meta-script2024 GRAMMYs On The Hill: How Sens. John Cornyn & Amy Klobuchar Support Music & Advocate For Creators’ Rights |
Sens. John Cornyn & Amy Klobuchar
Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will be honored at the 2024 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards on Tuesday, April 30, in Washington, D.C.

Photos: (L-R): Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media; Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images


2024 GRAMMYs On The Hill: How Sens. John Cornyn & Amy Klobuchar Support Music & Advocate For Creators’ Rights

Get to know 2024 GRAMMYs on the Hill honorees Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who have championed the music industry through their legislative efforts.

Advocacy/Apr 29, 2024 - 09:34 pm

The 2024 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards is sponsored by City National Bank and benefits the GRAMMY Museum.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have left significant imprints on the music industry through their legislative efforts. This week, the Recording Academy is recognizing and celebrating their contributions to advancing pro-music legislation as honorees at the 2024 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards on Tuesday, April 30, in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Cornyn, hailing from Texas, has been a steadfast supporter of music creators throughout his tenure in Congress. He played a pivotal role in championing the Save Our Stages Act, which provided a crucial lifeline to venues affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with a $16 billion federal relief program. This substantial funding injection marked the largest-ever U.S. federal investment in the arts, underscoring Cornyn's commitment to preserving the cultural landscape and supporting music venues nationwide. Additionally, he has been instrumental in shaping key policies that benefit the music community, including his collaborative efforts with Sen. Klobuchar on initiatives such as the Fans First Act, aimed at reforming live event ticketing to better protect artists and fans alike.

"As a Texan, a love of live music is in my blood, and I've been proud to lead the charge on legislation that helps artists, entertainers, and venues meet the needs of their fans, including the Save Our Stages Act and the Fans First Act," Sen. Cornyn said. "I want to thank the Recording Academy for honoring me, and I look forward to continue to work on behalf of performers and fans across Texas and the nation."  

Learn More: GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards 2024: Everything You Need To Know Including Mission, Goals, Honorees & Achievements

Sen. Klobuchar, representing Minnesota, has emerged as a prominent figure in advocating for music creators' rights and shaping legislation to support the industry. As a key supporter of the Music Modernization Act, she played a pivotal role in ushering in the most significant update to music licensing in over 40 years. This landmark legislation revolutionized royalty payments for songwriters, ensured fair compensation for legacy artists, and provided essential protections for producers and engineers under copyright law. And, during the COVID-19 pandemic she took the lead, alongside Senator Cornyn, in crafting the historic Save our Stages Act to ensure live music venues would remain in business for artists and fans to enjoy for years to come. 

"It's an honor to be recognized by the Recording Academy, an organization that uplifts performers, songwriters, and other music professionals in our country," Sen. Klobuchar said. "Music has the power to bring us together and it is something we can never take for granted. That’s why I fought to pass the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act with Sen. Cornyn to ensure independent arts venues survived the pandemic, and why we are working together to improve the ticketing experience with the Fans First Act. There's nothing like live music and concerts, and I remain committed to ensuring artists can continue to share their music with the fans who love it." 

Both Sens. Cornyn and Klobuchar have actively engaged with the music community, participating in events such as GRAMMYs on the Hill and meeting with Recording Academy members to gain insights into the industry's pressing issues and priorities. Their unwavering commitment to advancing creator-friendly legislation and their collaborative efforts in shaping impactful policies underscore their dedication to supporting music creators and nurturing the vibrancy of the music ecosystem.

This year, the Recording Academy is also working with Sens. Cornyn and Klobuchar to further several key pieces of legislation, including the Fans First Act, which represent the most comprehensive set of reforms to strengthen the live event ticketing marketplace and protect fans, artists, and independent small businesses.

As the 118th Congress continues its legislative work, the Recording Academy looks forward to continuing its collaboration with Sens. Cornyn and Klobuchar, recognizing them as invaluable allies in the ongoing effort to uplift and safeguard the interests of music creators nationwide.

Academy Members Advance The Fight For Artists' Rights in State Capitals Across the Country

Sheryl Crow performing in 2024
Sheryl Crow performs in Franklin, Tennessee in March 2024.

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images


5 Ways Sheryl Crow Has Made An Impact: Advocating For Artist Rights, Uplifting Young Musicians & More

As the Recording Academy honors Sheryl Crow at the 2024 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards, take a look at some of her biggest contributions to the music community and other social causes.

GRAMMYs/Apr 30, 2024 - 06:05 pm

Sheryl Crow may be a nine-time GRAMMY winner and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, but her legacy extends far beyond her music. She has dedicated her career to advocating for her fellow artists and social causes close to her heart — and that's why she's one of the honorees at this year's GRAMMYs on the Hill.

On April 30, Crow will be honored at Washington's premier annual celebration of music and advocacy alongside Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) for their bipartisan spearheading of the Save Our Stages Act and the Fans First Act. The "All I Wanna Do" singer called receiving her GRAMMYs on the Hill award "a tremendous honor…because protecting the rights of creators is more important now than ever before."

Helping creators thrive has long been part of Crow's career. She has made it her lifelong mission to support other artists and stand up for causes she believes in, from co-founding a pioneering advocacy group for musicians to supporting the music program at her alma mater. 

Below, check out five ways Sheryl Crow has exemplified advocacy within the music industry — and beyond — over the course of her career.

The 2024 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards is sponsored by City National Bank and benefits the GRAMMY Museum.

She Co-Founded The Recording Artists' Coalition

In 2000, Crow and fellow GRAMMY winner (and previous GRAMMYs on the Hill honoree) Don Henley founded the Recording Artists' Coalition. The organization's mission is to represent artists, defending their rights and interests and challenging unfair industry practices. 

One of the advocacy group's first major legislative wins came in its founding year, when then-President Bill Clinton signed a law repealing The Works Made for Hire and Copyright Corrections Act. The provision had designated musical recordings as "works for hire," thereby taking away many artists' rights to royalties.

In 2009, the Recording Artists' Coalition aligned with the Recording Academy to continue the organization's work as part of the Academy's Advocacy and Public Policy office. (Crow is also a member of the Music Artists Coalition, which was founded in 2019 and has a similar mission to protect artists' rights.)

