LAUZZA and bb. on the trippy AI world of ‘Vacant’ ft. Sainte [@lauzzajb] [@sainteYS]

It’s 2023 and long gone are the days where Artificial Intelligence , more commonly known as AI, is something we only associate with futuristic sci-fi fantasies. The technology has slowly but surely been creeping its way into the realm of creativity – wether it’s through music, photography or film. As with all new advances, it comes with its think pieces, objections but also it’s embraces and two artists who have chosen to take it in it’s stride are London director LAUZZA and producer bb.

Using unparalleled AI techniques and software to craft a trippy ‘Instagram dump’ inspired moving art piece – the Vacant music video perfectly encapsulates the futuristic and boundless soundscapes it encompasses. We sat down with producer bb. and director LAUZZA to find out more about their process, the importance of embracing new technology and the nuanced stories behind the literal one of a kind music video.

Shenell: bb you’re a producer and LAUZZA you’re a director – do you think there’s any overlap in the things you do or ever find yourselves finding similarities / inspiration in each other’s process? 

LAUZZA: Definitely. During the ideas and pre production phase we move very symbiotically in terms of gathering references, making pinterest boards etc – Brad (bb) has an eye for that. I really respect how much he pushed me and Vic (The AI Artist) to get a look that’s now much better than the first few drafts. At the start of the process I probably suffered from a bit of complacency but he managed to keep me on my toes and get the best product out of it possible.

bb: I feel like LAUZZA is the guy in this space that you’re in when you’re from London and you release music that’s a bit different. To be able to do a video with him this early in is sick and it was a no brainer for me to be honest.

Shenell: In the beginning what was the video looking like?

LAUZZA: It had a much more cartoony clip arty feel. We were using a lot of different methods and source imagery till we ended up going with what we did. What became the video now comes from loads of IPhone photos Brad sent over from his travels, trips and tours and it basically allowed the video to feel like one big Instagram dump. Before, it was a case of crafting cartoon backgrounds, textures and different AI prompts. There’s so many steps to it that alter the final outcome, it’s not just plug and play, there’s such an artform to the AI.

Shenell: What is your standpoint on how AI is impacting music and video both in general and for you personally and has this project changed that in any way?

bb: AI in music is really weird because it’s able to now recreate people’s voices – like that Drake and The Weeknd song which went crazy. I feel like it’s definitely helpful at creating the initial starter ideas and it can help you do the time consuming stuff that used to be more hands-on. Nowadays, more than anything you want to be doing your own thing – leaning into what you like, so you shouldn’t really be leaning too much into a machine but I feel like this project definitely opened my eyes for visuals. I think it’s a completely different thing altogether. It’s less about a person and more about creating a piece of art, whereas music is usually tied to an actual person. Seeing what LAUZZA was able to do with this video was amazing. When we saw the treatment none of us really knew what he meant but it was crazy. He was like no ones ever done it before, and I’ve never done it before which sounds pretty risky but we did it anyway and now we’ve got this!

LAUZZA: I’m in a very privileged position where I work in a very experimental environment, so for me it’s really easy to use AI as a tool rather than being scared of it – if anything it just helps. Not only the ways you can save time, but it also expands your creativity. A lot of people are scared that AI is taking jobs but it’s also creating jobs – like the role of the AI artist. I think where there’s cons there’s pros.

bb: Yeah – you have to embrace technology at the end of the day.

LAUZZA: Otherwise you’ll fall behind.

Shenell: In a world where technology is advancing so quickly in both music and video – as artists how do you make sure to stay authentic and true to yourself whilst also pushing boundaries and innovating?

bb: I think that’s something I struggle with all the time. One of the hardest things is being true to yourself when you’re in this industry because you’re constantly looking at everybody else, what else is going on and you’re influenced by everything. It’s difficult when theres so much noise around to sometimes really dig deep and think about what you actually f*ck with.

LAUZZA: For me, there’s a process that you follow every time: treatment, shot list, storyboard, shoot, edit, grade – done. It’s about replacing certain aspects in that process with whatever new aspect is needed. Sometimes that plan can come about the day before or you work it out on the day you do it. Because we’ve never done this before the process has been so different on this one – bb hasn’t got the usual experience an artist would get working with me; the whole project has not been your average experience. I think it’s about making sure those elements that are film based and not AI based e.g cinematography, your grade, framing stays true to you and you try and translate your visual style.

