Exclusive Mix & Interview
March 27th, 2018
Photo Credit: Petit Bain
Sama. Introduce yourself and who you are.
My name is Sama Abdelhadi. I’m 27. I’m a music producer and sound engineer.
I’m from Palestine and currently living in Paris.
Take us through the beginnings of your career. What are some of your memorable moments and your ups and downs?
As far as I can remember, I was always drawn to electronics, cables, and equipment rather than girly toys. As a kid, I asked my Dad to get me a very basic music kit to play around with. I dabbled in DJ'ing throughout my childhood and teenage years in a pretty simple, self-taught way, and only really learned it properly during my time at University. One of my teachers turned out to be a tribal music DJ and taught me absolutely everything I needed to know.
One of the challenges I faced was the heavily male dominated music world, both in the education and in the industry. I was the only girl in a class full of boys (and ended up with much better grades, ha), and later, the only female DJ at parties. So I had to prove myself not only as an artist but as a woman, as if one would compromise the other.
Photo Credit: Roddy Bow
"As far as I can remember, I was always drawn to electronics, cables, and equipment..."
Can you tell us about some of your influences that have shaped you into the artist that you are today?
As a teenager, I was mainly into Rap, Arabic Hip-Hop, and Rock - a scene that was just beginning to grow back then. I only got into Techno when I first moved to Beirut at age 18. My friends took me to Satoshi Tomiie and I thought we were going to a sushi restaurant, until I instead found myself in a three-day rave.
What I enjoy about Techno is the liberation away from the words. It’s a way of communicating without linguistics. There is no formal or imposed way to listen and understand it. Everyone’s reaction to it is different, which is the beauty of it. It gives everyone a very personal sense of escape.
Tell us about your partnership with Eka3. What came out of it and where can we follow?
After my studies in audio-engineering and music production at SAE in Jordan and London, I went to work as a sound designer for the film industry in Egypt. I started using Eka3’s music library “Awyav”, but knew that Eka3 worked as an incubator specialized in independent music. Its services encompass a record label, a booking agency, a music magazine, and a management service. One thing led to another and I started managing the company. I had yet to acquire business experience but knew plenty about the music and film industries. We became partners and added a music publishing department to its functions.
What are some of the barriers you face working from the Middle East? Anything specific you’d like to share?
The main issue is traveling from country to country. You need visas to go into pretty much anywhere and they are extremely tricky to get. Also, by law, you are not allowed to play music after one in the morning in Palestine, which is quite limiting for a party scene to develop.
Photo Credit: Roddy Bow
"What I enjoy about Techno is the liberation away from words. It's a way of communicating
If you could change one thing about the way music was distributed and shared across online platforms, what would it be?
It feels like so much of music has to be packaged visually, the focus doesn’t seem to be on the music itself but rather the look, the video, and the musician. I’d stream music free of any visual wrapping and go back to the essential: the actual sound.
What does the future hold for your career - What can our audience expect in the upcoming years, both music and business wise?
I have an EP and an album coming out soon I hope, a bunch of remixes, as well as a compilation album I’m working on with a group of Palestinian artists. As for business, there are a lot of things happening on the way, but the work we are trying to do with SACEM concerning collecting societies in the Arab world is the most important I think. We’re working on applying the royalties system in the Arab world, which is something basically non-existent, but is a key element in composers and songwriters rights.
If you could produce a reality TV show, who would be the main star?
I’d feature the Egyptian actor Adel Imam, the Egyptian actor, who, to me, is the funniest man in the world. He doesn’t even have to say anything. The simplest expression on his face is hilarious in itself. I’d be happy to watch him all day in a reality TV show.
Sama, in a few sentences. Tell us about this mix you made for us. Where did you get your inspiration? Is there anything special you want the audience to know?
It’s all using this year’s music and is a different style than what I play in clubs. It's much more chilled – simply because I recorded it in the morning as the sun was shining. It’s something I would play at, say, a beach party, or a groovy day session. Recently, I started adding some sounds and samples from my upcoming album. I'm not sure if you will spot them, but probably once the album is out, it will become more evident.