“It might have been easier if I used AI, but I didn’t”: How Giles Martin created the backing vocals for The Beatles’ Now and Then
“Paul was nervous about this, actually,” says the producer.
Image: Dan MacMedan / Fotos International / Getty Images
Giles Martin has opened up about the production process behind one of the most highly anticipated songs of the year, Now and Then, by the Beatles.
Released on Thursday (2 November), the song — touted as the fab four’s “last” – features sonic contributions from all four Beatles: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
Before the song’s release, talks about the alleged involvement of AI in the track’s making had caused a stir among fans. In a new interview with Variety, Martin clarifies that AI software was only used to extract and clean up Lennon’s vocals on the demo track, with the bulk of the song being recorded or spliced together from the Beatles catalogue.
Of the song’s backing vocals in particular, Martin says: “No, it’s not artificial or intelligent. No, it’s the same process that I used, as you say so rightly, in Love.”
“And Paul was nervous about this, actually… My thought was this: that I really thought this needs to sound like the Beatles. And I have Paul, and he’s definitely the producer of this track, and I’m producing it with him.”
He adds, “The band would have probably sang “ahhhhs” in those things, but they’re not around anymore. So I’m not using AI to recreate their voices in any way. I’m literally taking the multitrack tapes of Eleanor Rigby, some stuff from Because and Here, There, and Everywhere, just in the same way the Beatles are splicing that in.”
“So, no AI, no. It might have been easier if I used AI, but I didn’t,” Martin continues. “And it’s funny, because it gives a different quality. I was listening to the song today, and the backing vocals have a sort of tape feel to them, like they’re on tape.”
“They feel like they’re from the Beatles, and they are from the Beatles. I think if they were from some machine learning program, they wouldn’t sound right.”
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