Revelland works with an incredible team of artists, performance designers, sense specialists and organisers. This series of articles gets you familiar with everyone involved. Please meet, Nwando Ebizie.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about your profession and specialty.
“I am a British-Nigerian multidisciplinary artist that creates Afrofuturist speculative fictions and alternate realities at the intersection of live art, experimental music and multi-sensory installations. I propose new myths, rituals and provocations for perceptual change, radical care and transformation of the self and community, drawing from science fiction, Black Atlantic ritual cultures, biophilia, neuroscience, my own neurodivergency and Nigerian heritage.”
“My critically-acclaimed works include the multimedia installation Distorted Constellations, left-field pop persona Lady Vendredi (a blaxploitation heroine from another dimension) and ecstatic operatic experience Hildegard: Visions. I have been commissioned by and have had my works shown across the UK and internationally, including the Barbican, Brighton Festival, Science Gallery Melbourne, Hepworth Museum, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Southbank Centre, BALTIC, Site Gallery, Humber Street Gallery, Rio de Janeiro’s Tempo Festival, London Sinfonietta, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Zurich’s Blok.”
“In 2021 I was nominated for an Ivor Novello Composer award for my Radiophonic piece: Fire Prevention. As a composer and musician, I was awarded the Oram Award with special commendation (2019) and a British Council Musician in Residence (2018) amongst others, and have been commissioned by London Sinfonietta, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Radiophrenia. My music and sound pieces have been broadcast on BBC Radio 6, BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, NTS Radio, Worldwide FM and Resonance FM. My critically-acclaimed works include the multimedia installation Distorted Constellations and ecstatic operatic experience Hildegard: Visions.”
“My critically acclaimed first EP The Passion of Lady Vendredi on my own imprint Tears In The Rain records caught the ears of taste makers such as Gilles Peterson, The Wire and BBC 3’s Late Junction. This EP was supported through Peterson’s Steve Reid Foundation and as an Steve Reid Innovation award winner I was mentored by Floating Points, Emanative and Brownswood Records.”
“I have performed at clubs and festival stages worldwide as my art-pop alter-ego Lady Vendredi (a blaxploitation heroine from another dimension), including performances at Latitude Festival, Kings Place, the Barbican, Southbank Centre, Bonobo (Tokyo), Tempo Festival (Rio de Janeiro), Blok (Zurich) and opening for Mykki Blanco, Peaches and Princess Superstar.”
“As a composer and musician, I recently released a new single ‘I Seduce’ taken from my debut album The Swan – a work of sonic fiction into the imagined world of a matriarchal community – which comes out in early 2022 on Matthew Herbert’s Accidental Records.”
How did you get to this point in your career? What were the key turning points that shaped your (unconventional) path? What skills and attributes were indispensable within this journey?
“Learning how to trust my own vision. Which was influenced in a big way by experiencing mental health difficulties, accepting myself, finding out about my neurodivergencies, exploring these with neuroscientists, creating Sci/Art projects, learning about perception and allowing all of this to flow into creative work. I let go of a lot of ideas about what I should be doing and how I should be doing things, and allowed myself to dream and find out how I create.”
Can you share some of your highest highs when it comes to adding your specialty to a music performance?
“Probably seeing feedback from people from the experiences I create. People draw amazing images, have said that they found the work profoundly moving or even life changing – inspiring them to understand more about themselves and others.”
Do you dare to share an utter fiasco with us as well?
“I once put on a supposedly feminist cabaret/fashion show/club night. Utter disaster. One of the eight audience members heckled me (rightly) and I asked the DJ to end the night early.”
If we would join you on a random working day, what would it look like?
“I’d walk up the hills behind my house to the moors for a think/look at the beauty/smell the peat bogs, probably be in my music studio for part of the day, maybe go to my local bar to talk to friends.”
Why is accessibility important?
“Because we cannot claim to be creative or to create art if we haven’t connected to all facets of human experience. Because there is so much left to be discovered because a vast swathe of people haven’t been considered.”
How does your specialty benefit creative accessibility (inclusive solutions for exclusion issues that add value for multiple target groups and promote equal experiences for all)? Can you give a concrete example regarding immersive live performances?
“Creating my multisensory installation Distorted Constellations. I wanted to create a piece that gave an idea of my experience with somebody who has Visual Snow Syndrome – a neurological syndrome that means I have atypical perception. It is a very intense experience and many people with chronic pain conditions told me that they found the immersive light, projection and 360 degree sound very soothing. I also had reports that people with PMD really enjoyed the intensity.”
“Another example – my live performance – Lady Vendredi: Neon Dream – featured lots of balloons. At one point in the theatrical gig, I asked the audience to take hold of a balloon, hold it close to them, talk into it. I hadn’t realised that this is something that some D/deaf people do at concerts anyway to make the music more accessible for them.”
What has been the most memorable experience within the Revelland project so far?
“Getting to listen to the musicians music and think with them about ways to make their concerts creatively accessible.”
Do you have any advice for emerging artists who want to take their live performance to a next level and simultaneously become more accessible?
“Collaborate with people who have different access needs to yourself. Think about yourself, understand your own approaches and needs in order to understand other peoples.”
Want to know more about Nwando? Make sure to follow her on Instagram and check out her website: www.nwandoebizie.com.
Header photo taken by Dimitri Djuric