Troye Sivan and Tate McRae on their deepfake music video

The visual for their chart smash “You” uses AI tech to swap Troye, Tate and a die-hard stan’s faces.

by Douglas Greenwood
27 May 2021, 4:00pm

Image courtesy of Ministry of Sound

The internet has some really scary shit on it, but we think our fear of it piqued last year when everybody started using technology to make Greta Thunberg do TikTok dances. It’s called deepfaking, and while it’s the next big threat to fake news online, it also makes for some pretty nuts music video-making when used ethically. Case in point: the brand new visuals for Troye Sivan, Tate McRae and Regard’s summer bop “You”, which you’re obliged to listen to eight times in a row every time you click play.

The video for the track follows a die-hard stan of the musicians attempting to hack into their hard drives to get gossip on new music. While there, she decides to piece together parts of the “You” video herself, deepfaking her face onto her idols, then her idols onto herself. It’s a bit like taking a scalpel to the face of someone you’re violently obsessed with and laying it out like a sheet mask over your own. But it’s all digital, so marginally less psychotic and way less messy.

In celebration of the video’s release, we pinged some quick, probing questions to pop stars Troye and Tate and asked them their thoughts, not on pop music, but on deepfake culture and how it’s bound to be the death of us down the line. Or, maybe, just a cool thing we can use to be funny on the internet. Read their answers and watch the brand new video below. The song slaps too.

So, tell us your thoughts on deepfake culture!

Troye: I hadn’t really thought about it much until you asked me this question. I’m trying to imagine a good use of deepfake technology and I’m having a hard time. It’s kind of scary to me. Other than maybe making this music video look cool. Overall though, it’s a technology we should probably approach with caution.

Tate: I think deepfake is one of the strangest and creepiest inventions ever. the fact that artificial intelligence is able to replicate ones face and make it do whatever they want is terrifying to me.

Does it make you cautious of what you put on social media?

Tate: Yes, I think you always have to be slightly cautious on the internet. There are so many people watching your every move, and most of them are complete strangers — who don’t truly know you at all.

Troye: It does. I’ve been cautious of what I put on social media for a long time. I grew up online and have had socials since I was probably 12. I feel like there’s this innate feeling within me that knew whatever I put on the internet lasts forever. I’m really grateful that I did, because I worry a lot for young people online. The iPad kids. I don’t know if it’ll be innate to them, that they’ll understand [the risks], or if they’ll put everything online and pay for it later. That’s really scary to me.

Can you explain the process of making the video and your thoughts on the finished product?

Tate: Honestly, so much of the video was about the editing in post-production — so I really had no idea how it was going to turn out. I think the whole concept is super smart and interesting and I cannot wait for everyone to see it. It’s like a mini thriller movie.

Troye: Sometimes I think Covid has been creatively liberating because you have to think out of the box. We’ve shot everything from TV performances to this music video in three different continents. Tate was in LA, I was in Melbourne, Regard was in Kosovo. We made it work, and this idea takes the limitations and stretches them into inspiration for a really cool idea.

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Troye Sivan