We asked Sama about the early influences that shaped her as a musician. Having never witnessed a festival till she was 19, she exclaimed, “Early experiences? I never knew of this music or what a DJ did till I went to university in Lebanon. I had no idea that such events and communities existed in the world until then”.
Experiencing a festival, the vibe, and most importantly, the freedom she experienced like never before was something she needed to feel human again. She knew this experience was something to take back home and share with her friends. Sama’ says she knew this was exactly what they needed as a community in Palestine to heal. “This is why I started to DJ; I started playing electronic music for them back home. I am 32 now. This is where I have reached.”
To Sama’ music is all about community, togetherness and creating safe spaces for people to come together and escape from the world outside. In December 2020, she threw a party outside Nabi Musa, a part of a four-part series sponsored by Beatport. Even having secured all rights and licenses for the event, a group of 10 men stopped the party as Sama’ played her last tracks for the night. The next day she was arrested for defiling a religious site and violating health protocols by holding an event during the Covid-19 pandemic. Neither of which was true. The event was organised in the cultural tourist area, away from the shrine, and she had secured the licenses for the event. Abdulhadi’s detention led to an outpouring of international support, with artists and DJs from the electronic community and musical icons like Brian Eno and Roger Waters calling for her release. A Change.org petition asking for her release had gathered over 100,000 signatures. When asked how she felt about the petition, Sama responded, “I laughed so hard. I was convinced it was a lie my family told me to comfort me because, on the other hand, I was told people in Palestine wanted to kill me for defiling their sacred space, which I knew was not true, but no one believed me.” Only after she left the prison facility did she understand the extent of the support received.
The community helped Sama and her family, especially her parents, understand the intensity of strength the techno industry holds. She passionately said, “It made me appreciate the techno industry because I realised it is not just an industry; it’s a community. Of course, we try to earn a living from it, but we are first and last – a community. It also made my mom and dad respect it; now they understand what I mean when I say – I do it for the community”.