“Taylor Swift is on my song. Even if she doesn’t know it” Interview with Posse Unit
AI is taking over music, making more and more artists experiment with the technology and push the boundaries of their creativity. Ben Hill, a UK-based musician, is one of them.
Kill the DJ has recently reported about this songwriter from the UK who isolated Taylor Swift’s vocals, put them on his song, and the song climbed the UK iTunes charts soon after.
Not for long, though. The song has been removed from all the platforms by now, but, as Ben says, “The song is now available absolutely nowhere in the world. It doesn’t matter. It’s too late.”
Kill the DJ has spoken to Ben about this “fake Taylor” story, asked him what he thinks about artificial intelligence+music synergy, why he feels like he’s “the fox that got snared,” and more.
It’d be amazing to have Taylor Swift sing on one of my songs. I like a challenge.
Surrounded by music since he was five, a full-time songwriter and producer from Wiltshire, UK, Ben Hill started writing songs at the age of ten. Despite calling himself a “global phenomenon,” Ben admits that none of his earlier tracks gained that much traction across the UK as his new song “Get Your Head On This,” with Taylor Swift singing on that.
Singing with the help of AI, of course. Posse Unit used a tool called LALAL.AI to isolate Miss Swift’s vocals and put them in his song, which gained thousands of streams, 21,000 views on YouTube, and placed itself on a 28th position on the UK iTunes chart. Inspired by The Beatles’ new “Now and Then” song, Ben decided to take a risk. And though some might think he’s picked the wrong person for this endeavor, Ben is sure that Taylor Swift was the best candidate to sing on his song.
“Dickie Chappell, one of the guys I hang around with and am a very good friend with, who’s also Peter Gabriel’s co-producer, told me in the summer that I needed to check out what Taylor Swift was doing concert-wise. So I’ve got to check this out, and I was thinking, ‘God, not only is it a great show, but also as a songwriter, it’d be amazing to have Taylor Swift sing on one of my songs.’ I like a challenge.
“And then, at the end of June, Paul McCartney came out and said, ‘We’ve got a new Beatles song, and John’s on it. Well, we’ve used AI, but it’s still John’s voice. We just took it off the old tape and separated the piano and his voice,’ and I was thinking, ‘Well, I could just do that with a Taylor Swift song.’ And I used about four, I think: “Renegade,” “Snow On The Beach,” “Tolerate It” — it was back in the summer. I did this, and using this wonderful technology, LALAL.AI. I separated her voice, put it in Pro Tools, and basically, through the wonders of technology, got it in time and in tune to the melody that I wanted her to sing.”
She doesn’t know she’s on it, but she’s on my single. And you never say that Taylor Swift is on your single until it’s charted. You wait.
Music industry spends billions on getting AI off their platforms.
The song was climbing charts not for long, though, as now, at the end of November, the track is taken down from YouTube, Apple, Amazon, and iTunes. It was there for nearly a month, but Ben doesn’t lose heart: “Universal Music have removed it, but it’s too late. There’s a saying in England, ‘They’ve closed the door on the stable after the horse has run off.’ It’s probably shorter to say they shut the door after the horse bolted, but that’s true. So I don’t worry about it not being there anymore, I did it. It’s a bit like them closing off Everest after you’ve got to the top.”
So, the only way I got around it was by not saying Taylor Swift is on the song.
In our interview, Ben told me he could send the tapes with the song, so if anyone fancies it, you can ask Ben on his X (formerly Twitter) or Instagramto send you one. “They’re £10 each plus VAT,” Ben notes.
“The reason you won’t upload those songs is because people such as Universal Music and the whole music industry spend billions on basically getting AI off their platforms,” Ben says in a telephone interview to Kill the DJ. “So, the only way I got around it was by not saying Taylor Swift is on the song. Otherwise, I would never have got as far as I did.”
This isn’t surprising since a case akin to this happened to the TikTok creator who made an AI Drake and The Weekend song “Heart on My Sleeve,” using the musicians’ voices without their permission. After the song hit millions of streams on TikTok, Spotify, and YouTube, it was immediately taken down from all the platforms.
“I only tried once [to re-upload it] on YouTube. And the guy at We Are RGM [distribution company] said, ‘You’re insane. If you want to try uploading this, it’s not going to be up there for five minutes.’ So whoever the guy that did Drake is a genius and also a genius for getting around it. I don’t know how he did that. If he could phone in and tell me, I would love to know.”
It seems like Universal Music, which is a label for Taylor Swift, isn’t going to take any legal actions against Posse Unit. All they did was remove the song like it’s never been there. But, as Ben told Metro UK, he’s £250 into his overdraft anyway, so there was a little chance Taylor might have actually sued anything.
“We had an email from Universal Music, and it said this [song] was now off Spotify. It’s off iTunes. It’s never going to be released again due to copyright infringement. So it’s it’s gone, it’s gone, it’s gone. But it’s done its job, it’s got me out there, you know,” Ben shares.