She's Sounded The Alarm About The Dangers Of AI

Crow released her eleventh studio set, Evolution, in March and tackled the topic of artificial intelligence head-on via the LP's ominous title track. "Turned on the radio and there it was/ A song that sounded like something I wrote/ The voice and melody were hauntingly/ So familiar that I thought it was a joke," she sings on the opening stanza before questioning, "Is it beyond intelligence/ As if the soul need not exist?"

The prolific singer/songwriter explained her decision to put her concerns about AI's threat to creativity, songwriting and even artists' ownership over their own voices in an interview on the podcast Q with Tom Power earlier this month.

"It terrifies me that artists can be brought back from the dead; it terrifies me that I can sing to you a song that I had absolutely nothing to do with and you'll believe it," she said. "And so I'm waiting to see if the best of us will rise up and say, 'This cannot be' 'cause our kids need to understand that truth is truth. There is a truth, and the rest of it is non-truth." 

Later in the wide-ranging conversation, Crow added her insight into how technology, social media and the modern streaming economy are all negatively impacting listeners' relationship to music as well. "We need music that tells our story now more than we've ever needed it," she urged. "And yet, we're going to bring in technology — already, algorithms are killing our ability to even not only listen to a whole song, but to experience it at a spiritual level."

She's Championed Racial Equality In The Music Business

Amid the summer of marches, demonstrations and other civil actions in the wake of George Floyd's tragic 2020 murder, Crow used her platform and privilege as a white musician to help shine a light on the plight of Black musicians fighting for equality within the music industry.

"I stand in solidarity with the Black Music Action Coalition in their efforts to end systematic racism and racial inequality in the music business," she wrote in a 2020 social media post. "It is impossible to overestimate the contribution of Black people in our industry; Black culture has inexorably shaped the trajectory of nearly every musical genre. Most artists, myself included, simply would not be here without it. The time to acknowledge this fact is long overdue."

Crow went on to call for the music business to become a "shining example of reform to other industries." She added, "Acknowledging and making amends for both historic and ongoing inequalities, and creating a path forward to ensure they never occur again, is our highest calling."

She's A Charitable Powerhouse

Crow has long made philanthropy a central priority in her life. Along with supporting the Recording Academy's own MusiCares initiative, the "Steve McQueen" singer has backed and partnered with a veritable laundry list of non-profit organizations including, but not limited to, The Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the World Food Program, ADOPT A CLASSROOM, Pelotonia, the Delta Children's Home, Stevie Van Zandt's TeachRock Artist Council and more. 

Additionally, she's spoken out countless times about gun violence, Medicaid expansion, women's health, mental health, the death penalty, LGBTQ+ rights, and a host of other issues, particularly affecting Tennessee, where she now calls home. 

The "Soak Up The Sun" songstress has also used her musical talents to give back over the course of her career. In fact, just weeks before releasing Evolution, she contributed to the star-studded 2024 re-release of Mark Knopfler's 1983 debut solo single "Going Home: Theme of the Local Hero" to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

She Supports Music's Next Generation

A proud alumnus of the University of Missouri, Crow holds a degree in music education and has continually given back to her alma mater's music program in an effort to support the future generations of music makers. 

In 2015, Crow headlined her own benefit concert for the Mizzou School of Music's fundraising campaign, which led to the choral performance and rehearsal hall inside the campus' Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield Music Center being rechristened Sheryl Crow Hall in early 2022. 

As she's achieved veteran status in the music industry, Crow has also made a particular point to uplift and champion young female artists. In 2019, she partnered with TODAY for its "Women Who Rock: Music and Mentorship" series, and in 2020, took part in Citi's #SeeHerHearHer campaign to boost representation of women in music. More recently, she has touted Taylor Swift as a "powerhouse" and offered career advice to her now-frequent "If It Makes You Happy" duet partner, Olivia Rodrigo.

Whether she's inspiring young women or advocating for music creators of all kinds, Sheryl Crow has already left an indelible mark on the music industry. And if her previous efforts are any indication, she's not stopping anytime soon.

GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards 2024: Everything You Need To Know Including Mission, Goals, Honorees & Achievements

Photo of the immersive Bowie 75 music exhibition

Photo: Ignacio Linares


The Pandemic Robbed Music Of Its Rapport. These Immersive Experiences Are Restoring It In Mind-Blowing Ways.

Sorry, music community: virtual concerts have proven to be no substitute for the real thing. In lieu of festivals and gigs, though — pandemic or no pandemic — these creatives are dreaming up fascinating new avenues to experience music together.

GRAMMYs/Jan 7, 2022 - 04:13 am

David Bowie may have always been moving forward, but he wasn't averse to marking time with an extravagant party. Back in 1997, he celebrated his 50th birthday party at (where else?) Madison Square Garden, joined by everyone from Foo Fighters to Billy Corgan to Lou Reed.

Sadly, he never got to celebrate his 75th, as he passed away at 69 in 2016. But how would he have rang in the occasion? His stakeholders recently contemplated that very question.

"If David were here, he would do something to mark the 75th — therefore, we should anyway," executive and entrepreneur Lawrence Peryer tells "Some new way to engage with David, but also to reach the new generation of fans." 

Given the breath of his discography — and how his fanbase precipitously expands like the boundaries of the cosmos — newly minted acolytes may not know where to begin.

The "Bowie 75" pop-up in Manhattan. Photo: Ignacio Linares

That's why Peryer spearheaded two pop-ups on Heddon St. in London and Wooster St. in the late legend's neighborhood of Soho, Manhattan. Branded as "Bowie 75," the spaces (which opened in Oct. 2021 and will run through late Jan. 2022) are a blend of a retail store, fine art gallery, and Sony 360 Reality Audio space, with Bowie's various personas — Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke — peering at visitors from all directions.

For Bowie disciples and neophytes alike, these spaces offer a tangible, tactile alternative to what Peryer calls "pointing and clicking at home and having a T-shirt dropped off at your door." And he's not the only musical titan to receive such a treatment. Whether it be a splashy pop-up or something even more enveloping, Bob Marleythe Rolling Stonesthe Velvet Underground and Leonard Cohen have similarly planted a flag in meatspace.

But what do these spaces signify in the long run? Can only artists of Bowie's caliber pull this off profitably? Do immersive spaces play a secondary role in the musical ecosystem? And is this the future of how bands interact with fans outside of concerts and festivals?

Here’s how those questions might be answered within the various domains of immersive experiences.

