Photo credit: Boris Camaca
Holly Herndon operates at the edges of electronic and avant-garde pop and emerges with a dynamic and disruptive canon of her own. On her most recent full-length album PROTO, Herndon fronts and conducts an electronic pop choir comprised of both human and A.I. voices over a musical palette that encompasses everything from synths to Sacred Harp stylings. CNN noted that Herndon is “shaping the future of A.I.,” and she has demonstrated this nexus of technological evolution and musical catharsis with elevated performances at The Barbican (London), Volksbühne (Berlin), Sónar (Barcelona), Unsound (Krakow), and Club 2 Club (Milan). The sounds synthesized on PROTO by Herndon, her A.I. “baby” Spawn, and the vocal ensemble combine elements from Herndon’s dynamic and idiosyncratic personal journey: the timeless folk traditions of her childhood experiences in church-going East Tennessee (particularly the prismatic layered practice of Sacred Harp singing), the avant-garde music she explored while at Mills College, and the radical club culture of Berlin, all enhanced by her recent PhD composition studies at Stanford University, researching machine learning and music.