Premiere: Introducing Paul Feder Via His Kraftwerkian, Pseudo-AI Bop, ‘Paperclips’ [Video]

Brooklyn-based producer Paul Feder is one of those artists who can really blend in with any musical crowd, from electro to D&B. The pop phenomenon of electronic music really started with early krautrock and electro acts like Kraftwerk and Neu!, after all, so the prevalent vein of those early synth scientists in Feder’s work speaks to the primordial electro that exists in any genre. After his personal and emotional EP Nightwalk, which was a hybrid of modern EDM, classic electro and synth pop and a bit of dream pop, Feder’s newest work, the forthcoming Echoes EP, will focus on essentially the extreme opposite of personal and emotional: the quandary of AI.

There’s obviously been a lot of talk recently about artificial intelligence and its role in society going forward, specifically as it pertains to art and music. Some see it as a new and interesting tool to explore new levels of creativity, whilst others, Feder included, are giving it a dubious side eye. That said, Feder did put AI to the challenge whilst making Echoes. Each track on the EP uses AI in some form or another, and they also address the moral and emotional quagmire using AI in creative pursuits presents.

I have been anxious about the rise of the machines for some time, feeling like we are all slowly being replaced by creative AI. I decided to write some songs about my AI anxiety a year ago, and (collaborator friend) Jesse had idea of using AI to remix my songs about AI and it was a eureka moment. 

The ‘remix’ in the upcoming EP will be an ambient AI remix of ‘Nightwalk’, the title track from Feder’s previous EP, but the three original tracks will not only be made with AI but also inspired by the theories floating around about the controversial technology. ‘Human Love’, for example, will tell the story of a sentient AI being who longs to experience human emotions. The lead single, ‘Paperclips’, which drops tomorrow, 25 June, a few weeks in advance of the EP, is a little less emotional.

Aptly taking inspiration from the uber-robotic sounds of Feder’s muse Kraftwerk, ‘Paperclips’ is directly inspired by the eerily dystopian ‘Paperclip Problem’ theory. Brought forth by Oxford philosophy professor Nick Bostrom which supposes that AI entities could begin to derive some sense of fulfillment from a mundane task such as making paperclips, and it would thus become a singular drive for them, causing them to pursue resources and materials ad infinitum, thus creating a paperclip apocalypse. With the ‘Paperclips’ track and its corresponding video, Feder has written the story of this theory in gritty detail, just in case we needed more fever dreams in 2024. The video is especially poignant once you know the theory.

The short, house-driven track drives home this obsessive nature of this incipient paperclip apocalypse could take on, whilst the video sees a whole paperclip cult and culture growing up around it. It’s also an interesting commentary on the ways in which AI has already taken hold in culture. Art and artist merging to make something even greater than culture, or spelling the end of humanity? It may all come down to ‘Paperclips’.

Both pensive and danceable, ‘Paperclips’ is a good lead-in to Feder’s upcoming Echoes, which will be released mid-July. Both will be available on Paul Feder’s Spotify and Bandcamp pages on their respective release dates.