OK Go to Transform Their Newest Album Into DNA
OK Go’s theatrical and innovative music videos and live performances are nearly as recognizable as their catchy brand of power-pop. So while the news that they will be transforming their latest album into DNA may raise a few eyebrows -- or furrow them in confusion -- it also comes as less of a surprise from this creative foursome.
In 2012 when biologist Sri Kosuri translated a book into DNA, OK Go frontman Damian Kulash immediately knew he wanted to do the same with their next album. “As soon as I heard that they could do this with a book, I went, ‘This is how we’re putting out our next album,’” he told the New Yorker.
OK Go released that album, ‘Hungry Ghosts,’ in mid-October in all of the typical mediums: MP3, CD and vinyl. However, toward the end of the year, OK Go will release the new record on DNA.
Kulash visited some biologists to figure out just how to translate music into DNA. They told the OK Go singer that DNA is essentially a string of information made up of As, Cs, Ts and Gs. MP3s and other digital files are codes made up of zeroes and ones. Fortunately, biologists know how to translate one code into the other.
Fans looking to pick up OK Go's latest album as DNA would theoretically receive a vial holding some drops of water. In that water would be a few nanograms of the 'Hungry Ghosts' DNA.
Another biologist, Harris Wang, showed Kulash how it’s done, including the process of heating and colling the DNA so it can be replicated. “It’s an exponential amplification. If you run it fifteen times, you get into the millions of copies,” Wang told the singer. “At this point, you would send the sample off to be sequenced, and it would come back as a readout -- A, G, C, G. That’s your code, and you then convert that into a song.”
“That’s so f--king cool,” Kulash responded. “So, if we sell just one or two water droplets, we’ll have the highest-selling album of all time.”
Of course, transferring the ‘Hungry Ghosts’ DNA to buyers will be easier said than done. “Legally speaking, it’s unclear whether we will be able to sell the DNA to anyone, or how we would physically get it to them,” Kulash said. “This stuff is regulated really f--king heavily.”
“Obviously, it’s an artistic gesture and a scientific project, not the most efficient way to actually buy our album,” the singer said.
In the meantime, you can listen to OK Go by way of good-old fashioned sound waves by catching them live -- they’re on tour now.
Exclusive: OK Go Play 'Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?'