This month marks the gradual return of live music events in the UK: the government-set date of 21st June will, hopefully, be a turning point in the pandemic in the UK, and its devastating effects on the music industry. As we go to print with each issue, DJ Mag’s thoughts are with the creatives and music industry workers whose lives have been upended by the pandemic. We can only hope that the summer months will give us more to smile about together again. This issue’s cover story is a tender and important one.
Last December, Sama Abdulhadi, the most prominent techno DJ in Palestine, was arrested by the Palestinian authorities after playing a gig in the occupied West Bank. Sama’s story made international news, and a petition calling for her release was signed by over 100,000 people worldwide. Sama is now at home in Ramallah, and her story has been told for DJ Mag by journalist Sirin Kale and photographer Samar Hazboun. How did Sama fight to become Palestine’s most recognisable dance music artist? What happened to her that fateful day last year, how has it affected her life, and what are her hopes for the future? It is an emotional story of resilience, community, trauma and love that makes for fascinating reading. As this issue went to print, horrific violence erupted in Jerusalem, Gaza, and the occupied West Bank, and Sama’s story has been drawn into even sharper focus. She’s become a reluctant spokesperson for the Palestinian people, as she explains in the interview: “I just want to be a DJ, I never wanted to speak about politics… but I guess I also understand it: I’m the only one from Palestine. I’m the only person who can talk about it. So I might as well do it, because it’s needed.”
DJ Mag has been in close contact with Sama and her team throughout this time of violence, and we are aware and thankful that she and her immediate family are safe. Also in this issue, we have interviews with R&B artist KeiyaA, pioneering disabled producer Dax Pierson, Detroit techno and hip-hop legend Waajeed, Brazilian breakthrough Cashu, and UK artists Hagan and Loraine James, among others — and James takes home the title of Album of the Month, too. There’s also a look at 20 Years of Serbia’s EXIT Festival, the fascinating world of reissue labels, a deep dive into the Irish drill scene, and much more.