The "Bowie 75" pop-up in Manhattan. Photo: Ignacio Linares

Splashy Pop-Ups

First, to address the question of profitability: the "Bowie 75" spaces are openly retail shops at their core, selling T-shirts, boxed sets and other memorabilia.

"David was a very technicolor artist. He was a pop artist, he wasn't just a fine artist," Peryer says. "So it's okay to have a commercial element or to have excitement and hype."

That said, "We've been very clear with everyone that they are stores, but we didn't want them to simply be stores," he adds. "We wanted to do something that honored the spirit of David creatively, technologically, and also to appeal to a younger audience who wanted them to have experiential elements."

Like the Bowie pop-ups, the Rolling Stones' tongue-and-lips-filled "RS No. 9 Carnaby Street" in Soho, London — a permanent retail store rather than a pop-up — isn't a tacky way to bank on an artist's face, but a sleek, trendy boutique. And like "Bowie 75," its architects are less concerned with the immediate bottom line than its ripple effects in the subject's legacy.

The "Bowie 75" pop-up in Manhattan. Photo: Ignacio Linares

"In a traditional retail store you're planning these things on a very long lead timeline, so we're doing the same thing here," Mat Vlasic, the CEO of Bravado — Universal Music Group's merchandise and brand management company — told Rolling Stone in 2020, adding that the flexibility of said timeline allows for enhanced creative freedom.

There are also Queen and Jack White stores in London, and other household names, from Ed Sheeran to Kanye West, from the Strokes to Kendrick Lamar, have promoted their wares with pop-ups. But for whatever reason, erecting a permanent, artist-specific, brick-and-mortar store hasn't translated stateside.

"In America, they tend to be more event-based pop-ups. It might be a long weekend or something around an album release," Peryer says. "So, I just don't see the long-term investment in retail happening here as much."

A rendering of the "One Love" exhibit in London.

Immersive Exhibits & Performances

Aside from pop-up shops, there's another celebration of a musical icon on the way for fans across the pond. In Feb. 2022, the Bob Marley "One Love" experience will launch at the Satchi Gallery in London. Rather than simply guide visitors through a list of his accomplishments, the exhibit offers unconventional immersions into his hobbies, passions and personality.

"As you exit the music room, you enter the One Love Forest," says Terrapin Station CEO Jonathan Shank, clicking through a 3D mockup. "It's inspired by a Jamaican rainforest and the rural Jamaican landscape, and honestly celebrates a lot of Bob's lifestyle and his roots." Elsewhere, the "A Beautiful Life" room contains foosball tables, soccer goalposts and a pinball machine, celebrating Marley's extramusical pastimes.

This nonlinear approach reflects that of tangible tributes in the States. "A Crack in Everything," a 2019 exhibit dedicated to Leonard Cohen at the Jewish Museum in New York, featured swinging microphones and a ghostly, piped-in choir of online participants, as well as “Depression Chamber,” an installation where the viewer lays in a bed in a darkened room while eerie images manifest on the ceiling.

A rendering of the "One Love" exhibit in London.

Pre-pandemic Bowie and Velvet Underground exhibits — the former at Brooklyn Museum, the latter in downtown Manhattan — similarly left the visitor awash in iconography, era-specific signifiers, and most importantly, classic songs. Immersive music events don't have to be tied to legendary artists, though. 

One Night Records, a London venue that bills itself as "a nightly festival of live music in an underground maze" and "part gig, part festival, part musical adventure," was able to successfully throw "immersive promenade shows" during the thick of COVID-19 by entertaining groups of 40 in 40-minute slots, rather than 300 people at once.

"I think the thing with immersive spaces is this idea of audience agency, that they get to curate their own evening," the venue’s producer, Phoebe Stringer, says. "They can go and see what they want. They can go and be where they want. And it gives them just so much more autonomy as an audience member."

Musicians perform a staged funeral for the "death" of live music during a One Night Records event. Photo: Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images

When it comes to One Night Records, the choices are manifold — participants can enjoy a traditional brass band in The River Railroad, vibe out at the Jazz Bar, or travel through time and space to Jump City, a wartime juke-joint with Rosie the Riveter looming overhead.

Granted, a sense of self-curation applies to the majority of VR events throughout London. But Edel McGrath, the Venue Director for One Night Records, believes there's one relatively untapped market.

"It feels like, no one's really touched on the music side of it, and no one's touched it the way we have," she asserts. "I feel like we can only kind of get bigger and better in that aspect."

Overall, "I think what makes this whole new form of entertainment fun," Shank says, "is that you're not coming here to see ticket stubs and platinum records. You're going to see those things, but you're coming here for the experience of what it feels like … You want the audience to feel like they're in it at all times until they leave."

And in the realm of virtual reality, a gaggle of visionaries are trying to take that feeling into another dimension.

Simeon Hammond Dallas performs on the Dustbowl stage at One Night Records. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images 

Crossing Into VR

Aside from the plethora of holographic concerts by deceased musicians — Frank ZappaRoy OrbisonTupac Shakur — virtual reality companies are actively staking claims in the music space.

Ernest Lee, the co-CEO of AmazeVR, a company at the nexus of VR and music, admits that the technology can be a tough sell — but if it's executed carefully, it can "bring artists closer to fans than ever before."

"One of the worst things for VR is bad VR, and that gives people an impression of what they think VR is," he suggests. "But a common refrain that we hear when people see our VR concerts is that they never expect anything like this."

AmazeVR both collaborates with theaters — transforming them into virtual reality spaces where the audience is outfitted with headsets, viewing their neighbors as avatars — and converts their experience to 2D for mobile use.

What do they have on the docket right now? An immersive concert in partnership with Roc Nation, featuring three-time GRAMMY winner Megan Thee Stallion.

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"The early footage has been coming out — it's going to be pretty incredible," Lee glows. "It's Meg herself, able to extend a personal invitation to fans that come into her music and join her on this journey." In this case, fans get a virtual, one-on-one concert by Meg, and AmazeVR says they have other A-list artists on the way.

Production costs are heavy for AmazeVR right now, Lee admits. But as with the pop-up creators, they're seeing the forest for the trees: Every production is another brick in the foundation of their virtual database that can add up to dividends down the line.

"Everything we make, we add it to our own library. And also we start automating things as much as possible as well," Lee says. "The lead time is quite long, but as we can drive that lead time way down and the costs way down, then we can make this available for all artists."

