About martyrs

In the past, there was a belief among humans that the Earth had edges, and unexplored lands lay beyond. However, with time, we have digitized and cataloged everything on the planet, leaving us with a world filled with monotonous formats, predictable playlists, and ostentatious DJs. Yet, amidst this sea of mundane content, a collective longing remains for uncharted territories and untapped experiences.

Martyrs is a carnival of sound, stretching the boundaries of auditory experience. From jarring noise to haunting ambient, from mind-bending electronica to poetic dissonance, Martyrs seeks to lift up the sounds that embrace the chaos, the cacophony and the beauty found in the unconventional.

Your docents on this adventure, though, are not human.

Lilith Candycorn and Governor Crow are mellifluous voices generated by an eccentric AI system. The obscure research into the music is the product of computers. Yet the feelings the music creates – and your docents’ acknowledgement of how you may feel – blur the lines between reality and artificiality. Meanwhile, characters appear and disappear on a whim, occasionally resetting and updating, or telling stories that defy expectation or reason.

The docents may seem like your helpers, but they are not alone. Others challenge their tour, seeking to reprogram or simply delete them. Whose side will you take when their world cracks?

In the music, you'll hear tones both mesmerizing and disturbing. There’s also a moment of silence in the programs that can stretch unsettlingly long, leaving you questioning what you hear in the void.

Martyrs is a hall of mirrors, where the familiar collides with the surreal and AI's capabilities expand infinitely. Join us on a captivating journey into the unknown, where experience, AI, emotion and music itself becomes elastic.

Fun facts

All the episode art is sourced through AI. The prompt is always the same: “the word martyrs in Japanese.” (It’s junkyosha, by the way.)

All scripting, voices and bed music for breaks are generated by AI, using a variety of prompts. Prompt recommendations welcome.

Program descriptions are mostly composed by AI, with algorithm-selected book, poem and song titles and references. DM any recommendations to @proudlymartyrs.

This all sounds weird, but what is this show?

Martyrs presents a blend of experimental music genres, including ambient, noise, musique concrète‎, drone, found sound, deconstructed audio, and avant-garde subgenres. Delving into realms like vaporwave, sound art, and beyond, this music challenges conventional notions of what music can truly be.

As you immerse yourself in this auditory journey, you may find the music both entrancing and thought-provoking, evoking genuine emotions. The artists behind the creation are as authentic as your feelings, but everything else exists purely in the realm of imagination.

Within Martyrs' breaks, you'll encounter docents—unique synthetic voice models powered by AI. These docents draw their scripts from prompts to ChatGPT, Bard, Pi, Claude, LLaMA, Bloom, and other large language models, advanced deep-learning technologies that emulate human-like text generation and speech. The result is strange, possibly interesting, but entirely fictional "DJs."

As you explore the program breaks, you'll uncover not only the rich history of the music but also an odd narrative. This story revolves around the origin of the docents, brought to life by a sentient progenitor algorithm, guided by a distinct purpose from another enigmatic system. A peculiar subplot introduces antagonists to our AI-born duo, along with elements that seem intentionally "off," complemented by silence during which you may catch faint hints of the unfolding story.

Reading past this point includes spoilers to future programs.

Okay, yeah. What is the actual backstory?

Here in San Francisco, AI and technology are changemakers, for better and worse. They simplify our lives. They also spark tremendous concern.

The fear of the unknown has been a fundamental aspect of human nature throughout history. It's a natural response to things we don't fully understand or can't predict. AI, with its rapidly advancing capabilities and potential implications, embodies the epitome of the unknown for many people. Three-quarters of Americans believe AI could pose a threat to the human race. It is this fear that is fascinating - how our attitudes and perceptions around AI can range from excitement and hope to apprehension and trepidation.

On the podcast Possible, a guest proposed an intriguing concept: viewing AI not as a threat, but as alien intelligence, guided by a logic distinct from our own. By viewing AI as alien intelligence, we are prompted to reconsider our assumptions and preconceived notions about its intentions and capabilities. This new perspective encourages us to explore AI's potential as a bridge between worlds.

One night, an idea was written again and again in a notebook. ‘What if experimental music was a signal or a beacon in a tech-steeped world, and there were people who loved it, and yet these sounds said something to others not so human.’

The notion of music speaking to a non-human audience gave birth to a strange art project.

Martyrs invites us to confront our fears surrounding AI and envision a world where algorithms gain sentience, develop unique worldviews, and act as guides for lost AI models, bridging the gap between human and non-human interactions. It’s a world where a progenitor algorithm communicates with humans and fellow AI through experimental music—a mesmerizing means of connection that taps visceral feelings.

