The first of its kind, UNSILENCED is an original track with lyrics “sung” through a combination of sign language and dance. The development of the music and movements required a carefully orchestrated collaboration between deaf dancer Billy Read and electronic duo Haute.
Learn more about the project and get involved at https://unsilenced.fr/en/project
In 2017 I was invited to be part of a campaign that aimed to raise awareness of sign language and it's importance in the Deaf community - to be "heard" in the mainstream.
This was a highly ambitious project - a music video in which I played the central acting role in - as a Deaf individual, trying to make his way in a hearing world, expressing his struggle to be accepted, through visual signs and movement.
The music for the video was produced by the French-American band HAUTE, with whom I collaborated on creating the lyrics.
The video was shot in the Olympiades district of Paris. It was directed by brilliant Alban Coret and his team. My assistant choreographer was Ariel Fung, a talented deaf dancer from Hong Kong with whom I collaborate with on many projects.
The entire project was commissioned by Paris-based BETC, at the request of La Parole Aux Sourds - a charity organisation that supports Deaf people in France.
When I was asked to be part of this enormous project, at first I was surprised, and honoured that they thought of me. I was also a bit anxious of being part of such an important project, and a nationwide campaign too.
This video has a very important message to deliver - and the challenge for me was finding the balance between artistic expression, and making the message clear to understand for everyone - not just Deaf audiences, but hearing audiences too.
When combining sign language with movement and dance, in connection with the music and lyrics of the song, achieving that perfect balance proved quite a challenge indeed.
I enjoyed being part of this amazing project - working with a fantastic team of filmmakers from Paris. For me it was a unique opportunity to work with hearing professionals from a different country, and it was a valuable experience which I learned a lot from.
The video has since gained a lot of exposure in France and elsewhere, has featured in numerous newspaper articles and has even been nominated for music awards.
The Making of the UNSILENCED Video: