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Get to know Sama’, the Palestinian artist bringing techno to the West Bank

Sama' channels a hybrid form of Berlin techno with Lebanese flair

  • Jasmine Kent-Smith
  • 2 October 2019

Sama’ Abdulhadi is disorganised: her words, not ours. When asked if she, a perma-busy, globe-trotting DJ with a nomadic lifestyle, prefers routine or spontaneity, she laughs. “Spontaneous, always!” she says over Skype. “I couldn’t be any other way.”

This affiliation with the unpredictable forms a vital part of her DJ career as she journeys from city to city (via an alias change) for each new adventure. Previously, she’s played a now-viral live DJ stream from Ramallah, earned a residency at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, produced multiple studio projects and organised popular parties back in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, one of the first people to introduce techno to the area.

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She moved to Ramallah when she was six. Before this, her family were living in Amman, Jordan, due to the expulsion of her father and his family from Palestine in the 1960s. But in 1994, a rule passed meaning that those, like her father, who were kicked out of Palestine could return and reclaim their right to residency.

As Sama’ (formerly Skywalker), she channels a hybrid form of Berlin techno with Lebanese flair, fine-tuned by time spent in Beirut where she found her musical home in venues such as B018. “[I discovered techno in] 2008 – it was my first year of college in Lebanon,” she recalls. “The music you hear from local DJs there is crazy good.”

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Since leaving Palestine to pursue a degree (and eventually a career) in music production and engineering, she’s lived in a string of cities including Cairo, Beirut, London (“I lived ten minutes from fabric!”) and now Paris. Her worldwide outlook has marked her music: “I never knew I played Berlin techno. I always thought that was techno, I didn’t know there were sections,” she says. “Then I discovered I play a Beirut style of melodic Berlin techno. The last couple of times I’ve been, I’ve noticed I’m more like Beirut DJs than I am Berlin DJs.”

During her downtime she’s returned to Ramallah to link up with DJs and promoters and form a new collective, UNION. Today, it includes stage builders, artists, “people who want to party” and more. “We started organising events that are about building the community, nurturing the community, learning how to deal with each other and the police, because we have a problem with the police,” she says. “Now, DJs, producers, everyone involved in the night scene in Palestine is coming together as a group, talking to one another and writing proposals to the government.”

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As the year draws to a close, Sama’ is channelling energy into her bookings, a future live show and an album. But it’s not been an easy ride. “Every time I produce the expectations get higher and I get afraid and restart,” she admits. “I’ve already restarted four times. I think I need to start finalising it and letting it out into the world.”

Sama’ plays Club To Club in Turin on Nov 2

Jasmine Kent-Smith is Mixmag's Staff Writer and Bass & Club Editor, follow her on Twitter

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