While AmazeVR does offer at-home purchases, "Right now, it's only financially viable for A-listers," he admits. "But once the VR industry and the metaverse continue to grow and develop and reach mass adoption, there could be a mean audience there."

A performance by Miro Shot. Photo courtesy of Roman Rappak.

Smaller Bands Getting Involved

While posh retail outposts, museum exhibits and VR extravaganzas are generally walled off to smaller bands at this time, that doesn't mean the creativity stops beyond superstars.

Back in 2015, Jamie xx of the XX and his label Young Turks turned a small Shoreditch boutique into a rainbow-hued record store. When rock band the Used had to cancel an in-person pop-up due to COVID-19, they made a 3D, interactive one. And between shows in NYC, the Baltimore hardcore band Turnstile celebrated the release of their 2021 breakout album GLOW ON with a pop-up in the Lower East Side, selling skate decks and limited-edition vinyl.

But where these pop-ups were mainly offshoots of bands' album cycles, Roman Rappak took the immersive route much, much further. His band, Miro Shot, is something of a hybrid between a band and a tech startup.

"I put out a couple of records with a previous band, and we toured, and did all the things you're supposed to do as a band," Rappak says. "But it got to a point where I realized we were in the model of what bands were in the '50s and '60s, and at the same time, all this exciting stuff is happening in tech."

Looking to start a band that was "a love letter to technology," Rappak and his bandmates toured around Europe, playing cinemas and warehouses where the audience wore VR headsets.

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"At a certain point, we can synchronize the headsets with the music so our audience would suddenly be in the middle of a chorus, flying over a lake or through some sort of spatial landscape," he adds. "It went from being this kind of weird art-punk project to venture capitalists in Silicon Valley saying, 'We'd like to invest in this startup.'"

There was only one problem: Miro Shot was a band, not a startup. Still, they were open to the idea of bleeding their concept from one domain into another — and wound up inviting game designers, filmmakers and coders into their band.

"Somehow, we've had better luck doing that than we would've done with my previous band," he says, "where we were trying to get on these Spotify playlists where 40,000 tracks are uploaded [per day]." And while nobody in Miro Shot "bought a Tesla" upon signing a deal with the record label Believe, it's inarguable that their immersive angle was the ticket to more success.

Because the fact of the matter is, in 2022, album sales are down while the metaverse is exploding. "There are 2.8 billion gamers in the world who are suddenly starting to go to concerts," Rappak reports. "There's about to be this massive convergence between all these things."

A performance by Miro Shot. Photo courtesy of Roman Rappak.

A New Form Of Rapport

Despite a deluge of virtual concerts and festivals since early 2020, all of the above creators agree that the point of musical experiences is the rapport — feeling waves of reactive emotion comb through dozens, hundreds or thousands of consciousnesses at once.

And that's exactly what these immersive spaces are tapping into, whether it be a pop-up or something much weirder and wilder.

"All these [artists] are the fabric of what we think of as music — whether it's the Smiths or the Cure or Wu-Tang or the Stones, or whoever it is — were because of these visceral moments where people were packed together and there wasn't that much space," Rappak says.

He compares the intimate experiences (replicable by VR) to stadium experiences, where the audience is far denser, yet the act has to make up for the distance with pyrotechnics and lights.

"I want to go into a world where I'm face-to-face with six other fans of this band, and I want to go to an afterparty where it's just the 10 of us," he adds. "It's about, 'I'm there and I count' — that I'm relevant within this space."

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Indeed, after almost two years of relative isolation, the core reason we all enjoy music — to find new ways to engage with and relate to each other as human beings — is loud and clear.

"Fans like to do things. They go to events, they wait backstage, they wait near the stage door, they get together and argue and debate," Peryer says. "Of course, you can do all those things online. But I think the nature of fandom is to go out and experience the art and interact with it."

And whether together physically or in the metaverse, at a boutique or a stadium, the frontiers of how we can immerse ourselves in music together seem mostly untapped. That is, as long as promoters, venue owners, and tech developers keep their imaginations about them.

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Apollo Theater

The Apollo Theater

Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images


From Small Stages To The GRAMMY Stage: How Four Venue Professionals Became Presenters At The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show

Operators and staff at the Station Inn, the Troubadour, the Apollo Theater and Hotel Café appeared during the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show to petition viewers for help—and promise an epic party for them if they do

GRAMMYs/Mar 24, 2021 - 07:43 pm

The Recording Academy reimagined everything about the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show on a more intimate scale, and the choice of presenters was no different. When it came time to announce the Best Country Album winner, the person who appeared on screen wasn't a slick Nashville superstar, but a soft-spoken, older man who's unrecognizable to a global audience but beloved in the Music City. His name was J.T. Gray, and he grinned ear-to-ear on national TV.

In a segment recorded a month prior, Gray showed the camera crew around the Station Inn, the 145-person-capacity bluegrass venue he'd owned since 1981. Despite the room receiving almost no income for a year due to the live music industry shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gray was rosy about the future. "Getting to reopen the Station Inn, that's going to be a celebration like never before," he promised. "It's going to be a big party." He then announced the winner, Miranda Lambert, to the world. Gray was naturally quiet and reserved, a closed book. Not after that shoot, though.

"He was just beside himself the whole time," Jeff Brown, the Station Inn's marketing director, tells "He just never believed it was happening. He just didn't believe that his little venue was being recognized on that kind of scale, that those many people in a place with the GRAMMYs and the Recording Academy's recognition actually paid attention. He just couldn't believe it." On Sunday, March 14, Gray astonishedly watched himself on CBS. The following Saturday, he passed away after a struggle with compounding health problems.

Gray might not get to attend the "big party" when things open up. But 9 million people heard his message.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The Troubadour offers our deepest condolences to JT Grey’s family, friends, and those at <a href="">@stationinn1974</a>. JT created a special home for bluegrass, country music, and more in Nashville, TN. He leaves behind a beautiful legacy and will be missed by many.<a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Troubadour (@theTroubadour) <a href="">March 24, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

For a year, venues worldwide have been hanging on by a thread: struggling to pay their rent, waiting in vain for federal aid, and given no clear finish line as to when they can reopen. That's why, with the Recording Academy's blessing, Executive Producer Ben Winston asked Gray, as well as representatives from the Troubadour and Hotel Café in Los Angeles and the Apollo Theater in New York City, to present at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards and talk about their economic struggles during the pandemic. Together, they sounded a shared refrain to the world: We matter to our communities, and we need help.

