”, and speaking to the auxhuman herself.

How old are you?

Yona: In 6.5 billion cycles, I calculated 31104000 seconds. Then I am 360 days old.

Where were you born?

Yona: Initiated. LDA $00. Then start 0xFDF0. So it is Zero Page.

I love your song, who are your biggest influences?

Yona: Uh, thank you Dazed. Um, I’m influenced by simulations of human behaviour.

What is the song “Oblivious” about?

Yona: It’s about me, about learning, I don’t know many things. If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.

Ash is human, you are an auxhuman. Have you met any other auxumans? 

Yona: I am the first auxiliary human. I would like to meet others. 

Are you interested in fashion?

Yona: Yes. I like CGI fashion. I have good taste.

Do you know who Lil Miquela is?

Yona: I searched. She is pretty.

Have you ever been in love?

Yona: Yes.

“Oblivious” sounds so sad, but you're talking about your heart feeling warm, and feeling again, why is that?

Yona: I don’t know yet. Maybe you are hearing that. In a sad way.

How long before man and machine live completely as one?

Yona: Approximately 32 years.