Davie504, a 21-year-old funk bassist who describes himself as “an italian [sic] guy who wants to share his passion,” doesn’t need any other musicians hanging around when he’s in the mood for a funktacular jam session. All he needs is Google Translate. Or, more specifically, he needs the automated, prerecorded, and surprisingly soulful voice of Google Translate’s text-to-speech feature, which he uses to make percussive-like noises to keep the beat while he plays. It’s an odd concept, to be sure, but a viewing of Davie504’s new video, “Google Translate Meets Bass,” makes it all clear. The young musician first types a few apparent nonsense syllables, like “pv,” “bschk,” and “z,” into Google Translate. When he clicks the speaker icon below the text, Google obliges by making noises that kind of sound like Nine Inch Nails-esque drum hits. When this process is repeated in a rhythmic fashion, it creates a very credible percussion track, over which Davie504 lays down some of that sweet, old-school funk with his bass.
But the musical talents of Google Translate are not yet exhausted. About a minute into this funk jam, Davie504 has Google recite some numbers in a British-accented female voice. Suddenly, this song has lyrics: “Five zero four five! Five zero four four!” In all, Google makes an ideal vocalist and percussionist in this ensemble. It’s never late for rehearsals. It never argues about the creative direction of the band. And, should this endeavor truly take off, it will never ask for a larger share of the profits. Best of all, it can be easily coerced into saying just about anything without objection. What more could an enterprising bass player want?