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Former Toronto DJ returns to electronic music via artificial intelligence

Toronto’s Neel Lee Chauhan was in his early 20s when he left behind his DJ career playing electronic dance music. Chauhan, who was a regular guest DJ on MuchMusic’s Electric Circus in the mid-’90s among other things, left the industry to get his masters in technology and business at the London School of Economics.

Mid-'90s Toronto EDM DJ Neel Lee Chauhan has returned to the music scene courtesy of artificial intelligence. PHOTO BY DAVID STEELE /Handout

But now Chauhan, 48, a long-time tech executive — his day job is Chief Product Officer at Iris Software — is back with a new company MNDLB5 (pronounced mind labs) which has released six new electronic dance music (EDM) tracks that use artificial intelligence.

“We take vocals and we take the voice print of different artists and then we do duets,” said Chauhan, who has worked for the past 20 years in New York City while living in the New Jersey suburbs of Short Hills.

“So a track we did called Toxic Lab Mix has Ricki Ayela, who’s a Canadian vocalist, and then we’d do a duet with her and an AI algorithm. It’s sort of a male voice but it’s an AI-generated male voice. We do text to voice. So we’ll write the lyrics for a track and have an algorithm sing that track. And we also use AI to add sound effects. Toxic Lab Mix hit No. 12 on the German EDM charts in February. It was quite a rapid and unexpected climb. We’d only been releasing music for six months.”

Inspiring Chauhan’s return to music were his two young boys, who are also DJs and producers who go by the stage names Evan C, 10, and EC^2, 8. They would listen to EDM tunes in preparation for sporting events.

All three co-founded MNDLB5 a year ago.

“I noticed with my boys, (when) they were listening to EDM music, they performed better in hockey — they both played for the Junior Devils in New Jersey,” said Chauhan, who’s also on the Board of Governors of his undergrad alma mater, Toronto Metropolitan University.

“I consistently noticed when they played their favourite tracks, they were more focused, more engaged and they all around performed better, skated faster, better shot accuracy.”

The boys’ AI enhanced vocals can also be heard on the song Jump Lab Mix, with MNDLB5’s lead producer and engineer being American Andrew Hogarth.

“I think the emerging AI technologies are enabling new ways to produce music so they’re improving the process,” said Chauhan, who gets back to Toronto almost monthly to see family and work with the TMU board.

“So I think it’s also making the process faster and I also think there’s a creative element to it as well that using artificial intelligence is enabling new sounds and new voices that wouldn’t have been possible without it. I would sum it up as an evolution rather than a revolution. I would consider us an early adopter in terms of leveraging AI across all of our tracks.”

To listen to MNDLB5’s new music visit Spotify.


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