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LIFEFORMS: Empowering artists through innovative technologies

DJ and producer Tim Engelhardt and scientist-producer Dr. Nicolas Pinto have joined forces to establish LIFEFORMS, an innovative music label that empowers artists through the integration of cutting-edge technologies.

Photo credit: Tim Engelhardt – Official

LIFEFORMS provides a platform for artists to unleash their creativity and craft their own music using modern tools. The label embraces technology while maintaining a deep appreciation for the soulful and original nature of music. With guidance and resources such as AI and blockchain technology, the new imprint supports artists on their journey of self-expression and exploration.

Renowned for the GenAI NFT launch, Dr. Nicolas Pinto strongly believes in the seamless integration of music and technology. At LIFEFORMS, artists are given opportunities to create music and learn how to effectively use innovative tools.

Both Tim Engelhardt and Nicolas Pinto are excited about the launch of LIFEFORMS, which serves as a dynamic platform for new music, collaboration, and the nurturing of emerging artists.

The first release on LIFEFORMS is ‘Wide Awake’ by Tim Engelhardt featuring Jyll. This record not only showcases his exceptional artistic talent but also sets the tone for the label’s unique sound.

EG had the privilege of interviewing Tim Engelhardt and Nicolas Pinto to explore the world of LIFEFORMS and Tim’s ‘Wide Awake’ single.

EG: Hi, Tim and Nico! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How have you been? Where are you right now?

Tim Engelhardt: Thanks for having us. I just arrived back home in Germany from a great tour in India.

Nicolas Pinto: The pleasure is all ours. Doing well here, busy, but good! Currently in the (in)famous Silicon Valley with my three young kids and my wife.

EG: Congratulations on the launch of your new imprint, LIFEFORMS! You must be very excited to share this project with the world. What has the initial reception been like so far?

Tim Engelhardt: Thank you! So far, we’ve been receiving amazing feedback on the name, the vision behind it, and the music we’re planning to release in the next few months.

Nicolas Pinto: The experience has been incredibly exciting. The response to both our music and our story, as well as to the purpose of our platform, has been overwhelmingly positive. There have been interesting questions, particularly regarding the technologies we are using, such as AI and blockchain. We have also had very fruitful discussions with people who have raised valid concerns about the current state of these technologies, often influenced by exaggerated portrayals of these issues in some media outlets. We have been pleased to address these in constructive discussions.

EG: LIFEFORMS is a collaborative initiative between Tim Engelhardt and US-based French scientist and producer Dr. Nicolas Pinto. So what sets LIFEFORMS apart from other labels?

Tim Engelhardt: Simply put – we are running LIFEFORMS with love, supporting artists that we believe are promising and are genuinely trying to empower them. In our upcoming releases, you’ll see that the music and all other aspects we’re planning are truly unique, and the tools we’re using to create them are also quite special.

Nicolas Pinto: Our label’s distinctiveness is our DNA—one of us is deeply involved in music, and the other in technology, while being genuinely interested and knowledgeable in each other’s craft. While being unique is important, we also want to be collaborative and constructive members in the music label ecosystem, which is why the name LIFEFORMS was such a perfect fit.

EG: How did your relationship come about? What is it that you seek to materialize through LIFEFORMS?

Tim Engelhardt: Nico and I met online during the pandemic. While I was offering production help via Patreon, we quickly connected on music, tech, and other concepts. We found shared interests in many things and exchanged ideas until we decided to turn some of these ideas into a reality. It became clear to us that running a label together could be a great way to combine both our fields, support artists, and add value to the scene.

Nicolas Pinto: Tim and I connected during the pandemic when I returned to music production after quite a long break, almost two decades. I needed guidance to improve my mixes, so I joined Tim’s Patreon campaign, where he shared his knowledge. Since I admired his music and wanted to support him while he couldn’t tour, it turned out to be a great match.

Our sessions together quickly went beyond music. We became friends. Tim was passionate about technology, especially AI and blockchain, and since I was also deeply involved in these areas, we started discussing how they could intersect with the music industry.

Tim had always wanted to start a music label, and our talks naturally led to this idea. I love building things and fostering talent wherever I can, so I saw an opportunity to contribute, and here we are.

“We are running LIFEFORMS with love, supporting artists that we believe are promising and are genuinely trying to empower them”

EG: Now you’re behind the drop of LIFEFORMS’ first release, ‘Wide Awake’, which sees you linking up with German singer-songwriter Jyll. What’s ‘Wide Awake’ all about? Is there an emotional trigger or concept to this one?

Tim Engelhardt: ‘Wide Awake’ started as a very simple jam that I sent over to Jyll at the beginning of 2021, and she recorded the vocals that are now on the final record over it. Initially, the instrumental sounded nothing like the finished product, and none of the indie vibe that it now has was there in the very beginning. Her vocal performance really sparked something special in me, and I felt compelled to rebuild the instrumental again around her phenomenal, emotional vocal take. Almost two years later, I finally had the finished version of ‘Wide Awake’.

Nicolas Pinto: I absolutely love the song. This release showcases Tim’s diverse talents, surprising his audience and perfectly aligning with LIFEFORMS’ mission of breaking boundaries. The title alone, ‘Wide Awake,’ signifies our alertness and readiness to fully dive into this new venture.

