Q&A with Troi Lee

Published 15 Nov 2019 by Caroline

As part of Liberty next weekend, Deaf Rave will present a line-up of d/Deaf performers at one of their infamous club events for audiences of all hearing abilities.

We caught up with Deaf Rave founder Troi Lee to chat to him about what people can expect from the event, why Deaf Rave was set up and much more...

Tell us about yourself. How did you get involved in organising Deaf Rave?

My name is Troi Lee aka DJ Chinaman. I'm the founder of Deaf Rave. I was born Deaf and was raised and still live in Hackney, London. I'm half English, a quarter Vietnamese and a quarter Chinese. I'm oral spoken, thanks to my mother who helped me to lip read and practice my speech from a very early age. I'm fortunate that I can speak and hear thanks to my hearing aids.
My music passion started in my teenage years after my family bought me my first Sony Walkman. I can remember playing my Public Enemy cassette tape over and over again. My family was also very musical; my twin brother was a drummer for his band and my cousins were professional DJs and MCs. I used to watch them play and said to myself, “I want to do this too!” Once I was 18, I started going to raves, clubbing and pirate radio stations. This broadened my knowledge of music, and only fueled my hobby!
I started DJing in my early 20s and loved playing UK Garage, Hip Hop and RnB in the late 1990s. At the time I didn’t really know any other Deaf people that were interested in music except one or two school friends.
Deaf Rave started in 2003. Back then, there was a lack of social entertainment within the Deaf community. This is when I came in and used my expertise to organise the first Deaf Rave parties in the UK.

How does Deaf Rave differ from a regular rave?
Deaf Rave is no different from any other rave, except that the venue is filled with Deaf people signing away in sign language. We feel the beats via vibrations or sometimes just turn that bass up!  Our events are unique, and we’ve now developed ideas for visual performances alongside the raves as Deaf people appreciate this more. This includes doing sign songs or sign language rap. We want to create a platform for our Deaf performers to perform due to the lack of opportunities we have in modern society. Deaf Rave aims to elevate Deaf music and performance and raise awareness that Deaf people love music. 

What kind of music do you play at Deaf Rave?

We play all kinds of music. Mainly electronic dance music as our audience tends to like it due to the sounds and vibrations. We play Reggae, Drum and Bass, Bassline, House, UK Garage and so on. All sorts!

Do you have to be d/Deaf or fluent in sign to come to Deaf Rave?  

Absolutely not, everybody is welcome. It doesn't matter if you are deaf, disabled or hearing. Our motto is We are One.

Where can people find out more about Deaf Rave?  

We have our Deaf Rave website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  As we want to keep raising awareness of Deaf music worldwide.  Thanks to social media we are able to connect more with our audiences and network with anybody who wishes to work with us.

Join Troi Lee at Deaf Rave on Saturday 23 November at the Welcome to the Forest Bar. Plus, don't miss the BSL Taster and DJing workshops also taking place as part of Liberty.