Words by Tess Becker
Music connects us as people, it's one of the many ways to express feeling and emotion, and in a wider lens is one of the biggest cultural tenets in the world. One critical issue is that it's an entire experience almost wholly focused on sound.
There are exceptions, like the famously deaf composer Beethoven, or sign language translators at concerts, but other than the feeling of rumbling bass, music has been gatekept from deaf people. Now a deaf Atlanta DJ is trying to break that barrier.
“Music, it involves hearing yes but a big part is feeling too, the vibrations hitting your bones,” said Robbie Wilde, the deaf DJ.
He’s fully deaf in one ear and has only about 20% of his hearing in the other but he doesn’t let it stop him from what he does with music.
“I lost my hearing when I was seven, due to severe ear infections and high fevers...My parents were immigrants to this country so we didn’t have the proper health insurance, plus it was in the 90s so it wasn’t too much information,” Robbie said. “I learned how to adapt by reading lips and body language.”
Now he makes music by feeling the vibrations in the songs.
“I have been doing this for 20 years so a lot of people know me as #thatDEAFdj,” he said.
More than anything else Robbie isn’t letting his deafness limit him from what he wants to accomplish.
“It’s just a matter of time for the world to completely hear who I am,” he said. “Now more than ever I am strong enough to back up who I am as a deaf individual. I am proud of who I am. I don’t have to hide it.”