“I Think We Might Look Back on 2023 as the Last Year When Humans Really Dominated the Music Scene”: Brian May Shares His Hopes and Fears About the Impact of AI

Brian May
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In the October 2023 issue of Guitar Player we catch up with Brian May as he releases his expanded Star Fleet Project box set featuring fellow guitar legend Eddie Van Halen.

In this essential interview, the Queen guitarist expounds on Eddie’s role in the 1983 EP and why he wanted Alex Van Halen's blessing before releasing this epic 40th anniversary tribute.

Elsewhere, Doctor May reveals his thoughts and feelings on the future of Queen and explains the dangers AI poses for music.

There’s a lot being made about AI right now, and its potential use in the music world. That’s a technology you’ve probably been involved with and even used in your scientific pursuits, no?

It is, and my major concern with it now is in the artistic area. I think by this time next year the landscape will be completely different. We won’t know which way is up. We won’t know what’s been created by AI and what’s been created by humans. Everything is going to get very blurred and very confusing, and I think we might look back on 2023 as the last year when humans really dominated the music scene. I really think it could be that serious, and that doesn’t fill me with joy. It makes me feel apprehensive, and I’m preparing to feel sad about this.

I think a lot of great stuff will come from AI, because it is going to increase the powers of humans to solve problems. But the potential for AI to cause evil is, obviously, incredibly huge – not just in music, ’cause nobody dies in music, but people can die if AI gets involved in politics and world domination for various nations. I think the whole thing is massively scary. It’s much more far-reaching than anybody realized – well, certainly than I realized.

Does it scare you off or fuel you to do more as a human creator?

I’m always doing bits and pieces. I do a lot of guesting on people’s tracks; I quite enjoy that. But it’s like the universe is a different place now, and there are echoes of us in that place. But where we actually stand as artists, I’m not sure. We still have something to say, but methods and media are so different now. It’s kind of a struggle for us to stay on top of that, I think.

We have young people around us, thank God. We ask them what to do. [laughs] The combination between different generations can produce a lot of powerful stuff. So we still have our methods, and our methods are acquired through years and years of experience, both in the studio and on the road.

There is value in the combination of the old and the new that gives you great power

Brian May

The funny thing is they’ve forgotten the old methods, so sometimes when I go to someone else’s studio I say, “What if you did this?” and I’ll suggest doing something everyone would have done 40 years ago. And they’ll go, “Oh, yeah. We never heard of that!”

So there is that value in the combination of the old and the new that gives you great power, and I value that. But I have to swim quite fast to keep it up. Even being able to turn my TV on! [laughs] Put it that way.

Read the rest of this fascinating interview in the October 2023 issue of Guitar Player, out now.

Guitar Player October 2023

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