In “Too Many Tears,” music and AI mix to tell a story

88rising is dedicated to bringing Asian music, art, and culture to US audiences. Their latest project, the never-ending remix of Warren Hue’s “Too Many Tears,” uses AI to draw inspiration from one of the largest Asian American communities in the US.

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.

It’s also the inspiration behind the latest project from 88rising created in collaboration with Microsoft. The installation took 88rising artist Warren Hue’s track “Too Many Tears” and remixed it using AI. The singles from the installation are available on SoundCloud.

To do this, Microsoft Custom Vision AI analyzes a video feed streaming from an overlook above the San Gabriel Valley, and identifies various events in the landscape and skyline that the music track then reacts to 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 the track—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.

An animated GIF of the sun rising over the San Gabriel Valley.
The remix for dawn

During the day, as the sun shines and birds, insects, or clouds appear occasionally, the downtempo track sparkles with musical embellishments, and more vocal interludes from Hue.

An animated GIF of the sun rising over the San Gabriel Valley.
The remix for day

As dusk transitions to night, you’ll hear many more rhythmic elements in the drums and rhyming vocals; bigger synth and guitar lines come out, and the composition really starts to push the beat forward, perhaps signaling that it’s time to dance.

An animated GIF of clouds passing over the San Gabriel Valley at night.
The remix for dusk

These transitions were important to Sean Miyashiro, founder and CEO of 88rising, as well as the larger creative team as a way of offering both meditative and inspiring moments to listeners. It was also important to them that the project visually connect with a place that’s significant to Asian American communities as a way of reflecting on a broader shared experience.

“’Too Many Tears’ is a hip-hop and R&B song that I wrote based on me—with a unique beat and structure—reflecting on myself and my dreams and the reality of how people treat me,” artist Warren Hue reflects on the work.

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, directing its gaze across the landscape and skyline of some of America’s close-knit Asian American communities. The result is a piece that’s a digital manifestation of 88rising’s mission to amplify the voices of Asian and Asian American artists.

”Our mission at 88rising is simple—to create a platform to celebrate Asian creatives around the world,” says Miyashiro. Getting to partner with an innovative technology powerhouse like Microsoft has been such an amazing experience as they have been able to help amplify and champion our current projects on a global scale.”

Experience “Too Many Tears” for yourself.