Shenell: What was your reaction when you saw the final video?

bb: We’ve been working on it and tweaking it as we go. Literally this week LAUZZA’s sent me a new edit pretty much everyday and everyday it’s gotten better and better. The first one I saw I was like sh*t this might not make sense but then we just went back and forth. A lot of the time me and LAUZZA would have the same notes and be on the same page.

LAUZZA: When I saw the first concept drafts I had this really warm feeling that this was going to work because it was a crazy idea in my head. I completely flipped Brads original reference and I think from then I got over excited that I proved myself – that’s where the complacency came from. I thought ‘ah yeah this looks sick’ whereas actually the aesthetic definitely needed refining.

bb: Now it’s looking crazy, it feels like a piece of art! It’s its own little thing which is really cool.

Shenell: LAUZZA you often work with many artists and seem to perfectly communicate their essence via the videos you make – what would you are some things that are integral to allow you to do that?

LAUZZA: I think it’s hard to put that down into a few words because I could talk for hours about it but you’ve got to make sure you’re looking after yourself. Once you look after yourself and you’re healthy that means you’re at peak performance. Just like how an athlete trains everyday and eats healthily in order to be at peak performance – it’s the same, just training your mind. I think as well literally just practice. I’ve been doing this all my life so I feel like I want to get to a point where I’m trying something new and pushing the boat each time and trying to be a pioneer in that front.

Shenell: This song and the video are an example of how such sick things can be made in the process of collaborating – what was this process like for the both of you and how integral was collaborating both in this process and in general?

bb: For me it’s super important, whether it’s music or visuals it’s always finding people who match up with you in terms of what they listen to, what they like etc.

LAUZZA: Every artist I try and work with is always at the forefront a mate first. A big reason this came about is because I’m always bumping into bb and Sainte at events, always chatting and once I know that our brains are aligned in terms of ideologies then I know it’s going to make the project fun – that’s truly what it is. After the shoot for this video I was meant to go home, but I ended up chatting to sainte for like 3 hours and bb was in the back cooking; its moments like that that make me think ‘yeah i love my job’. 

Shenell: How was the process for you bb creating the song with Sainte?

bb: We were touring in February and after that decided to go to L.A for a month to do a bunch of sessions but also regroup and reset. We were both really shattered so we just went out there for a break. One of the days he rented a crazy air bnb – it was surreal. We were there making music and Vacant was just one of the ideas that we made that week. For sainte to put out Vacant is kinda difficult right now because sonically it’s different to a lot of the other stuff he’s done before but using me as an artist allows him to put out some different sounds. 

LAUZZA: It feels like yours and Saintes take on a film score. I feel like I can hear it in Euphoria or some A24 film.

bb: that’s a lot of the stuff we make. There’s so much music that doesn’t see the light of day which is such a shame but this was one of the songs that’s worth it so much.

Shenell: Both of your art forms almost build cinematic universes for artists but also in your own right. How would you describe the universe / spaces you’re trying to build through your work?

bb: I make a lot of music and a lot of it sounds completely different. I don’t feel like I have particularly one style or sound – what I’m trying to do is keep it open. I don’t want to be put in a box, I want to be able to really experiment and do weird things that you shouldn’t do; collab with artists that might not usually sing and get them to sing and stuff like that. That’s what I enjoy when I’m creating – doing stuff that you shouldn’t usually do and pushing boundaries. I want to constantly find weird sounds – I just love experimenting. 

LAUZZA: Everytime I do a video i’m trying to offer something new that hasn’t been done before. A lot of the time people see certain techniques and just do their own version of that but it’s about looking at it in layers and thinking what layer can i add on top of this concept. Whether that’s thematic, cinematography, editing technique or something like that – it’s always thinking, how will this slot in on the Lauzza platform. Is it something new but also does it correlate – is it speaking the same visual language.

I think I’m trying to be the Wes Anderson of the UK music video scene. Without even seeing the logo, the credits or anything attached to it – I want people to know ‘that’s a Lauzza video’. Theres so many technical aspects that make that happen – vhs textures, lighting, framing, cinematography –  it all sounds basic but once you find your niche in each of them and pair them all together you get a unique cake that no ones ever baked before.

Shenell: You’re both heavily into music – so give us an insight into what you’re listening to at the moment?

LAUZZA: For me it’s always mood based. It depends if im trying to chill out to some soul or go heavy with some Destroy Lonely. If i had to shout out one tape that has been getting me through work at the moment it’s got to be Fimmiguerrero’s new Immigrant tape – fantastic music.

bb: Honestly mine is all over the place. I’ve been listening to a lot of sample based stuff like Everybody Loves the Sunshine, Marvin Gaye but also Che Ecru – whos an R&B artist from America. 

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