Growing up in an unpeaceful atmosphere doesn’t prevent talent from blooming , it creates a distinguished inspiration. When searching for Palestinian techno music, Sama Abdulhadi’s name comes first. Being a female Arab artist from an under war country is what gives its specificity to her career.
Sama or “Skywalker”is a well known Dj in Ramallah. Everybody knows that girl who loved football and then chose to play the music: Techno, house and other sub-genres.
From Jordan, to Cairo, and Lebanon, she is now in Europe to work on her new album and develop her Techno music. Confirming the important role that women can play in society, Sama is the first female DJ in Palestine. Living in a country under war created that sense of determination to be a successful artist. But not only an ordinary one, she is the pioneer of Techno music DJing in her country.
A War Artist
Artists share a common point of expression: Their personalities are critically shaped by the environement. War artists adopt some aspects from that disturbed atmosphere, give a form to a vivid event using their own vision and dimension. Sama Abdulhadi has a track inspired from the Gaza War, and she is not the first Palestinian artist who uses war to create art. Belal Khaled a photojournalist who used the bomb blasts along with many other elements in his works is one of them. When Sama was working on the music of a film in Egypt, she told the film producer “I couldn’t work on this music. I needed to disconnect from everything else to finish this piece,” she said. She downloaded a video of the fall of bombs which she found rhythmic, and kept on looping it. She also used the screams of a woman who had just lost her son in the war, the sound of demonstrations and added a part of her father’s speech in the memorial of Mahmoud Darwich at the end.
The earliest experiences may stick with a person for years and continue its influence into adulthood. Sama Abdulhadi remembers her childhood and her move from Jordan to Palestine. The clear change from a peaceful society to a country under war, where she witnessed an unstable atmosphere: “as a child you keep on asking your parents and they keep on explaining it, but you don’t understand. You don’t know why human beings would do anything like this but then you grow up and learn.» What she knew for sure was the love of her parents whatever the circumstances:”They always supported me and they never did that with the pressure of female figures. When I started djing my dad loved the idea and gave me the equipments for it .He used to come and carry them with me to the party, put the speakers, leave, come back at midnight, take the speakers, put them in the car and drive me back home.” Even if the Techno Dj now lives in Paris and moves around the world, she never forgets that childhood, ” it is the reason why I am me and the reason why I do what I do”.
Arab Artists Redefining Muslim Societies
The Arab world is often defined through some of its most conservative Muslim societies which reject music, art forms with human representations not to mention sexual connotations or nakedness. Such realities challenge Sama Abdulhadi: “In Egypt I teach kids, I do workshops I work with artists, I meet film makers, I do that in different countries. “ I will go to Sarajevo to see if the Muslim society would love to join Techno Music ” A trip that she knows that will be interesting and at the same time exciting.
Following the footsteps of Lebanese-Nigerian Nicole Moudaber, Sama wants to be one of the most important Arab DJs in the world. She has a busy schedule right now: a trip to Lyon, then Morocco, and work for the company that she chose to found in Palestine. She dreams that one day they will organize a music festival in Palestine, and host artists from all over the world. Another means for the young DJ to spread her music in her native country and put Palestine on the artistic map.
Still Looking up to the Sky to Walk it
In terms of skills and satisfactions, art is an never-ending process that requires both work and higher goals. With a cigarette in her hand, Sama talks about DJing and how it changed her life. Being the first musician, to bring techno music to Palestine, was not only a challenge but hard work. It makes her life more interesting, with periods of relaxations searching for inspirations, and very long periods , with no breaks . Something easy since she is doing the thing she likes the most. “I work a lot on improving myself, but I still look up to the people above me, and I am still working to reach that point.” Sama thus mentions the artists with whom she has been working recently, and artists like Dina El wedidi she always wanted to collaborate with. Now she wants to be compared with Stephan Bodzin, whom she considers both a very distinguished artist and a role model.
After an hour of talking about Sama ‘s life and carrer, she ends the interview telling me about her biggest dream, which is the independance of her country, she kindly invites me to one of her parties, to have a vivid look at her art and the technics she uses to create her own touch, Sama Abdulhadi’s music.