At Work with AUDIOLOGIE, a Virtual Artist Collective Driven by a Love of Music
One year ago, Aria and Memu were inspired by the direction AI Virtual Singers were headed. So, they set out to enter into the groundbreaking industry. Today, Aria and Memu are a two of the four founding members of a virtual-based hybrid management, video production, record label, and marketing company AUDIOLOGIE, abbreviated as "AO" — which has shepherded the debut of Virtual Artist ANRI. On December 11, ANRI's launch anniversary, they released the track "1NTROSPECTION" a tantalizingly sweet, yet crushingly confessional style song reflecting on love and loss like the track name suggests.
What makes AO stand out?
Memu: It’s a collective of smart minds and great ideas. We're songwriters, producers, record engineers, artists, designers, singers, programmers and more. We have a unique approach to marketing; ANRI is conceptualized as a young artist breaking into the independent music scene. This kind of resonates with us on a level since a lot of us are early in our musical careers and slowly growing our audience.
Aria: We really appreciate the idea of storytelling and making sure that potential fans fall in love with not only the music but everything that an artist has to offer. A lot goes into producing a virtual singer. Hundreds of recording takes, hundreds of hours working with the vocals and programming it. We're focused on the sound and getting it right to match the artist's image and discography. We’re really, really particular about how we go about introducing things that we care about.
When did the idea for ANRI surface and how long did it take you to launch her?
Aria: We decided to partner up with DT [Dreamtonics]— the first AI Singing Synthesis company that we mistook for human singers without reading the label. The concept for ANRI came from Memu's belief that there was just a lack of synthetic singer options that was a genre fit in the music catered to independent musicians and producers especially for English vocals. We knew that there was a community of people just like us. The whole concept of “ANRI” was built off the idea of bringing more variety to the industry. Of course, ANRI has undergone several technical upgrades since her original launch but her pronunciation and delivery remains smooth and effortless.
Memu: ANRI is inspired by so many artists, it's pretty crazy the amount of stylistic influences we pulled from. We wanted a solo act, an artist with a unique, dream-like voice like that of Jhene Aiko, who can pull off a great hook on your next hit. We got to work with Kurapichu, [voice provider] with several other commercial projects under her belt to bring this idea to life. We only started recording ANRI in June 2021 when Kurapichu's contractual obligations [with other companies] ended. ANRI officially launched in December, so our timeline took around half a year.
How has COVID affected your artists’ rollouts and plans?
Aria: At the beginning, everyone was thinking that it would be over in a few weeks but then we realized we might be here for a while. I think the most important realization was that we had to rethink our rollout. Ask ourselves the question, “Are we really that good at doing rollouts? Do it in the middle of a pandemic and see.” There were so many things that we planned that we had to restart from scratch, and so many changes in our staff roster as well. We didn't want to be a reactionary company; we're revolutionaries in new ways of thinking. Right now, we're developing two new projects, one of which should be released early next year.
Let’s talk about your new projects, changes and new programs.
Memu: Since I stepped in the executive producer role, we're going in heavy in the music production side because that's more of my specialty. I'm finalizing some fresh new tracks for our next phase. As you heard from Aria, we're parallel developing some projects right now. We're pretty much finished with the first one, and working through the rollout plan. I won't be sharing any more details but the new singer is a perfect complement to ANRI. Our rollout schedule was hurt by the pandemic but we have budgets for things that we have to get done, regardless of pandemic or not, and that made it very easy for us to allocate funds to up-and-coming projects. Aria's leading the development on both projects and we're also working with a junior developer for the wrap-up. We're planning some in-person events too and will be releasing more news on that via our official channels.
What were the biggest hurdles that you faced?
Memu: The pandemic and how it impacted mental health. The fact that we live in a volatile business and a volatile time. It’s no secret that we’ve lost too many people on the executive and creative side, due to them not being taken care of and possibly them not taking care of themselves. Our creative team is primarily Asian American artists who reside in the United States. In [our] community, the idea of mental health is so far removed from our everyday psyche, because we’ve been worried about other pressing things like staying alive. And, then there's down times. There are always ups and downs, but when you hit the down times early on, it’s just like, “Damn, where do I go from here?” You believe in yourself but, at that moment success just seems so far away. The hurdle is just locking it down and really believing in yourself, if you work really hard, if you’re determined, and you put everything into it, you will reach the end goal. That, sometimes is a difficult concept to go by.
Does everyone you work with agree to be a part of the whole AUDIOLOGIE ecosystem? Or are there staff members that are just there for management or just for producing, etc?
Aria: We work with a lot of freelancer artists and producers who are not necessarily part of AUDIOLOGIE and they come and go depending on which projects we're currently working on. The same creatives that produced for ANRI's debut, we try to continue to book in order to keep her sound cohesive but constantly evolving. But, for our newer projects, we branched out in terms of musical style and the core sound, so we're pursuing a different creative direction with some new things in store. There are some permanent staff members, but Memu is kind of a jack of all trades (from front end web design, recording engineer, project management, treasurer) and Esse is our social media Manager as well as a video director. I'm more technical side, programming and audio engineering, mixing and mastering etc. Our junior developer, dnf also does programming and audio engineering work and handles some of our music production. Remilia's our video editor and one half of the design team, 7Mora. Our design team is comprised of two collaborating artists on our staff list.
Memu: We've been around since the AO's inception and worked on pretty much everything related to ANRI's launch. I do a lot of stuff behind the scenes but it's simpler to say Executive Producer while I'm working on planning. Most of us have more than one skillset we can leverage to stay within our budget. Unfortunately, a lot of us are too busy with real life to keep up with social media, so right now it's just Aria and I with some form of presence online right now. Everyone is able to pick which services they want to be a part of, and I think finding success in that role is really just being very transparent in saying what we have and what our abilities are.
Do you have any messages for aspiring musicians and creatives?
Aria: Work hard and stay true to yourself and trying your best. I've been working on staying true to myself even when I felt discouraged at times - eventually good karma comes back around and it would all change. Don't limit yourself when it comes to music, in style, gender or even language... Being not afraid to experiment allowed me to continually to evolve my sound without ever feeling confined inside a box.
Memu: Don't chase views when it comes to music, but chase the energy you give and receive from things that inspire you. This creative energy will circulate and pass on to your fans. I don't believe in dropping mechanical or planned projects. To me, art is spiritual and spontaneous, all about chasing the muse. When I make music, there is always a sincere message, and I want to share it. On the other hand, there will always be criticism and judgement when it comes to music. Music is art and art is subjective. Remembering that will take you a long way.