Real Voices interview: Troi ‘DJ Chinaman’ Lee
Watch or read an interview with Troi, who was born deaf and is the head organiser of Deaf Rave, a music party for deaf people
Running time 3 mins 13 secs
What do you do?
I’m a DJ and events organiser who was born deaf. I founded Deaf Rave.
How did you first get into music?
When I was about ten I got my first Walkman. I’d put the headphones not over my ears, but over my hearing aids. People would look at me strangely, but that’s how I listen to music.
I went to my first (hearing) rave when I was 17, and that really got me into the rave scene. I found that deaf people didn’t really understand raves though – it wasn’t in their culture. When I was 20 I was involved with a pirate radio crew and got my first decks. A deaf girl was having a house party and asked me to DJ there. My cousin, a professional DJ, lived round the corner, so I got a wheelbarrow and loaded his speakers in. It was a great party and a turning point for my career. Afterwards, at deaf nights in the pub, people kept asking me when the next party was. I decided to host one for 700 and Deaf Rave was born!
What part does music play in your life?
For the last six years I’ve been putting on parties and raves for deaf people. These events are really important as they give deaf people a chance to get out and socialise. Nearly everyone at the parties knows each other. All people are welcome but I’d say around 95 per cent of people that come are deaf. There are different levels of deafness – some people have hearing aids or cochlear implants, but the majority don’t. Some parts of the parties could seem strange to hearing people, for example performers signing along to songs instead of singing them.
Who or what has been the greatest musical influence on you?
The people I grew up with made a massive impact. Musician-wise, it has to be Public Enemy and Bob Marley.
What’s the point of music?
Music brings people together, and without music there’s no energy. When I’m listening to music at home it makes me move, makes me feel emotion. I can’t imagine life without basslines and beats.
What’s your desert island disc?
‘Fattie Boom Boom’ by Ranking Dread, a Jamaican singer who’s dead now. I play it everywhere I go.