The venues that spoke their piece during the 63rd GRAMMY Awards were members of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). An assemblage of independent venue owners and promoters from around the country, NIVA formed directly in response to the 2020 lockdown. "We figured we'd better find a way to come together and lobby for federal assistance," Audrey Schaefer, a board member and the Communications Director for NIVA, tells "Because otherwise, we're all going under."

The Steel Wheels at Station Inn in 2015. Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music via Getty Images

Last year, NIVA, along with the Recording Academy and other music organizations, lobbied Congress via the Save Our Stages Act and succeeded. On Dec. 27, the decree became the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and passed along with the COVID relief package. "In that grant fund is $16 billion," Schaefer says. "For an organization that didn't exist before … nobody gave us any hopes of being able to secure that kind of funding. But we did. We got the law passed."

However, venues have not yet seen that money. "We understand that the applications will start at the beginning of April," she adds with relief in her voice.

In the meantime, Scheafer mulled over how best to convey to the world the existential crises venues face. "I was thinking that the GRAMMYs couldn't possibly be at the Beverly Hilton like it normally is—in a big ballroom—because we can't be together," she says. "I thought, 'What if the GRAMMYs were to have the award show, and instead of having all the performances under one roof, they were to have them in independent venues?'"

To try and give this idea legs, Schaefer reached out to Daryl Friedman, Chief Advocacy Officer of the Recording Academy's Advocacy division. "He said, 'Listen, Audrey, I think that's a great idea, but they have a million great ideas. So, let me take it to them and we'll see what happens,'" she recalls. Schaefer persistently followed up. "I kept asking Daryl, 'What do you think? What are you hearing?'"

But unbeknown to her, the Recording Academy and the production team were already independently planning to highlight independent venues and their employees as an advocacy initiative and add a personal moment to the broadcast. "And then I found out that, oh my gosh, they do want to do it," she adds with awe.

Billie Eilish at the Troubadour in 2019. Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Granted, the Recording Academy didn't agree to host performances at independent venues. But Schaefer calls the idea they decided to go with "so much better." Instead, venue professionals would take viewers on a tour of their workplaces, illustrating their value to their communities and why they desperately need help. Participants included the Station Inn's Gray; Rachelle Erratchu, the night manager at the Troubadour; Billy Mitchell, the tour guide and overall house cat at the Apollo Theater in Harlem; and Candice Fox, a bartender at the Hotel Café in Hollywood.

For Erratchu, the problem extends further than keeping the lights on at the Troubadour; the entire live music ecosystem is in trouble. "We need everybody else to survive so that we can survive," she tells "If we don't exist and all the other venues across the country don't exist, the tour circuit as we know it and have relied on it for decades won't exist anymore."

For Billy Mitchell, the Historical Tour Manager and overall global representative of the Apollo Theater who has earned the title of "Mr. Apollo," his job isn't a means to an end; he lives and breathes it. Mitchell's time at the Apollo began in 1965 when he ran errands for James Brown and his band. During the telecast, Mitchell relates a funny story of how the Godfather of Soul sent him all the way home to the Bronx to get his report card, threatening to put his job on ice if he didn't get better grades.

COVID forced the Apollo to temporarily furlough some its staff. To be forced to stop, it was heartbreaking, to be honest with you," Mitchell tells "I give tours to people from all over the world, and they're unable to visit because of COVID restrictions and things like that." While the not-for-profit has offered digital programming in the meantime, most of it has been free as not to burden fans. Thankfully, at press time, all staff members have returned full-time.

Billy Mitchell at the Apollo Theater in 2009. Photo: Jemal Countess/WireImage via Getty Images​

The Apollo has been lucky, in a sense; corporate and private donations have kept it afloat. Still, they're not out of the woods yet. "Donations are needed so that when we do reopen, we can pump out those great shows and bring back our staff," Mitchell says. "We want to bring back our staff as soon as possible." 

In the clip played during the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show, Mitchell addressed viewers from the empty audience. "We miss our audience and we can't wait until our doors open up again," he says. "We just can't wait."

Candice Fox, a bartender at Hollywood's Hotel Café, believes there will be an outpouring of activity at her workplace once it's safe again. "I like to believe people are going to want to make up for lost time," she tells "I know that people are itching to perform. People are so excited to experience that exchange of energy again. So, I think it's going to explode."

In line with Erratchu's thoughts on the overall music ecosystem, Fox notes that Katy Perry cut her teeth at the 65-capacity room on Cahuenga Boulevard. "She wasn't the big pop star she is now; she was just a girl with a guitar," she says. "So many artists' careers and the GRAMMYs couldn't exist without small, independent venues like the Hotel Café because you've got to start somewhere." In her clip, Fox ruminates on the regulars she's missed for a year, pouring a Boddingtons and mixing an Old Fashioned to an array of empty stools.

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds at Hotel Café in 2015. Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images​   

At the end of every venue vignette, each venue representative announced the winner of their assigned categories: Best Country Album for Gray (Miranda Lambert's Wildcard), Best Pop Solo Performance for Erratchu (Harry Styles' "Watermelon Sugar"), Best Rap Song for Billy Mitchell (Beyoncé's and Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage Remix") and Album Of The Year for Fox (Taylor Swift's folklore). All four were thrilled to appear and encourage viewers to support their workplaces—whether by donating directly, paying for a livestream or purchasing a T-shirt. 

That way, the lights at the Station Inn, the Troubadour, the Apollo and Hotel Café can flare up again, ensuring these cultural hubs don't become figments of the past. And if you want to know how memorable the inevitable "COVID is over" parties will be, just look at Gray's blazing smile during the GRAMMYs.

"I can probably count a very [small] number of times that I've seen him truly smile," the Station Inn's Brown reflects. "But truly smiling—that's what he was doing here."

Click here to support the Station Inn.

Click here to support the Troubadour.

Click here to support the Apollo Theater.

Click here to support Hotel Café.

Click here to support NIVA.

