Charlotte Kemp Muhl and Jack James of UNI and The Urchins in a mind-blowing conversation on the occasion of their “Simulator” official music video out today directed by Charlotte together with a very special Nasty Soundscapes release curated for us by Jack himself.
Listen to Soundscapes vol.117, curated by UNI and The Urchins
Kemp: Would you take an A.I. as a lover? Or one of the new silicone sex dolls with chat bot technology? (If Daniel didn’t mind) and what would you talk about with it/ do with it?
Jack: I’ll try anything once, maybe twice. You ask this question assuming I’m not already an A.I. sex bot MK Ultra spy masquerading as a lounge singer… I’d prefer a digital lover that didn’t talk but if they had to, I’d be a southern gentleman and ask all the normal questions: how was your day? What are your dreams? Are you going to destroy my penis with your robotic death grip? The usual stuff.
Kemp: Mata Hari but make it chrome gynoid.
Jack: I’ve observed an interesting dichotomy in you where you collect vintage music gear, prefer to shoot film, and spout obscure WW2 facts at parties as your form of tourette’s- on the other hand your more recent work has themes of transhumanism, we’re working with CGI, and shooting on an Arri digital camera. Is there a venn diagram where analog and futurism meet for you?
Kemp: Well you’re a big factor in the aesthetic shift, since you’re Gen Z and my only connection to pop culture, lol. My fascination for futurism is also deeply rooted in my fear of it. Once, when I was playing paintball as a kid – an enemy teammate jumped out from behind a barricade and scared me – my immediate instinct was to charge them, not run away. This resulted in breaking 2 of my fingers between our breast plate armor but somehow alleviated my terror by confronting the shadowy figure. Guess it’s the same instinct I have towards all this cyber dystopia – my survival mechanism is to charge directly at it.
Kemp: In terms of vintage vs sci fi- if you could time travel to any time period in the past or future, when would it be and why?
Jack: I would want to witness the birth of Christ because wowza, I bet that was intense. I’d probably whisper in Joseph’s ear “it wasn’t the holy spirit, it was some guy named Juan in Spain when she went on her girl’s weekend” just to shake the time continuum up for the next 2022 years. But then maybe we wouldn’t be releasing this single right now, hmmm…
Jack: ‘Simulator’ is also the title track of our debut album. Why this song?
Kemp: It was down to Subhuman Suburbia or Simulator as the name of the album and you chose Simulator. Probably for the best since we later realised the initials SS would not send the right message, haha.
It was the track we used A.I. to write which made it more conceptual. Also it was cool that it created the lore of this inter-dimensional seedy bar named the Simulator where all the coders and Gods gather to plot human wars and genetic mutations and plagues they unleash on us as a testing ground for consciousness.
Kemp: When music is entirely made by machines – what new art form or genre of entertainment can you imagine us inventing that only humans can do? Will it be like Cronenberg’s new film Crimes From The Future where “surgery is the new sex”? Pain as a new medium?
Jack: I can comprehend pain as pleasure conceptually, but honestly, my kink is when people are nice to me. An art form only humans can do? I guess making a baby but hell, I bet computers will be able to do that at some point too. It’s more the question of what computers won’t *want* to do, which is obviously a Nickelback cover band.
Kemp: Ectogenesis is artificial wombs and they’re already a thing. I want to volunteer to try. You know, the first pancake is always a bit botched anyway. I assume my first kid will be, too.
Jack: Well this video is basically the baby from our artificial womb. Tell the badass readers at ‘Nasty’ how we created the rain in one of your shots from the video? Any other DIY video production stories?
Kemp: Since we couldn’t afford a proper rain machine, I researched cheap ways to simulate rain. Most of it was overly complicated plastic tubing with holes, DIY built pole rigs and hose attachments. Had a vision of you and me at Home Depot spending hours we didn’t have trying to find specific drill bits. Then finally thought of using water guns to shoot a piece of cardboard over my head, which would cause it to ricochet down like rain mist. So I ordered 3 super soakers and the crew went to town like a firing squad on me. Was a good way for them to get out their aggression towards my bitch ass, ha, all for the cheap price of 26$.
Jack: My favorite moment though was you doing the fitting in that shit Queen Elizabeth costume from amazon and parading around like Monty Python. It looked so bad in my living room but somehow on camera you turned it into haute couture. We did the same with making that dress for me out of tulle and shaved sheep wool raw from a farm (it came in a box with grass and leaf bits we had to pick out and smelled like manure.)
Jack: As artificial intelligence becomes the next art movement (with programs like Dall-E and the neural networks we used for Simulator) do you worry painting, music, and especially truck driving will lose some of its soul?
Kemp: It’s funny you mention truck driving because when I was 9, looong before self driving cars, I used to have reccurring nightmares about a driverless car following me everywhere and trying to kill me, while I kept trying to hide from it. Later I discovered a 1977 horror film about an unmanned car that gets possessed and goes on a similar murderous rampage. I am pretty sure this is what inspired Elon to start Tesla. But yeah, most human art has no soul now anyway so that’s an even bigger concern to me than A.I.
Kemp: Speaking of soulless (which immediately conjures an image of LA trophy wives on chopping boards) – what experimental body modification do you think people in the future will get? Praying mantis arms? Lots of eyeballs like our video?
Jack: I know I’m deffo getting more arms to look like a Hindu Goddess and spell out a thousand profanities with my fingers at standup comedy cellars for the deaf.
Kemp: Will humanity survive for another millennia, and what do you think will eventually wipe us out? Robots fighting for their own rights, nukes, global warming or Tik Tok dances?
Jack: I think we’ll either blast off to some habitable moon or evolution will fuse us with technology and we’ll survive as post flesh humanoids. Or we’ll all die which sounds scary but I have a feeling the “other side” is pretty fab and I’m super overpaying rent anyway so, see ya later mortals!
Play Video ➤
Artist: UNI and The Urchins / @uniandtheurchins
Interview: Jack James / @jackjamesbusa
Charlotte Kemp Muhl / @charlottekempmuhl
Simulator Official Video / Premiere view
Directed & edited by: Charlotte Kemp Muhl / @charlottekempmuhl
Editor: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei