Holly Herndon has released a new cover of Dolly Parton’s classic ballad “Jolene,” recorded with artificial intelligence. The AI cover was created with Herndon’s deepfake “twin” Holly+, which allows other people to sing in the electronic composer’s voice. In this instance, a modified score of “Jolene,” comprised of new harmonies, was fed to Holly+ and then generated in Herndon’s voice. Accompanying the voice is Ryan Norris on guitar.
The track arrives with a new music video directed by the digital artist Sam Rolfes. For the visual, Rolfes used motion-capture technology to animate a 3D model of Herndon, which swivels around in a desk chair before standing up to sing. The entire performance takes place in a glitchy pastoral world filled with old trucks and farm houses.
“I have a suggestion for you that comes from your own world. It is that I am only a symptom. I am not the disease. By treating me as you would like to, you will not remove the root causes of your anger, which I suspect are insecurity and borrowed shame.”
I should have known, therefore, that it was a Wednesday unlike any other—that the world was about to change—when, at the end of the day, I poked into the studio to turn off the lights, and found the synthesizer still wired up.