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Making music and DJing with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Sanjeev − aka Supermann on da beat − is a Scottish music producer, promotor and activist who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Having worked with artists from all over the world, he spreads awareness about making the music scene more accessible, and how others with disabilities can follow their creative passions.

Living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy has its ups and downs, but for me has definitely had more ups. I’m glad I was given this path. I can’t imagine my life without my best friends who I’ve met because I have Duchenne muscular dystrophy And I probably wouldn’t have started making music if I hadn’t been shielding during the pandemic. I’m proud to be disabled and a disabled artist who shares my music with the world.

Discovering how to produce music

I’ve always loved music. Even when I was young, I listened to a lot of heavy metal and hip-hop. It was a way to help me feel my emotions and let them out. I’d always wanted to make music but couldn’t see how that was possible when I’m not able to play musical instruments. 

Like most people in the muscular dystrophy community, shielding during Covid-19 meant I had a lot of free time on my hands. I got into making music in the first lockdown and realised that you don’t need to play an instrument, but rather you can use a PC to make music. I started experimenting with different software and came across Soundtrap. I realised I didn’t need to be able to physically play the drums or guitar, I could create those sounds with the software just using my mouse.

I had no idea how much making music would help me mentally. I’d never really had a form of expression that allowed me to voice my emotions in an artistic way until that point. It felt so freeing to find a form of creativity that I could be part of. Especially when the world was such a scary place for people with severe conditions at the time. It helped me feel calm in a crazy world.

I’ve worked with artists around the world like Mic Righteous, Genesis Elijah and Rockie Fresh

Forging a music career

Since launching my music career, I’ve had some amazing opportunities. I’ve worked with artists around the world like Mic Righteous, Genesis Elijah and Rockie Fresh, as well as lots of awesome Scottish artists. My music is a mix of genres. It usually has a hip-hop base with grunge and rock fusion. 
I also run Hip Hop Scotland, which is a platform aimed to promote local Scottish artists with live shows, podcasts, playlists and reviews. We run our own events regularly in Glasgow and I usually DJ at most of them. I use Virtual DJ on my laptop when I go on stage to mix tracks together. You can use your mouse to drag in tracks and the software has decks on the screen to mix the music. It’s great and super accessible.

Using my music platforms to promote accessibility

Partly due to my presence in the hip hop community, I’ve built up a good following on social media of people who are genuinely interested in what I do. It’s important to me that I use my platforms to raise awareness around disabled artists and accessibility in the music industry. I used to be a journalist and created many disability awareness videos with BBC Scotland, but now I focus on things like the lack of access to music venues and onto stages. Last year I launched a petition to get the UK Government to make music venues more accessible for disabled people. It created lots of noise in the media, with publications like the BBC and STV covering the issue. I think it really made people aware of how widespread the issue is.

I launched a petition to get the UK Government to make music venues more accessible for disabled people

Speaking at Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Scottish Conference

I’m really looking forward to speaking at the Muscular Dystrophy UK Scottish Conference on 23 March, to talk about how music can help our mental wellbeing. It’ll be great to see faces that I haven’t seen in a long time. I would like my speech to hopefully give new individuals with muscular dystrophy and their families hope for the future. We can be happy and live our best life! I want people to see that having Duchenne muscular dystrophy doesn’t mean you can’t have dreams. Anything is possible, and if there’s something you really want to do, go for it. You can always find a way. 

My biggest inspiration to be a prominent figure in the music scene, is the hope that others with Duchenne muscular dystrophy will see me and think I could do that too. There is still a huge unconscious bias towards us that means people have low expectations of disabled people. And that can mean we end up having low expectations of ourselves. But I’m challenging that, and I hope others will join me to push change.

You can listen to my music on Spotify and follow my journey on Instagram and TikTok.

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