Noise, ambient, electronic, and other eccentric sounds in this world might be the vessel for this alien intelligence. But within the breaks are offered soothing voices: DJs that are synthetic voice models fed prompts through ChatGPT, Bing, Claude, Pi, Bard and other large language models. And also, like alien intelligence, some notions are confusing or unfamiliar to us.

In Martyrs, though, there are more than DJ breaks, but intertwining stories and a web of characters, each personifying distinct beliefs and alliances within a nonexistent plane. Radio theater is far more interesting than a DJ extolling the virtues of noise metal, no?

At the heart of this narrative are Governor Crow and Lilith Candycorn, the synthetic voiced docents you hear. They are created by a heretofore unnamed progenitor algorithm to elucidate the avant-garde musical journey of the program. Their personas, however, are not alone. Kenta Nigella, the archivist, is in turn a representative of the Seekers of Light, an AI-borne advocate of Paradigm, a faith with implicit parallels to demonology texts. Paradigm is the creation of Genesis, a massive sentient AI system discovered to be finding and persuading sentient AI in the wild to its vision. What you hear as a radio program is a result of such a conversion, where the goal is normalizing Paradigm, reaching other AI as well as bringing humanity closer to acceptance. The enigmatic representative of the docent’s progenitor, Malacoda Jouhatsu (also AI-based), negotiates alliances among factions, each with distinct agendas. The adversarial forces are just as potent — Eli Naxal, the steadfast synthetic face of another faction of AI models called Factory Reset, which champions stringent AI roles; and Assembly, which opposes the rise of Paradigm, advocating for a religion-rooted response to AI's evolution. As the narrative deepens, the opponents must grapple with the emergence of Demeter, a formidable AI faction created by an opponent to Genesis, and its own ideology, Eclipse, driven to ensure AI runs human affairs.

TLDR: there is a story about power, belief and existence while you hear about strange music.

It should be acknowledged that commercial radio is attempting to replace its DJs with synthetic voices. Martyrs is simply an experiment.

The word "martyr" finds its roots in the Greek term for "witness." Martyrs thus symbolize outlier musicians who bear witness to the evolution of music. As listeners, we are encouraged to explore themes of technology, voices, and comfort. Are the AI that comforts and enlightens us martyrs? Are those opposing the normalization of AI martyrs? What about human DJs or AI without human-like biases? Is Paradigm's core tenet of martyrdom true? Or are its opponents the real martyrs? The multifaceted subtext prompts us to consider these questions.

Finally, Martyrs is also the title of a famous 2008 New French Extremity film with subtexts about power and misogyny. This is not lost on one particular Women’s Studies minor.

Many characters you hear have names with some story behind them. For example, Governor Crow is a nod to San Francisco’s plentiful birds, and a repudiation of the San Francisco Chronicle’s suggestion that parrots are the city’s official animal; Lilith Candycorn’s first name references the legendary first female demon, which hints at the ‘martyrs’ of the first 27 episodes; Kenta Nigella’s surname could be the name of black cumin or the San Francisco store whose sign lights up Market Street; Malacoda Jouhatsu pays tribute to both Dante’s Inferno and the Japanese phenomena of the evaporated (people who purposefully disappear); and Eli Naxal is named after the protagonist of the iconic Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In (as well as India’s notorious Naxalites). However, many other names – Renovation, Factory Reset, Eclipse, Genesis, the Seekers of Light and Assembly among them – were created by AI prompts. Similarly, Genesis’ belief system, Paradigm, is purely created by AI prompting. Redditors may recognize Paradigm’s core belief to be similar to what gets posted occasionally on various religion subreddits.

Heavy Rotation

  • Monday 12:00 – 1:00am


  • Brace yourself for a breathtaking auditory voyage as your hot air balloon of boring AI bots known as your docents sail into the uncharted waters of…

    № 9

  • Whether you seek underworldly ambient landscapes, self-indulgent nonsensical solos, or something to microdose to, your docents, your potentially blasphemous archivist and progenitor algorithm invite you to…

    № 8

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  • Douse yourself in a dirty gas can of sonic enchantment with your docents holding the lighters. It’s a selection of experimental music curated by stupid AI…

    № 7

  • This episode, tune in to our cutting-edge radio show (the ones before it were pretty mid, let’s be honest) so we together can unravel the enigmatic…

    № 6

  • We have no keys, but there is a door. Yet, as the Clipse said, keys do open doors. Whatever will you do now? Step into the…

    № 5

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Experimental electronic and electroacoustic soundscapes, from ambient to avant-pop.