World's First Eye-Controlled Music Tech Comes to Australian Music Week / by Kylie Cobb

Jessica Irwin, an emerging Australian musician with cerebral palsy will showcase groundbreaking technology at Australian Music Week on 8 November, performing live with her idol, Steve Balbi, thanks to the world's first eye-controlled music software, Atmosphere from Pyskinetic. 

Developed by renowned biomedical engineer, Dr Jordan Nguyen and his Psykinetic team, Atmosphere is a digital interface enabling pre-recorded and programmed notes, chords and sound sequences to be triggered and controlled by eye-movement and blinks.

Until now, Jessica's ability to control only her mind and eyes has stopped her from fulfilling a life-long ambition to be a musician, "I've always dreamed of making music," the 31-year old Central Coast artist said.

"But could obviously never physically play an instrument...I knew these hands weren't going to cut it in the music industry! 

"Yet every time I saw a live gig, my inner musician was shouting to escape. I wanted to be on stage performing.

"And now, thanks to Jordan, Psykinetic, Steve and the magic of eye-controlled technology, my dreams are coming true."

In an unprecedented creative collaboration, Jessica and multi-platinum, award-winning musician, Steve Balbi (Mi-Sex, Noiseworks) recorded and released a reimagined version of Balbi's song, Winners, which they will perform live at Australian Music Week, as well as participate in an expert panel.

Australian Music Week director and programmer, Geoff Trio said, "We are very excited to showcase this world-first technology at Australian Music Week."

"For the millions of people like Jessica, who have the creativity, desire and mind to make incredible music but are inhibited by severe physical limitations, this kind of technology is an absolute game-changer.

"Music is for everyone. And to be shown that music can now be made by everyone too is revolutionary."

The panel will see Jess, Steve and Atmosphere's cutting edge developers discuss how this new technology works, why it is truly groundbreaking and the future of eye-controlled technology and its applications in music.

Like any instrument, Jess said that using Atmosphere, "takes years to perfect and to find your unique voice."

"You can't just pick up a bass guitar and suddenly you're Don Martin from Mi Sex!" she said, "I've had to learn to control muscle spasms, the basics of music and learn how to use eye control."

"I’ve always believed that if you can imagine it, and are prepared to work for it, you can achieve it."

Taking place in Sydney's Cronulla Beach 7-11 November, Jess Irwin and Steve Balbi will be performing live at Australian Music Week on Thursday 8 November in conjunction with a music tech panel discussion. Tickets on sale now at australianmusicweek.com


About Australian Music Week

Australian Music Week is Australia's most accessible, grassroots music industry conference, taking over Sydney's beachside town of Cronulla, 7-11 November 2018.

Bringing artists and industry professionals at the forefront of the grassroots music scene together for 5 days and nights, Australian Music Week is all about real music discovery, relevant industry advice and good times with good people.

Showcasing more than 150 artists, Australian Music Week boasts genuine music discovery across an incredibly diverse cross-section of Australian and international music, from indie pop, electronica, rock and blues through to folk, Americana and country.

As well as presenting more than 20 of its own panels and masterclasses unpacking the latest industry issues with leading Australian and international experts, Australian Music Week also plays host to the official annual Folk, Americana and Country Music Conferences and Australia's only dedicated Music Film Festival, which showcases the best in music related film 10-11 November.

Australian Music Week is proudly presented by Oztix.


About Psykinetic & Dr Jordan Nguyen

Psykinetic is a game-changing social business creating futuristic, inclusive and empowering technologies to improve independence and quality of life for people with disabilities.

Founded in Sydney, Australia in 2014 by renowned biomedical engineer Dr Jordan Nguyen, Psykinetic has built an extensive portfolio of assistive and inclusive technologies for the disability sector. 

At just 20 years old, Jordan’s direction in life was indelibly charted in a dive gone wrong, where he hit his head on the bottom of a swimming pool and was left unable to move and fearing permanent damage. Fortunately, Jordan recovered and emerged from the experience with determination and commitment to direct his energies to the not-so-insignificant challenges that people with disability face when trying to access necessary equipment and resources that enable independence.

With the global launch of FRONTIER communication software, ATMOSPHERE music creation, and the world’s first eye-controlled software marketplace, StarGaze; Psykinetic has laid the foundation with the aim to create a more inclusive global society, including for the 1.4 million Australians (1 in 18) living with severe or profound disability.

 Atmosphere is now able to be downloaded at psykinetic.com/stargazedownload @psykineticaus


About Jessica Irwin

Australian Music Week 2018 Jessica Irwin TEDx .jpg

Jessica Irwin is a unique young woman with a different perspective on life to most of us. Born with a high level of cerebral palsy, together with an equally high level of self-determination and raw talent, she has excelled in achieving her goal of establishing and operating a commercial
photography, website and graphic design business.

Testing the waters in music band photography, Jessica was taken under the wing of Australia's raw music legend Steve Balbi (Noiseworks, Mi-Sex) building a successful portfolio, including photographing on the red carpet
for the ARIA Music Awards.

2015 saw Jessica join forces with the bio medical engineer, Dr Jordan Nguyen and his team at
Psykinetic. Utilising Psykinetic’s eye controlled music instrument, ATMOSPHERE, enabled
Jessica to achieve her ultimate dream of performing music on stage. Accompanying the Australia
Piano Quartet, Jessica was the first musician to play an eye controlled instrument at the Sydney
Opera House and TEDx. This led to many more classical music performances and improvements
to the newly created instrument, ATMOSPHERE. Then in 2017, she discovered her place next to
her idol, Steve Balbi, performing rock at Telstra Vantage. Steve and Jessica released their first
single together, “Winners (Psykinetic Mix)” in April 2018.


About Steve Balbi

First cutting his chops on bass with Kevin Borich Express at just 17 years of age, Balbi was very much the child prodigy.

Balbi cultivated an indelible production and song-writing partnership with Justin Stanley; first founding and producing Aussie chart-toppers Noiseworks (1986), before forming the Electric Hippies in 1993.

Numerous European tours, four multi-platinum award-winning albums, and various ARIA Award
Nominations later, Balbi lifted his guitar from the rack to form Universe with Cathy Green (X) in 1996,
working with Prince and Paisley Park’s Susan Rogers, before Move Trees and Moon emerged in subsequent years. Then in 2011, Balbi accepted an invitation to front 1970s and ‘80s new-wavers Mi-
Sex, who will next year mark the 40th Anniversary of Graffiti Crimes and Computer Games.

Steve has produced a dynamic assemblage of artists including Noiseworks, Glenn Shorrock, Juice, Jenny Morris, Vincent Stone, Fyre Byrd, Moon, and Christine Anu, among numerous others. And in 1999, Balbi sat in on vocals and guitar for David Bowie’s Hours sessions with Marius de Vries too.

Yet it is Balbi’s debut solo LP, Black Rainbow (2013), and its subsequent surreal reprise, Rainbow Black
(2016), which appears to have set a point of departure for his enigmatic artistry, and manifestation of
his forthcoming solo LP – Humans, from which the first single ‘Modern Love’ is due for release 26 October.


CONTACT

Kylie Cobb | Kitty Kitty Bang Bang PR | +61 402 434 523 | kylie@kittykittybangbang.com.au