A voice in the clouds

Exploring visuals, voice, and virtual expression in music.
A night time view of the Head in the Clouds festival, showing Clo reacting to the artist on stage.

88rising—an Asian media collective—and Microsoft collaborate to showcase musicians, visual artists, and video producers. Using Microsoft AI, Azure, Cognitive Serves, and Custom Neural Voice, artists connect with fans in novel ways.

“Our mission at 88rising is simple—to create a platform to celebrate Asian creatives around the world,” says Sean Miyashiro, Founder and CEO of 88rising.

Closeup image of Spence Lee looking at the camera with a pink sky and blurry trees in the background.

Spence Lee’s creativity doesn’t stop with music. He’s always had a visual flare and style that made him a natural on stage, a runway, or in front of a camera. His creations build on his background in a multicultural New Jersey community, and his family’s Vietnamese and Chinese heritage. Creating his own hand-drawn clothing for his performances is one way that he brings a personal touch to his artistry.

Finding a tool like Bing Image Creator to help work through his ideas was a natural fit for someone who loves visual expression. The idea he had for the look of his performance at the Head in the Clouds festival brought together references to his life, combining styles and ancient artworks. He used Bing Image Creator as a starting point to visualize these ideas. He transferred the inspirations to a hand-drawn outfit to wear on stage, created a graphic backdrop for his show, and used them as a feature in his music video “Spend My Days”.

“I always had an abundance of ideas but not necessarily an abundance of funding or materials to execute each idea, but with the AI you can map it out with unlimited ideas,” says Spence Lee.

Watch his ideas come to life
Jackson Wang pictured in a black shirt and glasses with colored lenses as he smiles in front of a shiny gold and black patterned background.

Jackson Wang is a singer, performer, creative director, actor, and founder of TEAM WANG records and TEAM WANG design. He also developed the MAGIC MAN persona for his latest album “MAGIC MAN.” 88rising is excited to bring Jackson’s magical world to life for the 2023 tour and festival season with The MAGIC MAN Experience. Fans enter an “elevator” and are transported to the MAGIC MAN world, a place that mixes reality with virtual realms. Using Computer Vision Spatial Analysis to detect movement in real time, Microsoft Azure Kinect to manipulate auras, and OpenAI’s GPT tech to inspire new magic-isms, the experience transports fans into Jackson’s captivating imagination. Shareable clips are available for fans to keep after their visit.

Watch “The MAGIC MAN”
A woman sitting on a chair in a dark room.

Award-winning singer, songwriter, and music producer Akini Jing is engaging more deeply with fans, giving them access to her cybernetic mind. With the release of her new music, she’s sharing her creative process through her cyborg dreams. Microsoft AI helped bring these dreams to life using Azure’s cloud platform, creating AI-driven lyric videos for “7 Night “Over the Bones”, and Akini’s newest single, “Pump Up”. AI visuals generated with Azure’s creative services send viewers to alternate universes, distant planets, and alien landscapes. Fans can journey through Akini’s dreams while singing along with her diverse catalog.

Watch “Pump Up”
A crowd of people in front of a large stage with a screen displaying a cloud, with cloud decorations on the top

When the plan to create a mascot for 88rising’s Head in the Clouds festival started to come together, they had a name, design, animation ideas, and so many places to use it. However, they felt like the animated cloud character called Clo might be missing something. Clo’s persona could really come to life with a voice. Working with Microsoft, the team used Azure AI’s Custom Neural Voice technology, as well as Azure Speech Studio to train a unique voice for the character to inhabit. 88rising brought in Kyedae, a streamer/gamer from 100 Thieves, to use her voice as the basis for Clo’s. Her unique voice was exactly what 88rising needed to bring Clo to life. Kyedae read a list of example phrases known as “prompts” to train the technology, giving Clo a bright and fun voice for the festival and beyond. Get some insights into the behind-the-scenes process with Kyedae and the 88rising team.

“Knowing that there are going to be thousands of people listening to my voice…is going to be absolutely incredible,” says Kyedae.

Watch “Clo comes to life”
JJ Lin using AI to paint on a screen

88rising, Steve Aoki, and JJ Lin collaborated to create “The Show,” the first single from FLUXGEN, a partnership between 88rising and Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Records. The music video features visuals generated by AI powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. This approach gave the team a vast range of experimental possibilities including generative textures and morphing effects. In the process of creating the video, Co-Director Jon Primo explored how to use AI to further enhance the visuals with AI generated scenes.

“I thought about the concept to create a world where the foreground is a moving painting, and the background is its own canvas. That’s when I thought about using AI,” says Jon Primo, Co-Director of “The Show”.

Making of “The Show”
Boy with arms raised, walking on an orange ground with bottles of ketchup and mustard floating around him, stars in the sky, cheeseburgers on the ground, and a black sky.

Rapper and “BOY OF THE YEAR,” Warren Hue, curated a fantastical way to step into a world filled with low-fi artifacts like giant ketchup squeeze bottles, faux palm trees, and a motorcycle glove from his musical journey and celebratory year. Warren released a new album in 2022 titled “BOY OF THE YEAR” and wanted fans to have a fun, interactive way to experience it. Using Microsoft Azure AI and Custom Vision capabilities to capture a 360 degree performance, an AR and web music experience were created to land fans in the midst of the BOTY world. As fans jumped into the AR, Warren came to life right in the palm of their hands, tilting their devices up, Warren would be seen falling out of the sky, while rapping one of his hit songs from the album. In typical Warren fashion, the experience is catered to the Y2K futuristic aesthetic that he is known for, and the 360-degree music video gives fans a chance to see Warren in the round and engulfed in the objects of the year. Check out the experiences and be sure to turn your volume up!

“BOY OF THE YEAR was an idea that I came up with because I wanted to speak on being out here in LA, a world full of stars,” says Warren Hue.

Experience BOTY
Warren Hue wearing sunglasses, white t-shirt and blue glove.

What is the sound of a sunrise, or a bird flying across the horizon? An installation from media collective 88rising and rapper Warren Hue explore these questions and more in a soundtrack that changes in real-time, using AI to react to events in the skyline of a vibrant Asian-American community. The San Gabriel Valley is home to largest concentration of Asian American communities in the country and remains a historically important enclave for recent Asian immigrants. Using a video feed streaming from an overlook above the Valley, the installation took 88rising artist Warren Hue’s track “Too Many Tears” and remixed it using AI as it reacted to events in the landscape and skyline in real-time.

Learn more