So Rob, tell me what inspired you to create A.I.?
It was just a general love of sci-fi between the writers and myself. A.I. is treated as this mysterious unknown, and at this point with technological developments, it really has the potential to take over. With that in mind, we wanted to bring the human back into ‘A.I.’ The key elements for that truly were the emotive vocals and warm analogues synths. Analogue synths operate in a very different way to the way computer programs do. One of the synths specifically bought for this project actually changed the sound and characteristics, so that throughout the album, you’re not getting the same setup. They’re quite individual sounds that have been used and that’s the only part of the album they appear on. The writers really took the care and attention on that, which is something to not underplay.
How would you describe the album?
Within this concept, you’ve got nice textual shades, so it isn’t just all glistening. It’s quite dark sometimes; but it’s not threatening by any means of the imagination. It’s like a colour of a rainbow – filled with different mood structures, and that’s how it kind of works I feel. ‘A.I.’ starts off dreamy and positive with the first track. Slowly but surely though as the album progresses, it gets into darker and deeper surroundings. There was definitely a feeling that there was a journey throughout and that really helped shape the album.
Completely. There’s a cage in the background, where the raven is being freed. Then on the other side of this screen – which you don’t see unless you use the digital booklet – there are scratches on the wall. It symbolises entities trying to break out. There are subtle references all throughout. Visually, it’s so much harder doing albums like this. We’re making an assumption based on our own intuitive instincts.
I really didn’t want a safe album. Not conventional at all. If you look at sci-fi now, the best type of sci-fi actually doesn’t follow a formula. It’s the boundary that is being stripped that makes it exciting. If you go back perhaps 20 years, sci-fi was quite different. What would have been sci-fi music 20 years ago isn’t what sci-fi music is now. It’s only really from these defining shows that push the boundaries, that you think ‘Oh yeah, that’s acceptable’.
Do you feel that there is a nostalgic element to that particular sound and genre that people gravitate towards – especially since sci-fi had such a huge following in the 80s and continues to?
Absolutely! You have to take into account that the people that are making these shows were children of the 80s, so that’s where the nostalgia comes from. There’s also always this idea that somehow life was somehow better then. Maybe that nostalgia is almost like the history of the time, which colours your perception of it.
Especially with recent events…
There you go! Don’t forget looking back, there were very uncertain times in the 80s. The cold war was still going. But through those uncertainties, it was softening. People were really scared about what the next war would be. You look at the seismic changes actually, even in terms of culture with the likes of MTV, the way music was perceived, the way you could record media … The person on the street could record things for the first time in a way they couldn’t have before. It was now within reach and I think that’s why it’s seen as a bit of a glory period.
Immerse yourself into the world of ‘A.I.‘ and uncover the layers of the album through the digital booklet!