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Technologist, sound-designer, inventor and NASA Datanaut LJ Rich is well known for presenting on the BBC’s flagship technology show ‘Click’, though she’s also gathering notoriety talking about her synaesthesia – a mixing of the senses that gives her both super-powers and fatal flaws! She sees colours when hearing music, and food tastes and textures map to musical keys. LJ was interviewed in The New York Times about her experiences as a synaesthete and musician.
Her talks on tech trends always involve audience participation, and she absolutely loves collaborating to create magic.
LJ’s interacted with hundreds of startups, hackspaces, businesses, artists and technologists across the globe. This year, she was selected to be part of NASA’s Datanaut program – and is now currently working with NASA data scientists leading a project on data sonification. In September she was “Hack Queen” for Music Tech Fest in Stockholm.
LJ’s hung out with founders and CEOs (including Twitter, Raspberry Pi, Apple, Google, Barclays), Academic Innovators (MIT, Tokyo Tech, IIT), Rockstar Royalty (Brian May, Stevie Wonder, Will.I.am) and is active in the creative music community. She has a masters in Music from Christ Church Oxford, and adores science fiction, japanese food and recreational lock-picking.
In the last few years, LJ‘s been wired up to cinema storylines, controlled light and music with her brain, sat in the driver’s seat of an autonomous vehicle, built her own bone-conduction sound transmitting device, fixed her own iPad, co-written a one-night-only sci-fi comedy musical, successfully landed an airship in a simulator, composed binaural soundscapes in real time, performed live in a Tokyo 3D Printing Cafe with a dancing robot, and won a hackathon or two. In VR she’s ridden skateboards, punched sharks, seen herself from 2 metres away in real time, and ridden a roller coaster in Virtual and Real life at the same time. Prior to working at the BBC, LJ was a sound engineer for Pete Waterman’s studios. She was also the top-selling technology expert on QVC (The Shopping Channel) watching trends unfold from inside the consumer electronics industry.
As a kid, LJ won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, where she fell in love with their electronic music studio. It was here that she plugged data from planetary orbits into a music sequencer so she could listen to the solar system. Now LJ creates unique musical experiences for audiences from Harvard to Tokyo, Paris & LA. She also composes non-linear music for art installations for the likes of Disney, Austin’s SXSW festival, the UK’s Bestival and California’s Nocturnal Wonderland.
LJ regularly writes and presents for BBC national television and radio, explaining how music, technology and social trends work. She’s probably best known for presenting on BBC’s ‘Click’ technology show, interviewing everyone from the founder of Twitter to the CEO of Google, and travelling the world to chronicle technology trends – though she’s no stranger to The Today Programme, Woman’s Hour, the BBC Breakfast Sofa and more.
She loves to think differently about technology, and has fixed her own iPad, ridden one of the first VR roller coasters on a real coaster – operated the Hogwarts Express Black no 5 locomotive, sat in the driver’s seat of an autonomous vehicle and even captained the BBC team in the Segway Polo World Cup!
MUSIC / SYNAESTHESIA
LJ was recently interviewed by The New York Times and The Scientist about her experiences of synesthesia and perfect pitch. She holds a masters degree in Music from Christ Church College, Oxford. Her concert pianist training mixed with how she breaks down music into its constituent parts makes for some entertaining performances – from Harvard (USA) to KTH (Sweden) to South by SouthWest and Tokyo’s Hikarie Hall.
This year, she was selected to be part of NASA’s Datanaut program and now leads a project on creative approaches to data sonification.
Synaesthesia has always inspired LJ’s composing but also compels her to invent and build interactive music experiences and performances. These range from Live installations at festivals and events (including LA’s Nocturnal Wonderland, SXSW Interactive and the UK’s Bestival) to more intimate performances and live-streaming. As one of the first to recognise the potential of streaming, the #ljtunes show garnered over half a million likes in just a few weeks and even got a mention in The Telegraph.
Other projects included: creating the ultimate dance anthem at London’s Science Museum, co-writing a science musical (featured in The Independent and on BBC World Service) and building sensory-altering devices.
LJ’s fascinated by the nexus of liberal arts, technology and social tech trends and enjoys finding unexpected connections between those areas. She sees parallels between classical and contemporary music, and was one of the first to recognise the power of twitter. LJ will happily chat about good food, good science fiction or space.