Deaf Newarthill DJ feels the beat

Newarthill DJ John McDevitt. Pic: SWNS.Newarthill DJ John McDevitt. Pic: SWNS.
Newarthill DJ John McDevitt. Pic: SWNS.
A Newarthill man who was born deaf has beaten the odds to become a successful nightclub DJ after he fell in love with vibrations coming from speakers.

John McDevitt has performed in Ibiza, become a regular on Scotland’s biggest internet radio station and reached out to artists as far away as California and Argentina.

John, whose DJ name is ‘Def Beatz’, said he learned to “feel” the music and distinguish between different types of beats by going to gigs in his early 20s.

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And now the 35-year-old said he uses special software to match beats but has also uses a special hearing aid which helps him listen to music.

John said: “I was born deaf, but from a very young age I was listening to music.

“The speakers are built underneath the floor so you could feel the vibrations. That’s where I fell in love with the music.

“When I first started DJing I used vinyl, but the difference is that vinyl is crackling and takes out from the beat a bit. On MP3 there’s a crisper sound.”

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John studied Music Production at James Watt College before starting off mixing and DJing in his home.

Two years ago he entered a competition to bag a spot on Groove City Radio.

John said: “Basically I just saw it advertised that a local radio station in Glasgow had an open night.

“There was a competition and the person who won would get a spot on the radio.

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“I thought there was no harm in it and entered. I was nervous but I actually ended up winning it.

“The judges said it was honestly amazing.”

In June, John got to perform in Ibiza at the Bay Bar Beach club, just next to the famous Ocean Beach Club.

He described it as “the best two hours of my life” and his dream is to now play in a residency at a nightclub or a bar in London.

And his skills have improved thanks to special hearing aids which have become essential in helping him mix music.

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He said: “I actually met the hearing aid designer so I told her I wanted to hear music and she designed it to hear music.

“She had laptop and I saw her move the decibels around.”

John also has a full-time job as a support worker helping adults with disabilities - where he says his experiences have come in handy.

He added: “There are a lot of narrow-minded people out there but nowadays you get blind people playing football.

“There’s nothing stopping you in life - go for it, that’s my motto.

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“When people ask me to do gigs I don’t play just because I’m deaf, I just go and do my thing.

“I’m as good as anybody. Just give me a chance and I’ll show me what I can do.”

For now John is concentrating on his fortnightly shows on Groove City.

He cites DJs Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles as inspirations, and describes his style as a mixture of underground house, deep house and soulful disco.