Zubin Kanga, the Cyborg Pianist

Pianist, composer and technologist Zubin Kanga celebrates the release of his first solo album Cyborg Pianist later this month with a concert at Kings Place in London (30 September). Kanga commissioned five fellow artists – Laura Bowler, Laurence Osborn, Shiva Feshareki, Oliver Letih and Emily Howard – to create new solo piano works which integrate cutting-edge technologies provided by his Cyborg Soloists industry partners.

For over a decade, Kanga has captivated audiences with his virtuosic piano skills and unceasing drive to experiment with cutting-edge technologies. At the heart of Kanga’s artistic journey lies an insatiable curiosity and a desire to create interdisciplinary musical programmes. These immersive and interactive musical experiences have incorporated motion sensors, AI, 3D visuals, VR, analogue synthesizers, new interactive instruments, magnetic resonators, keyboards as video-game-style controllers, biosensors, interactions with live-video and internet-based scores.

Kanga’s dedication to advancing the intersection of music and technology has earned him recognition and support. In 2020, he was awarded a prestigious £1.4m UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship to fund his Cyborg Soloists project, which is based at Royal Holloway University. This endeavour involves collaborating with international composers, technology researchers and industry partners to pioneer new horizons in music creation and performance.

Cyborg Pianist reflects Kanga’s journey in forging cyborg sonic identities for both the piano and performer. Each work on the album creates distinct soundscapes by blending the piano with ambisonic electronics, dialoguing with synthesizers, bending pitch with new keyboard instruments, shaping sound in the air using sensor gloves and playing with AI-generated sounds. 

London audiences can hear the world premieres of these compositions as part of Kings Place’s Sound Unwrapped series on 30 September, as well as the London premieres of Bowler’s SHOW(ti)ME and Kanga’s own Hypnagogia (after Bach).

Kanga’s most ambitious work to date, Steady State, is a new commission for Cyborg Soloists in collaboration with Alexander Schubert and employs EEG brain-sensors to control sound and light. This ambitious project is scheduled for release in 2024 and follows their earlier success with WIKI-PIANO.NET, an interactive internet-based piano piece performed so far 30 times in nine countries.

Cyborg Pianist is released on NMC on 29 September, with the album launch taking place at Kings Place in London on 30 September