LOS ANGELES – Accessibility might be an artist’s best asset. Listeners need to really feel near the musicians they admire and assist — and most would bounce on the likelihood to speak one-on-one. However celeb schedules not often enable for that form of intimacy. So what is the subsequent neatest thing?
For Mark Tuan, whose new EP “Fallin’” is out Friday, it was making a digital avatar.
The rapper-singer-model and former member of the Ok-pop boy band Got7 partnered with Soul Machines to create an autonomously automated “digital twin” called “Digital Mark.” In doing so, Tuan has become the first celebrity to attach their likeness to OpenAI’s GPT integration, artificial intelligence technology that allows fans to engage in one-on-one conversations with Tuan’s avatar.
“It’s very different. It’s not really me, but it is me,” he says of Digital Mark. “It’s a cool thing, that fans get to interact with him, too.”
Greg Cross, CEO of Soul Machines, views Digital Mark as the future of fan engagement.
“While Digital Mark is the first Digital Celebrity Twin of its kind, we’re only at the beginning of how autonomous animation will reshape how individuals across the globe interact with celebrities and brands,” he said in a statement.
Tuan’s hope with Digital Mark is that as the technology advances, so too will fans’ relationships with his AI character — and that they’ll get to communicate with him in languages beyond English.
Getting Digital Mark to mirror the real Mark Tuan was an extensive process, involving several days of filming in a motion capture bodysuit. Tuan spent a full day demonstrating emotive facial expressions for Digital Mark to learn from, and then considerable time in his studio so “they can get my voice recognition,” he says.
Proper now, Digital Mark “just stands there … but maybe in the future, they’re going to incorporate me walking around,” he says.
The know-how is in its early days — Tuan says Digital Mark has been spreading “false rumors” a couple of nonexistent tour — however he is enthusiastic about how the avatar will evolve. Followers have already been utilizing Digital Mark to “troll” Tuan, playfully bugging the AI Mark about issues like tour dates and new music — “which is the relationship the fans have with me,” he says with amusing.
As for considerations over how this sort of know-how may very well be used sooner or later, Tuan is cautiously optimistic.
“I’ve seen a lot of movies where robots take over the world,” he jokes. “You never really know what’s going to happen, but I think it is really cool.”
His openness to technological development mirrors his experimental spirit as a musician. “Fallin’” follows his 2022 debut solo album, “The Other Side.” The sound is totally different: He is detoured from R&B and hip-hop to pursue sunny pop-punk. That is instantly evidenced on the cheery retro-pop of “Your World” and the synth-y, riff-led love music “Everyone Else Fades.”
“I brought in a live band,” he says, specializing in creating songs he sensed could be “really fun to perform love,” with anthemic rock drums.
“’The Different Facet’ confirmed a extra, you already know, emotional Mark, unhappy Mark,” he says. And while fans enjoyed it, he sensed they wanted an uplifting, empowering collection of songs from him. If his album allowed them to see into his sense of interiority — a kind of catharsis removed from his group idol days — “Fallin’” is a creative exercise. It’s Tuan having fun in the studio and with his fans.
In that way, he hopes “Fallin” is something fans throw on in the morning to feel good about the day — and themselves.
“I want to create something that’s easier for them to listen to,” he says. “Daily music,” as he describes it.
And after they’re executed? They’ll speak to Digital Mark about it.