Two weeks ago, renowned model and actress Emily Ratajkowski published a poignant, eye-opening essay via The Cut. The piece, entitled ‘Buying Myself Back – When does a model own her own image?’, gave first-hand insight into how images of her were published, manipulated and displayed without her approval (or often awareness at all), and explored the troubling – and all too common – reality of losing control over your own public identity. Immediately resonating with women worldwide, Ratajkowski’s essay quickly became an important narrative on image and consent, starting a discussion that brought light to issues many fear to openly discuss.
Following in a similarly bold and insightful pursuit, Hackney-based trio deep tan return today with brand new single ‘deepfake’, a hauntingly hypnotic song that confronts the threatening phenomenon of deepfaking. Deepfakes are “synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness” (if you’re not sure you’ve seen a deepfake in action before, just head to Youtube, where you’ll find hundreds of eerie image-imposed videos). A recent report found that 96% of deepfakes involve simulating porn of female celebrities – without their consent.
‘deepfake’ is a palpably ominous song. In characteristic style, twangly guitar riffs decorate the tense and darkened sounds of the rhythm section, whilst Wafah’s fragmentary lyricism announces “mon corps n’est plus à moi” (my body isn’t mine anymore) with brooding melancholy. The lack of dramatic dynamics ensures that the song encapsulates the essence of unconsented image manipulation with precision – it’s secretive, constructed in the quietened shadows of absent morality. Paired with an intensely creepy video, ‘deepfake’ provides a vivid portal into an unsettling, dangerous – and terrifyingly accessible – world. It’s clear to see that with this fourth release, deep tan have announced themselves as conversation leading artists – complete with a perfectly sculpted, Siouxsie-reminiscent sound.
What inspired you to write lyrics about and confront the issue of deepfakes in this song?
At the time we were writing the track, our friend Jessica Winter had just found out that a deepfake porn video of her surfaced on the internet. It was a really strange moment and a very 21st century issue we want to highlight.
The song’s video is quite disconcerting, and really captures the threat of deepfake footage. What were your aims with the video’s storyline in terms of what you wanted to suggest?
The video’s strange and surreal, and was made to reflect a phenomenon that’s just as strange and surreal. Ultimately the track is about the nature of consent: by putting ourselves in the frame as deepfakes, we’re willing participants, but we could just as easily not be. Technology’s at a level now where anyone with a computer (or phone) and some intiative could make a deepfake of anyone, which in this disinformation age is a pretty terrifying prospect.
Do you think a similar misuse of women’s imagery/ presentation is prevalent in the music industry, and if so, how?
A lot of things have changed for the better in recent years where visual representations of women in music are concerned. If you look at videos from the 90s, the fact that so many of them have ‘aged badly’ (in other words, are proablematic as fuck) at least tells us that we’re making cultural progress. But new technologies, like deepfakes, bring with them new sets of issues that need to be collectively addressed. Let’s talk about it.
deep tan’s new single ‘deepfake’ is out today (1st October) via Practise Music
Words by Ciara Bains Photography by Amia Ocean