Who is Sama' Abdulhadi, the Palestinian DJ performing at Coachella?

The artist is credited with introducing techno music to Palestine

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In between the finer print of the Coachella 2022 artist line-up announcement lies the name of an electronic music pioneer.

Palestinian DJ Sama' Abdulahdi will perform at the popular festival in California for the first time, on April 16 and April 23.

She will play alongside a number of electronic music luminaries including Disclosure, Richie Hawtin and Hot Chip.

Announcing her participation on Instagram, Abdulhadi said she is “thrilled” for what will be the biggest gig of her career.

The news also caps off a remarkable rise for the artist largely credited with introducing techno music to Palestine, and in turn showcasing its vibrant independent music community to the world.

The beginnings

Born in Jordan, Abdulhadi, 30, moved to Palestine as a child.

With a passion for music exhibited at an early age, her first exposure to the Palestinian underground music scene was in 2004.

It was a time when hip-hop was the genre of choice in Ramallah parties.

It was after moving to Lebanon for a two-year course on analogue synthesisers that she first heard techno music and was immediately enamoured by its darker and propulsive sound.

On returning to Palestine in 2009, Abdulhadi showcased her fledgling DJ skills by holding techno parties and introducing it to the music community.

While techno's abrasive sounds initially turned people off and made those club nights a financial failure, her fortunes changed upon connecting with Jazar Crew, a Palestinian art and culture collective in Haifa. Together, they were able to organise successful gigs.

Those shows, which continued to run until the pandemic hit, went on to become a talent incubator for a new generation of Palestinian electronic music artists and DJs.

Her big break

With Abdulhadi building a buzz through tours in the UK and Europe, she got her biggest exposure in 2018 when tapped to perform as part of the Boiler Room, a concert series streaming live DJ sets from various international locations.

With the series coming to Palestine for the first time, Abulhadi's big outdoor gig in Ramallah garnered more than nine million views on YouTube.

The power of the set and the production values of the video functioned as a career calling card, with Abulhadi getting more prominent gigs including Exit in Serbia and Dubai's Groove On The Grass festival in 2019.

The Impact

While her career is relatively young, Abdulhadi has cemented her legacy across the Palestine music scene.

“No one played techno in Ramallah before. [Now] we have a proper scene,” she told DJ Mag last year.

“We have really good DJs, we have a lot of DJs now. It’s very raw here. People do it with all their heart, they dance with all their heart, and because it’s a very small community, it’s a safe space. We’ve all known each other since we were children, basically.”

Palestinian singer-songwriter Rasha Nahas hailed her as a pioneer.

"I was never really a techno fan, but something is different when Sama' is behind the decks,” she told The National. “She has a crazy aura when she's performing that I just can't explain."

Hundreds of thousands of people at Coachella are now set to experience that magic, too.

Updated: January 16, 2022, 3:03 PM