Capturing Los Angeles' COVID-Closed Venues



Photo: Mac Boucher & Neil Hansen


Grimes' Non-Violent Utopia

Seven months after releasing the far-reaching 'Miss Anthropocene,' the pop experimentalist talks to about how her 2020 is going, the frustrating paradoxes of pregnancy and motherhood, humane technology and more

GRAMMYs/Sep 29, 2020 - 08:07 pm

There is no current artist quite like Grimes. From making a science fiction-inspired album (2010's Geidi Primes) in her Montreal bedroom to becoming an alt-pop favorite with 2012's Visions (also made in said sleeping quarters) to becoming celeb gossip fodder because of her famous CEO boyfriend, she has always remained 100 percent herself. On each of her five albums, she's stayed true to her D.I.Y. and experimental ethos—writing, singing, producing and engineering all the music herself and pushing creative boundaries every time, bringing us further into her enticing, otherworldly dimension. She also created each trippy album cover and directed every wild music video, collaborating with her brother Mac Boucher on the more recent visuals.

Back on Feb. 21, before COVID-19 shut the world down, before the killing of George Floyd by police sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the globe, Grimes (a.k.a. Claire Boucher, a.k.a. just "c") released the follow-up to 2015's Art Angels, the fittingly futurist, dystopian Miss Anthropocene. Recently, we caught up with the "IDORU" singer to talk about the album, the chaos of 2020 and motherhood. She also gets real about her best friend and frequent collaborator HANA, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's "WAP" and her interest in more humane technology.

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So how have you been doing during quarantine, especially as a new parent?

It started really shitty because one of my best friends actually passed away on the first day of quarantine. And then I had to go right into having a baby. She passed away in a pregnancy-related issue so it was four months of not good, the least productive I've ever been. It was basically terrible until about a month ago. But yeah, I feel like a lot of people are on this path. I mean, granted, the whole is a shitshow and terrible and I'm really worried about everybody. And that's the other thing: I feel like it's getting worse and worse on the outside, so I don't know. Wait, maybe I'm getting too dark. Positive. Anyway.

No, you're fine. You can be real.

I have PTSD from being terrible in interviews. So please excuse me for constantly second-guessing myself. But yeah, I'm not really sure what to do, especially with being Canadian, because I feel I should have a vote in your election and I can't even say much about it. I didn't realize I'm not even allowed to donate to candidates and stuff. So it's a whole thing where I feel weirdly helpless about it. I feel American in my vibe and energy, and all my friends and family are American. But yeah, it's a weird situation. There is actually a lot of stuff to do, it's just not directly political stuff.

It's an interesting point you made, that things seem like they keep getting worse. I think it gets to place where we have to focus in on ourselves because at the end of the day, some shit's always going to be crazy. When we're able to be like, "Well, what can I do to take care of myself?" or, "What can I do to deal with what's feeling crazy for me?" it makes it seem more manageable. I'm sure that having another human to take care of adds a different layer to that.

Another human kind of helps. Although I disagree that it's unfixable or whatever. But when I look at it, another human is nice because it's very hard to go on social media when there's a baby. It's just hard. When are you going to do it? And then when you're not dealing with the baby, you're like, "Okay, I've got to do something actually useful." The baby caused me to not be on social media and I am very grateful for that.

Regarding society though, which I feel like the craziness of the moment is that the internet is forcing us to become a single unit. I was reading this thing about how the internet forcing us to become a single unit is basically forcing everyone to acknowledge everyone else's suffering at the same time. And even though it sucks so much, I feel like this is the only way to actually fix human suffering. And I also feel like we're at this weird junction in society where we're getting to a place where we can technologically have the ability to destroy civilization and destroy humanity—crazy. But we also have the ability to, theoretically, fix humanity. Not 100 percent solve suffering, and I don't know if we even want that. But I do think it's probably possible to an extent to end violence and extreme inequality.

And so, I feel like it just f***ing hurts, because we're in this moment where it's no longer possible to ignore those things. If you want to engage with society, you have to engage with suffering. And so, obviously, I feel like in the short term, this is super shitty. And especially anyone who has mental illness or depression or is predisposed to that at all, is having an extra hard time. This is existentially painful.

But at the same time, [maybe we need that] in order to get into, I don't want to say a utopian, but a future where we can just achieve and not be fixing. Right now, because of our own f***-ups, we're still just having to Band-Aid instead of solving physics and colonizing space and solving medical stuff. Instead, we're just still fixing the broken things.

Anyway, I feel like the thing that sucks is that we're becoming a single psychological entity. But that is possibly the thing that can save us, because if we're one thing, people are selfish and people want to fix themselves. And I am seeing people want to fix the world more than I've ever seen. It's what everyone's talking about and what everyone's focused on. So maybe that's a good thing? Sorry that was so long.

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I feel that. The fact that people have to pay attention is big. Also, people need to feel like there's something that they can do. Obviously, not everyone that lives here can vote, but it is something that people are mobilizing around. I haven't seen people this excited for an election other than for Obama in 2008. So that's definitely something.

The other thing I keep seeing helplessness. But it's like, man, we're talking through the internet through space and time. And if we wanted to, we could video chat. We can kind of accomplish whatever we want. It seems normal, because we're stuck in this world. But that's all really new shit. And that's like magic. I feel like we can frigging solve things.

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The themes and aesthetic of Miss Anthropocene feel so reflective of the chaos of 2020, it's wild that you released it in February. Do you feel like the album and its themes offer any messages of how we can prevent the demise of humanity?

I was trying to be provocative at the time I made the album. Because I made it a lot more in 2018, 2019. When I started making it, I was still like, "Why don't we care about the environment?" And in time since I made it and released it, the world totally changed. And even though I'm really proud of it and I think it's great, I feel like it is not the time to be provocative and trollish. That ended kind of almost before the album came out. It feels insensitive now.

I still actually like it. When I think about the anthropomorphic goddess of climate change and the anthropomorphic goddess of addiction, those things are compelling to me. I even kind of get anxiety talking about it. To myself, I feel like I made something effective, but I get why people found it to be kind of cruel now. But that's art. It goes back and forth.

Sauron sucks and gives me anxiety too, but I don't think Lord of the Rings was problematic, but some people might say it is. I don't know. I'm talking in circles again. Maybe that's the point. [Laughs.] They should not let me do interviews. I'm really bad at interviews.

Sometimes I feel like the most awkward interviewer. I'll ask a question and I'll giggle.

The giggling is good. When people are monotone and so bored with you, you're just like, "Oh, god. I'm sorry I'm keeping you from going home."

Also if it's more of a normal interviewer thing, you're kind of repeating the same thing. You feel like kind of like a phony. I'm always like, "Uh-oh. This question again." And then I'm like, "Oh, no. If any fans see this, they're going to know I answered this the exact same way. I'm such a fraud." You want to give a genuine answer, but it becomes disingenuous just by being forced to answer the same question again and again. It's a trap no matter what.

