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Talkback: Taigen Kawabe


Japanese artist and producer Taigen Kawabe is best known as the frontman and bass guitarist of boundary‑destroying psych‑rock band Bo Ningen, whose repertoire ranges from experimental soundscapes with hushed spoken word in English, to guitar‑driven chaos and screaming in Japanese. Kawabe has numerous other strings to his bow, not least his solo project Ill Japonia — a rap project which flirts with lo‑fi hip‑hop and trap music — and Mainliner, his project with Makoto Kawabata of vaunted psych band Acid Mothers Temple.

At the moment I can’t stop listening to

So, it’s actually AI‑generated music. There’s a site called Suno.AI, which I started subscribing to last month. But I think you can still generate maybe five or six songs per day for free. How it works is that you type the lyrics — I mean, it can generate the lyrics as well, but me and my producer friend Foodman prefer to put in our own lyrics. Then you choose the genre, but you can mix any genres, or you can make up the genre as well! Foodman has made great AI music: for example, for the style he just put, like, “vinyl jazz”. And it came out with some sort of weird, retro ’70s Japanese music, or something.

It can be really catchy, and sometimes really unpredictable as well. You can ask it to make a structure, but I prefer to just let it do it! So it’ll be more surprising. There can be weird lyrical timings. Sometimes, if I type in Japanese it’ll translate it into some unknown language. It makes great errors. I mean, maybe after a couple of years they’ll stop making errors.

It’s interesting, from a musician’s point of view. Creators are a little bit scared, wondering if our work is going to be taken over by AI In the way that’s happened to the illustration world. But for us, we know the struggle of making music. How hard it is to get that bit of yourself into the sound of what you’re making. AI‑generated music is almost like summoning the dead! Like summoning a devil — or an angel…

Taigen Kawabe: AI‑generated music is almost like summoning the dead! Like summoning a devil — or an angel…

The project I’m most proud...

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