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Good Vibrations

Enhancing the EDM experience for both the deaf and hearing, this local DJ's new show covers all five senses.


  • Keenan Panti

While most have found Salt Lake City's vibrant EDM community to be relatively inclusive, that hasn't been the case for those who are deaf or heard-of-hearing. This is a nationwide problem that Maclain Drake hopes to tackle with Vibe—a multisensory EDM show that not only caters to those with disabilities, but aims to provide a better overall experience to everyone. His second show on Friday (May 12, 9:30 p.m., Sky, 149 W. Pierpont Ave., 801-883-8714, $20, 21+, features sound-reactive visuals, smells and an overhead cloud, as well as interpreters and a drink menu inspired by the musicians.

How did the idea for Vibe come about?
I was born with a 70-percent hearing loss. I was never part of the deaf culture in any sort of way, but, deep down, I knew I wanted to do something. ... The whole idea came about because deaf people, I know very much that they love music and, if they knew there was an event that allowed them to enjoy the same music that we get to enjoy every week, they'd really appreciate some kind of effort as opposed to none.

In general, how inclusive are local venues to the deaf community?
Utah's actually very terrible with ADA laws. When I threw my first show, I realized how bad it was. ... When you ask venues for an interpreter, they're kind of, like, 'Why do you need an interpreter?' And if you have to make certain requests for something, that's not accommodating. What are they supposed to do, call every place they go? Everybody likes helping out cultures if they know how, but nobody's really pushing for that. ... I think a lot of people don't understand that deaf people love music, too. They love that kind of atmosphere, but nobody really invites them to those kinds of things.

What can they do to improve?
Just extend an invite and say, 'Look, we want you to come to this; just tell us what you need, and we'll do it.' There's a lot of technology available, and for the majority of people, it wouldn't even affect them if it was installed. They just don't really take the time to consider other people. And I think so many people are just used to getting drunk and going out and in a club kind of atmosphere and they don't realize that we could push for a better show if people just kind of make a request for it.

So this is really about creating a better show for everyone, not just deaf people.
All I care about is a live show, and I think if it's truly a live show and the artist truly wants to get his message across, he can get across all aspects of senses, rather than just one. If you really put dedication into your shows, people do notice that, and anybody will be able to tell that you care about your music and translating it in whatever way you can to anybody—not just for deaf people, but also for blind people, even maybe autistic kids or people in wheel chairs. If you can translate it in that way, it makes it a better show all around.

What do you hope to do with Vibe in the future?
Eventually the plan is to tour with it. We're talking with other people to bring it to other states ... and offer packages to other shows. Like if EDC wanted to do it, we would have a package that would allow interpreters, stage people who do signing of shows, and certain technology, depending on what they want.