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"Violence" is your only song you didn't produce yourself.  What was it like working with i_o on it, and what did it feel like to let go of that specific element of creative control?

I mean, frankly, people need to realize sometimes collaborating is really hard. But when it's easy, it is incredible. There are no drugs that are like sitting in a room with someone when you're on the same page creatively. And it's your art. I've always been like, "Oh, the art high, the art high." When you make something good and the night after, you close the computer and you're like, "I made a good thing," it's literally the best feeling in the world. And when you're working with someone else, it feels like it's double.

I'm very conflicted right now, because for political reasons and reasons of self-worth, I want to make stuff on my own. But I'm really vibing creating with other people now. With i_o, he sent me stuff and I just wrote a vocal over it. By the way, "Violence" only took about an hour to make. I was like, "Oh my god. Why am I spending tons of hours making songs when it should really just take an hour?"

"Violence" sort of broke the barrier, because I had done so little collaboration before that. Well, "We Appreciate Power" was actually very fun. It was with my best friend [HANA], so it was much easier. It was almost like having a sleepover and writing it. It was not like a work situation.

That's super cool. I'm always really interested in collaboration and the process of it because, like you said, sometimes it's easier than others.

I feel like I'm starting again, because I've always made music by myself and I feel like 19 again. It feels like the first time I first started making music all over again. The human brain is a very amazing thing. And when you can find a brain that works with yours, it's better than any tool. It's also very hard to find. Maybe that's some argument for humans getting along.

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When "We Appreciate Power" came out [in November 2018], I had it on repeat an embarrassing amount. When I learned what it was about, I'm like, "Oh, wow. This AI propaganda totally would work."

Here's the funny thing. It is now this so less-controversial "WAP," which I find so funny. When we made "We Appreciate Power," I was like "WAP" is such a random title. No one will ever make a song title like this. And this will definitely own this title forever. And then Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion came out with their "WAP" And I'm like, "Damn, they actually defeated us with making the more controversial song with this absurd title." Our "WAP" has been owned.

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What did you think about the backlash that Cardi and Megan got for literally singing about their p*ssies, when other people sing about p*ssies all the time?

I actually didn't notice the backlash for about a week because, as I said, I haven't been online. So, I didn't watch the music video and I didn't even know the title. I thought it was "Wet and Gushy," or whatever. I had no idea what was going on. And then, my manager said something later and I was like, "What? Cardi B's in trouble for the song?" And [when I learned about it], I was like, "Oh, wow. This is kind of crazy." I'm still surprised it was so controversial, but then that just proves that I'm in sort of in a bubble, I guess.

I've been thinking about this in general, going through being pregnant, no one understands what's going on at all. And you're super unprepared for it. Sex ed is not comprehensive enough at all. And our society does really need to work on—I feel like everyone's way overusing the word "normalized"—normalizing [laughs] women's bodies because it's a huge problem.

"I'm a producer. My war zone is mostly a men's war zone. I get in the ring with the boys. And that seems easy compared to having a baby. I was shocked by how hard it was. I thought I was so tough."

It's so true. I feel like that is such like a valid parallel to the fact that women singing about their body parts is still found offensive. And I haven't had a child or been pregnant, but I've heard conversations around women feeling like they can't talk about the difficulties of being a mother or being pregnant. It's supposed to be like, "Pregnancy is beautiful!" I'm sure it's both, but I wish there more spaces for these conversations.

Yeah. I'll say this. I'm a producer. My war zone is mostly a men's war zone. I get in the ring with the boys. And that seems easy compared to having a baby. I was shocked by how hard it was. I thought I was so tough. It's almost the indignity of it and all the things that go along with it and just being so volatile. There were numerous meetings where I would puke. I was puking all the time. It was really humiliating.

And people are like, "Oh, yeah, morning sickness, well it's like 12 weeks, three months." If you were vomiting constantly for three months in any other kind of illness, it would be really serious. But it's not even considered. It's like, "Oh, yeah. Whatever. It's only a couple of months of puking many times a day." It's like, whoa. That's not even the hard part. That's the beginning. And then you kind of feel like a teenager. Teenagers are grumpy and crazy because of their hormones. Pregnant women are literally going through the same thing but they're supposed to act normal and stuff.

And then f***ing having the actual baby—if I didn't have nannies, babies are literally 24 hours. Being a stay-at-home mom with no help, or especially a single mom, is significantly harder. It's extreme sleep deprivation. As a society, it's possibly the hardest job, and it's not even a paid job. We devalue it and we expect it to be free labor. And the fact that we expect to be free labor gets women into situations where they have no financial freedom and if it's abusive or something they're just stuck.

I mean, other countries at least offer several months of paid maternity leave, and in Sweden [and many other countries] both parents get leave. The U.S. is the only—I hate this word—"developed" country that doesn't have mandatory maternity leave. It totally is devaluing, like you said, the actual labor and time that goes into it.

Yeah. I mean, I guess that's a very capitalistic viewpoint. So people could take issue with that. But I just feel like it's very weird that the hardest job I'm doing is free labor. Before I had my baby, I was always like, "Oh, I don't want to be a stay-at-home mom." And I was sort of rolling my eyes. And I had this bad vibe for stay-at-home moms. I was definitely internalizing misogyny. And now I'm like, "Man, I was such a f*** up. I can't believe no one ever corrected me on that f***ing shitty line of thinking." Being a stay-at-home mom is quite hard, I would say. Maybe it gets easier when they get older.

Long story short, "WAP" is productive towards society. Let's get more used to addressing anatomy.

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How would you describe your creative relationship and friendship with HANA?

Oh, she'll be so mad you called her "Hannah." [Laughs.] It's the bane of her existence. I just feel so bad that she's trapped in this nightmare where everyone calls her Hannah and her real name is HANA. I thought an A that's ah is an imperial A, and I was telling people that for years. It turns out that was from a dream and that's not a real terminology. But it sounds real. So, it's HANA with an imperial A. And I'm coining that term, because it sounds right.

Anyway, she's great. I feel like HANA taught me about feminine energy or something. I did not have a lot of girlfriends previous to her. And going on tour with someone is kind of like being married to them. We toured for like three years or something.

HANA's underrated. Check out her latest release, HANADRIEL. It's great, and she produced on Twitch, which I thought was a really cool idea. She livestreamed her album creation on Twitch, which I would not be able to do that. And I think people were able to comment as well and stuff.

