Faces Behind the Screen: DJ Supalee

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Part 1

Leyland Lyken – better known as DJ Supalee – is a deaf DJ. Having been born hearing, DJ Supalee shares how he lost his hearing, and what it was like learning a new lifestyle.

“I was born hearing. And what happened was I went to a family cookout, and they had a huge pool. I was a very ambitious kid. I was very aggressive, trying to do things that I’m not supposed to do. So what happened was I went to the deep side of the pool. I thought I could swim, but I couldn’t. I almost drowned, and I almost died. A lifeguard saved me, took me out of the water and revived me. They did CPR, and then when I woke up, I was deaf…It was difficult because I didn’t know sign language at the time. I had to change my life from being a hearing person to a deaf person.”

Learn more about DJ Supalee’s story in his video interview, and discover how his love for music evolved despite his loss of hearing.



Part 2

In the second part of DJ Supalee’s story, he shares how he first got into DJing. After years of practicing on the equipment his father introduced him to, he was ready for his first party. Watch Part 2 of the interview to learn more about DJ Supalee’s introduction to DJing and his favorite thing about the experience.

DJ Supalee said that after his first successful event, “I was really proud because we accomplished something I never thought we would do.” As a deaf DJ, Supalee is shattering stereotypes and breaking down barriers one party at a time.

“But in a way, I’m feeding that energy to the crowd.”



Part 3

In the final part of DJ Supalee’s story, he shares the origin story of American Sign Language (ASL) poetry at Busboy’s and Poets. What started as a one-off event has turned into a staple in the DC deaf community for the past ten years. People from all over the world are taking part, and ASL students come to learn about Deaf culture and practice sign language.

“At the end of the night, we would feel connected, inspired, happy, sad, a whole bunch of different kind of emotions.”


Faces Behind the Screen would like to thank DJ Supalee (Leyland Lyken) for participating in our storytelling project. If you’re interested in sharing your story with us, fill out our nomination form.

Pictures of four people who were interviewed for the Faces Behind the Screen project

Faces Behind the Screen is a storytelling project focusing on members of the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

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