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A World Without Music : EDM and Deafness

Monica and Keelin met at university, the two girls were roommates and remained friends after graduation. They went to EDC 2013 together, and many festivals since. They wear tank tops; Monica likes to wear flowers in her hair. They are both pretty, with huge smiles. They love Above and Beyond. Standing next to these two girls at a festival, you wouldn't notice anything different or special, because they look like everyone else. They're there to enjoy the music and have fun with friends.

Deaf EDM

Keelin and Monica with Christina Novelli

But they are different. Monica is Deaf – 100%, cannot hear what you're saying, Deaf. And Keelin is not only her friend, she is the interpreter.
Going to a festival seems like a waste of time, maybe. If you can't hear anything, why would you attend? But for Monica, the experience of being there is so much more than just music. There are the lights and lasers and lots of people. There is also the rush of adrenalin – the challenge of stepping out of her comfort zone into an experience centered around the one thing she does not have… hearing.

I will tell her, you know, this song is dark. It's heavy, you can feel the bass. It's really angry. The words say… then I tell her the vocals. It's hard to explain a melody. Or explain what the piano sounds like or a violin. I try my best though. -Keelin

Keelin signs (a language of hand signals which signify words) the lyrics of each song to Monica that they see. And later, at home, Monica will look them up, committing the words to memory. Her favorite song, Satellite, has incredible vocals, “You're a half a world away. But in my mind I whisper every single word you say. And before you sleep at night, You pray to me, your lucky star, your singing satellite…

Keelin notes that not everyone is supportive of her and Monica being at shows. Sometimes people around them are hostile, demanding to know why they are there, or calling them names. But live music uniquely can let Monica actually feel the music physically, and see the person on stage as well as the reactions of the crowd.

I love to be at the festival not just because of music but because of the experience overall. There are many things that contributes to the experience such as meeting new people and making new friends, all about love (plur), connections, art, memories being made, lights that also dance with the music, and countless different things that made it worth being there. Keelin being able to interpret the song for me definitely is a bonus as she is giving me the access to something that I do not have the access to. -Monica

Kaskade says, Let the music speak… and Keelin is the ultimate example of living this motto. She fell into becoming an interpreter almost by accident, and now that is her path in life – to give a ‘voice' to the music with her hands. “We are all born with senses and just because you've lost one of them doesn't make you less of a person. The rest of your senses are heightened. Being part of the music is a place where you can be in the crowd and still alone, soul searching.”

I have been deaf my whole life so when people ask me what it's like to not be able to hear I don't know what to say… Because first of all, it is all I know. Of course, there are days where I wish I could hear because that would make everything so much easier. But then there are also days where I am perfectly content with who I am because the experience had shaped me for who I am. I have already recommended to go to the festivals to so many of my friends because it is a rich experience that anybody should be able to experience. A music festival has so much to offer than just music and happiness definitely is not limited to those who can hear. -Monica

So if you believe that EDM is only about the music, perhaps the experience of these two friends will make you wonder if there's more to it than that.

Watch the video below to see Keelin and Monica at TomorrowWorld 2014.

Keelin Lambert

See you at the next fest!

Founders note: Since I posted this, we have received emails from not one, not two, but 4 other Deaf fest raiders expressing their enthusiasm for edm. It is truly amazing. With much love and respect, I hope to see you all at the next festival! -Elle

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