The EP mirrors LIFEFORMS’ journey seen through different lenses, capturing the struggle of tough times like the pandemic and the birth of this new label project. The music features a captivating melody and a strong rhythm, truly embodying the energy and essence of our collaborative venture. Jyll’s lyrics echo a universal longing for freedom, a powerful call for liberation, release, and survival. Everything about it just feels right. I’m very thankful that Tim suggested this track for our first release, as it could certainly have been on another famous label instead.

EG: What kind of music can we expect from LIFEFORMS in the future? Will there be a way to send demos?

Tim Engelhardt: We will release all sorts of electronic music in the future, and we’re not tied to a specific style. That being said, there will be a common thread in all the releases, and we’re very much looking forward to the challenge of maintaining that. One of our goals is to be accessible to upcoming artists, so yes, there will be an easy way to submit demos. We want to be open to young artists and new talents and support their work from an early stage.

Nicolas Pinto: We are working on tools and processes that could facilitate the submission and evaluation of demos in a fair way, but it might take some time for those tools to be ready for prime time. In the meantime, we are open to receiving any music through regular communication channels.

EG: Moving on to current issues, how do you feel about the increasing use of AI in the music industry? What kind of applications do you see for AI in the near future?

Tim Engelhardt: Personally, I’m excited to see what will happen in this field and how AI will assist musicians in the long run. We’re starting to see an explosion of AI-assisted tools for music production, which have honestly made my life so much easier. I’m not worried about the rise of AI, but there might be a shift in perspective when making music. You might be “curating” a lot more than you are “producing,” which is also a great challenge.

Nicolas Pinto: We view technology, including AI and blockchain, as tools designed to empower humans, much like any other tools created for this purpose. Critics express concerns about AI exploiting artists and blockchain being used for speculative purposes. However, the impact of these technologies depends on how we use them. With good intentions, they can empower and elevate us. Responsible guidance is crucial to ensure their positive impact. Similar to other tools, they can be misused, as seen with AI being used unethically to capture attention. Transparency and decentralized technologies offer solutions to this problem. These technologies have the potential to significantly benefit artists, and it’s essential to harness this potential for good.

The original vision behind these technologies aimed to empower individuals, especially those less privileged. Artists, like scientists, create substantial value but often receive little in return. Our goal is to collaborate with technology, creating tools to empower artists and help them capture the value they create directly from their audience, removing friction from third parties.

AI, or ‘IA’ (Intelligence Augmentation) as I like to call it, can enhance an artist’s capabilities. AI simplifies the production process, streamlining tasks that are tedious and time-consuming, allowing artists to stay in their creative flow. Whether it’s composition, sound design, production, or other aspects, AI can assist where inspiration may be lacking. It can also help in the final stages of polishing, mixing, and mastering tracks professionally without hefty costs, enabling artists to compete with high-budget productions.

Blockchain aims to eliminate intermediaries between artists and their audiences, ensuring that artists receive the value they create. By using digital scarcity through NFTs, artists can offer exclusive content, fostering more personal connections and valuable experiences. Emerging artists, in particular, struggle financially, and blockchain can facilitate smoother, timely payments, providing greater stability.

EG: What do you think about the current trend that has seen these larger-than-life visuals take center stage? Are they overwhelming the musical aspect instead of just “enhancing” the musical experience?

Tim Engelhardt: When done right, I think these visuals elevate the experience to the next level, but they can also be easily distracting. The most critical aspect here is not to repeat what others have already done and find your own language that matches the music.

Nicolas Pinto: Of all our senses, our brain’s visual system is the one with the most bandwidth and, thus the most impactful to our perception, behavior, and learning. This is also the reason why social networks went from text (Facebook/Twitter in 2004-2006) to images (Instagram in 2010), to videos (TikTok in 2016). It is important, however, that the music remains the focal point, and abusing visuals, like social media does, may lead to drastic undesirable effects on the quality of the art.

While visuals captivate, their role is not to eclipse but to enhance the musical journey, creating the appropriate immersive experience. We, especially as a label, need to be cautious not to overuse trendy visuals, as they can distract from the essence of the music and potentially overwhelm the audience’s attention, which is a very precious resource no one should abuse.

Even though we think that the over-reliance on visuals as a marketing tactic for social network engagement may have negative consequences, we do understand why it can be perceived as the right strategy if you believe that the music industry should be a zero-sum game, instead of being a positive-sum one.

“Our goal is to collaborate with technology, creating tools to empower artists and help them capture the value they create directly from their audience, removing friction from third parties”

EG: What’s next for LIFEFORMS? What new milestones are you looking forward to now?

Tim Engelhardt: We’re very happy to say we’ve got a couple of great releases lined up for the next few months, and we’re excited to introduce the label to the scene and see the reactions of the public.

Nicolas Pinto: We’re currently working on our next releases: one in December to close the year, and the next few for early 2024. We’re really excited about what’s in the works. While we can’t reveal much right now, we can assure you that there’s a lot of diversity in terms of artists and styles. We’re also doing a lot of R&D for both music production and label operations. Up until now, the tools we’ve been using were developed for and by Tim and me, but we’re thrilled to share drafts of them with the upcoming artists on our label, as well as getting their feedback.

EG: Thank you for your time. We’re excited to see what’s in store for you. Take care!

Tim Engelhardt: Appreciate the opportunity!

Nicolas Pinto: Thank you so much for the opportunity. I’m very grateful for the work you’ve been doing in our industry. Have a beautiful day!

Tim Engelhardt’s ‘Wide Awake’ featuring Jyll is out now via LIFEFORMS. Stream and download here.

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