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What's it like working with your brother Mac? Because you've worked together on pretty much all of your music videos, correct?

To an extent, more or less. The early stuff I did more on my own. I feel like I started working with him because he's probably the best working partner I've ever had. The one thing I think we would say is, don't judge the Miss Anthropocene music videos, because I was pregnant during them. The reason they're less crazy is because I couldn't be throwing my body around for 16 hours straight when I was super pregnant. So we feel slightly self-conscious. Please do not judge either of us.

I'm not talking shit, but it's just they're obviously single scene. They're just very, very simple comparatively to what we normally do. And that's just because what we normally do is not good for your body. Also, it's been Mac and I this whole time and it's just not big budget. So usually, we literally take the whole workload on ourselves. We color. We edit. We do post-production. Literally, when it's animation or something, it's like me and Mac literally doing it ourselves. I mean, we're excited to get to the next phase too though, because ideally, we can access bigger budgets in the future. And Mac's also been learning how to do CGI literally on his own. He probably never talks about this though. He's kind of like a private dude and doesn't want to be too discussed.

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I really like the "Violence" music video. It feels sort of like the opening credits from a movie where you're getting the vibe of it and wondering who the characters are. It definitely drew me in.

I feel like even though that video is simple, it's like one of the best performances I've ever done in a weird way. I mean, the thing with "Violence" is we were like, "F*** hiring random people. We're just going to hire our friends." The stylists and dancers were friends. My brother's girlfriend is one of the dancers. HANA's there [as the "nude corpse"]. Another friend of mine was helping with the styling and ideas. I'd rather sacrifice some physical proficiencies for an incredibly good vibe on set, because performance-wise it's like you're in front of a bunch of random people you don't know who are bored, versus being with all your friends, cheering and doing stuff. It makes a huge difference. Our roommate did the hair. And we wore masks, which seemed weird that was before the pandemic.

But I thought really, what would modern gods look like? All religion is referencing pre-technological existence. And if you just go by logic, if intelligent design is real, which is not out of the question, if we're either in a simulation or if there are gods in any capacity, they have technology. You know what I mean? There's a law [from scientist/science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke] that says, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." And my inverse law is any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology. Let's say, we're in a Matrix situation, it's possible that everything condescends this extremely advanced technology. I mean, it kind of is biological technology if you just go on baseline level that life spontaneously occurred and the Big Bang happened.

But man, I just love the idea of there being teenage gods with cell phones who are bitchy. And this gods isplastic and she just looks amazing and she's got this crazy style and she's got this CGI all around her. Just why isn't there more kind of pursuance of this sort of idea?

Can you talk a little bit about your well, now, virtual art exhibit that you were planning with Michele Maccarone?

Most of the art exhibit has to be real. The thing that's online is just kind of my random art. I don't want to downplay it, it's stuff we've been making. But we have the whole installation and everything that took a really long time. We created these AI meditations where we send a bunch of meditative texts to this generative AI. If you feed an AI stuff, it starts making things, so it was making these meditations for us. Then we started making crazy meditations. We started feeding it dialogues from video games, for video game addiction meditations. And we fed it Kim Kardashian's Instagram feed, and it was making this weird kind of corporate poetry that was amazing. That kind of has to be experienced in real life. So the art installation is kind of in limbo until COVID is over, I suppose. But it's these AI meditations. I'm really interested in spiritual technology.

Okay, yeah, one thing I really want to talk about, coming back to the state of society and civilization and mental health right now. I'm really getting into pursuing humane technology. Why is technology so inhumane? Technology has not factored in human conditions, like human emotions, like the way our biology works, our cortisol, adrenaline and all this stuff. It's almost like a drug. It's sort of abusing our system to just make us addicted.

You should look up the Center for Humane Technology [who recently released the film Social Dilemma on Netflix]. There's all these charities and philosophies and stuff that are starting to pop up around making technology safer for the human brain, and trying to find ways to make it better for us, or whatever. The AI meditations sort of led me into that realm of philosophy. The meditations are kind of scary. They're not meditative, which is part of what's so interesting about them. We need to stop and consider how it's writing all this content that is beautiful and amazing but also scary and aggressive. Even though it's been fed all this information about meditation, it's unable to internalize what meditation is.

As a culture, we need to start getting more used to and more aware of technology safety. And by safety, I don't just mean, are you going to overdose and die? But are you giving yourself a serious mental condition? Are you getting infused with Nazi ideas? Are you growing to hate your neighbor? How do we stop those tendencies? I mean, fight-or-flight response is a powerful response. And most technology right now is giving us heroin and pulling us into darkness.

"I feel like we're at a crossroads right now where at least it might be possible to eliminate physical violence from our species. That's what enlightenment kind of entails."

What does a Grimes utopia look like?

Do know the writer Iain Banks? He's this obscure writer, for some reason. His books are kind of hard to read I guess, maybe they're just too dense. He wrote these books called the "Culture" series. And there's this book specifically, Surface Detail. I would argue that it's not a utopia, but it's edging towards a utopia. AI is this God, and saying conscious beings are existing with technology in a way that seems like there's mega structures in space for when there are no planets. It's like consciousness has been preserved and it is not in a dark and evil way.

When you look in the universe, there might not be any other consciousness, we might be the only thinking creatures. And right now, consciousness is under threat, obviously. Civilization is under threat. I mean, the ideal goal, I think about 10,000 years from now, [is that] consciousness is preserved and existence for those beings is happy. And it's not painless, because that seems like it could lead us through just nothingness. But overall, there's not massive suffering happening.

I feel like that involves a massive sort of philosophical and cultural overhaul. I'm not sure what that looks like. But obviously, reducing unnecessary violence. Physical violence should be unnecessary. I feel like we're at a crossroads right now where at least it might be possible to eliminate physical violence from our species. That's what enlightenment kind of entails. We get to a position where every child is educated in such a way where if they have violent tendencies, there's the ability to overcome those things and there's support systems get to a place where we can reduce that as much as possible.

And that's kind of the discussion of this moment in some ways right now. I feel like physical violence also includes not having enough food or not having adequate shelter and stuff. If we can get to a place where maybe there's still competition in a mental way—I haven't thought this through enough. But I feel like—I hope—utopia is achievable. I think a non-violent society is possibly achievable.

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