Known as the “queen of the Palestinian techno scene”, Sama’ Abdulhadi was becoming internationally recognized as a powerful force in dance music until a gig in Palestine late last year went terribly wrong, threatening not only her career, but her safety and freedom. An artist as determined as she is talented, Sama’ is fighting for her work to be heard, and for the world to connect with her and her fellow Palestinians. Sirin Kale discovers how Sama’ was saved by techno, and how she’s rebuilding her life, and her scene, after a tumultuous time.
Growing up, Sama’ always wanted to be a footballer. But when she was 17, she got injured, and wasn’t allowed to play football any more. Her dad reminded her of how much she used to enjoy “DJing” at parties when she was 13 — meaning, playing a CD of her favourite chart tracks.
“He told me,” says Sama’, “‘didn’t you drive me crazy with DJing?’ He’d have to drop me off at gigs and carry the equipment, because I was a child, and didn’t have a car, obviously.”
Sama’ was intrigued by the suggestion. She moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where she fell in love with the capital’s vibrant techno scene. A Satoshi Tomiie gig, she says, was life changing. Afterwards, in 2009, she moved to Jordan to study audio engineering, at her dad’s suggestion. Her course instructor was a huge techno fan, and her classes “were basically me listening to Pete Tong and Nicole Moudaber”.
After graduating, she lived in Egypt for a while, where she worked as a sound designer for TV and film. When she returned home to Palestine, she’d play DJ sets for her friends, but it was nothing official, or even something Sama’ particularly considered as a career. Ramallah didn’t really have a dance music scene: people were into rap, or commercial chart music. Sama’ would throw parties, but no one came. “I was losing a lot of money,” she laughs, “because I was the only one there.”
Credits & Original Text from DJ MAG – Credits by DJMAG – SIRIN KALE
Sirin Kale is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @thedalstonyears
Photography: Samar Hazboun