The Sound of Sunrise

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, located just east of Los Angeles, is home to the largest concentration of Asian American communities in the country and remains a historically important enclave for recent Asian immigrants.

The sky is an ever-changing canvas of sights—a warm sunrise over a town, a dramatic pattern of clouds, a flock of birds doing a choreographed dance across a skyline.

88rising, an Asian media collective, wanted to turn this canvas into a sensory feast by adding a soundtrack to it. How might a song react and respond to the changing rhythms and moods of a skyline in real-time? To answer that question, they looked no farther than the San Gabriel Valley, located just east of Los Angeles and home to the largest concentration of Asian American communities in the country.

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.

As the first single from 88rising’s new compilation album “Head in the Clouds 3,” the visuals for the experience look to the clouds for cues to add musical embellishments when they appear.

It’s a whole new way to experience Hue’s song—not only sonically, but also visually. For example, as dawn rises above the Valley, the track has an ethereal, optimistic feel. Drum patterns are sparse, and audio effects like reverb float over the ambient but harmonious track.

Experience “Too Many Tears” for yourself—the singles from the installation are available on SoundCloud.

Our mission at 88rising is simple—to create a platform to celebrate Asian creatives around the world.
Sean Miyashiro
Founder and CEO of 88rising
Warren Hue wearing sunglasses, white t-shirt and blue glove.

Self reflection, shared experiences

Sean Miyashiro, founder and CEO of 88rising, wanted to offer both meditative and inspiring moments for listeners. It was also important to the creative team that the project showcase a place that’s significant to Asian American communities, reflecting on a broader shared experience around the constant nature of change.

This was especially true for Warren Hue, who wrote “Too Many Tears” in response to his experiences as an Asian artist: “’[It’s] a hip-hop and R&B song that I wrote with a unique beat and structure—reflecting on myself and my dreams and the reality of how people treat me.,”

The project is part of an evolution of Microsoft AI-powered musical collaborations, from Julianna Barwick to and Björk and now Warren Hue. But “Too Many Tears” is very much situated in a specific place, a digital manifestation of 88rising’s mission to amplify the voices of Asian and Asian American artists.