Excited and relieved now that our album is out. We worked on it for almost a year and now it’s finally been set free to interact with other people.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Alpha Go”? Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
“Alpha Go” is a tribute to the recent defeat of the world’s top Go player by a Google developed AI. The song assembles a match between two melodies, an airy and abstract one representing AI and a more intense and emotional one representing humans. The abstract melody, steady paced but taking sharp turns with nimble precision, is delivered by a computer manipulated female human voice. The emotional melody, jittery and reactive to the challenging chords of the AI voice, is channeled through a piano played with skillful yet frustrated hands.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Yes! Stay tuned.
The single comes off your new album R. U. R. – what’s the story behind the title?
The title comes from the 1920s Czech play Rossum’s Universal Robots where the word “robot” originated.
How was the recording and writing process?
This album is more electronic than our most recent releases. Engaging more with dissonance and uncertainty, we found ourselves gravitating towards detuned instruments, complex rhythms, and atonal melodic pairings. One of us would lay down the initial ideas (usually Yunfan) and then the other would add his or her thoughts. Then collectively we would build out the piece, which included activities such as recording vocals, creating percussion samples from household objects (e.g. scissors on a planter), and composing a three minute piano sequence.
What role does NYC play in your music?
NYC is a borderless place where seemingly people from all over the world are forced to interact and coexist. Our music often melds together different genres as well.
What aspect of sci-fi and our social climate did you get to reimagine and explore on this record?
R.U.R. imagines a future in which humans have been replaced by robots who are trying to understand what led to its predecessors’ extinction. Via a time capsule, the robots learn about humanity’s most noble endeavours (art, agriculture, science) and worst attributes (narcissism, materialism, environmental degradation) and wonder if the universe will ever see the likes of these peculiar beings again.
Any plans to hit the road?
Not at the moment as we’re hunkering down in the studio for a bit. For those who are curious, here’s a clip from our show on The Great Wall of China from earlier this year.
What else is happening next in Shanghai Restoration Project’s world?
We’re in the process of scoring the next film for Liu Jian, an award winning animation director from China. His most recent film Have a Nice Day, for which we contributed music, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and recently screened at the BFI London Film Festival.