Liza Bec and the robo-recorder by David Ryder Prangley, 2021

Have you ever wondered what might happen if the delicate connection between your brain and body broke? If you told your hand to move, and instead it jumped? If you told your feet to walk, and instead they danced?

Watch this short original poem from INNERVATE performed live at The Glasshouse International Centre for Music. Read the whole story here: INNERVATE by Liza Bec (EPK)

INNERVATE aims to answer all of these questions and more. An immersive audiovisual experience with accompanying short story, it is based on Liza’s own experience of living with and overcoming music triggered reflex epilepsy. INNERVATE can also be performed live.

Visuals by Dan Tombs/Catalina Velasquez Gonzalez.
INNERVATE’s abstract visuals have passed the Harding test and so meet broadcast standards for viewing by those with photosensitive epilepsy.

Receiving this career-ending diagnosis as a classical clarinettist gave Liza the unexpected chance to learn to play again through improvisation. Working across genres from folk to free jazz they have collaborated with James Holden and The Memory Band amongst others. 

The creation of INNERVATE was funded by Help Musicians UK Fusion Fund.  It features visuals from Dan Tombs (Jon Hopkins/Gold Panda) and graphic design from Catalina Velasquez-Gonzalez.

Liza created their own custom instrument to realise this project, the robo-recorder, in collaboration with renowned electronicist Leafcutter John. Part computer, part tenor recorder, this beast melds with Liza’s ethereal vocals to create melodic soundscapes evoking the spirit of the story. Using custom patches in Max for Live triggered by sound, all of the music was improvised live in one take without using pre-recorded samples or sequencers. INNERVATE can also be performed live with new music improvised afresh each time.

Liza partnered with Epilepsy Action and the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine to gather feedback on INNERVATE from others living with epilepsy. Responses were overwhelmingly positive with all participants stating that INNERVATE reflected their own experience of living with epilepsy. Comments included:

“I can draw strong parallels with what I read and saw to my own condition to the point where I’m thinking ‘if you changed that bit, or twisted this bit, you’d get me!’ “

“An innovative project that bridges science and art”

“Normal and healthy people take normal and health for granted. This is a translation of what it’s like to suddenly find yourself cast out of that normal world and into the new unknown of every day life.”

By displaying and performing INNERVATE Liza aims to raise awareness that it is possible to overcome a chronic condition like epilepsy successfully and even have it add to your professional career. 

Many thanks to Help Musicians UK’s Fusion Fund for supporting this work.