LOS ANGELES (AP) — Accessibility can be an artist’s greatest asset. Listeners want to feel close to the musicians they admire and support — and most would jump at the chance to communicate one-on-one. But celebrity schedules rarely allow for that kind of intimacy. So what’s the next best thing?
Mark Tuan, whose latest EP “Fallin'” will be released on Friday, experimented with making a virtual representation of himself.
The musician and model, who was previously part of the K-pop group Got7, collaborated with Soul Machines to develop a self-operating “digital twin” named “Digital Mark.” This makes Tuan the first celebrity to connect their appearance to OpenAI’s GPT integration, which is a form of AI technology that enables fans to interact with Tuan’s virtual counterpart in personal conversations.
“It’s quite distinct. It’s not entirely me, but it does represent me,” he explains about Digital Mark. “It’s a neat concept that allows fans to engage with him as well.”
Soul Machines CEO Greg Cross sees Digital Mark as the future of engaging with fans.
“In a statement, he expressed that although Digital Mark is the initial Digital Celebrity Twin, we are just scratching the surface of how self-governing animation will revolutionize the way people from all over the world engage with celebrities and brands.”
Tuan’s expectation for Digital Mark is that as technology progresses, fans’ connections with his AI character will also improve – and that they will have the opportunity to interact with him in languages other than English.
Recreating the real Mark Tuan as a Digital Mark was a thorough process that required several days of filming while wearing a motion capture bodysuit. Tuan dedicated a whole day to showcasing his expressive facial movements for Digital Mark to emulate, and also spent a significant amount of time in the studio so that “they could capture my voice accurately,” he explains.
At present, Digital Mark is stationary, but he may potentially be programmed to move around in the future, according to his creator.
The avatar is still in its initial stages, according to Tuan. He claims that Digital Mark has been spreading untrue information about a non-existent tour, but he is optimistic about how the avatar will develop. Fans have been playfully teasing the AI Mark with questions about tour dates and new music, which Tuan finds amusing and believes reflects their relationship with him.
Regarding worries about the potential uses of this technology down the line, Tuan remains cautiously hopeful.
The person jokingly mentions that they have watched many movies depicting robots dominating the world. Even though it’s unpredictable, they find the concept fascinating.
His openness to technological advancement mirrors his experimental spirit as a musician. “Fallin’” follows his 2022 debut solo album, “The Other Side.” The sound is different: He’s detoured from R&B and hip-hop to pursue sunny pop-punk. That’s immediately evidenced on the cheery retro-pop of “Your World” and the synth-y, riff-led love song “Everyone Else Fades.”
“I introduced a live band,” he states, emphasizing on composing tunes that he believed would be “extremely entertaining to play live,” accompanied by powerful rock drums.
In an interview, Tuan explains that his song “The Other Side” revealed a more emotional and melancholic side of him. Even though his fans appreciated it, he could sense their desire for a more uplifting and empowering album from him. While his album offers a glimpse into his personal thoughts and feelings, “Fallin'” is a playful and creative venture for Tuan as he enjoys making music with his fans in the studio.
He aspires for “Fallin” to be a song that fans listen to in the morning to start their day on a positive note and boost their self-esteem.
He expresses his desire to make something that is more user-friendly for their listening experience. He refers to it as “daily music.”
Once they have completed their task, they can discuss it with Digital Mark.