Ramallah’s Underground

A Boiler Room x 4:3 Documentary on Palestine’s Burgeoning Music Scenes



A still of Sama’ from  Palestine Underground  at Boiler Room show in Ramallah. Credit to Boiler Room for all images.

A still of Sama’ from Palestine Underground at Boiler Room show in Ramallah. Credit to Boiler Room for all images.

Hosting live-streamed DJ sets from New York to Kenya, Berlin to South Africa, the now-globally recognized music platform Boiler Room travelled to Ramallah. In addition to helping organize, record, and publish seven featured performances, this gave rise to 4:3’s latest documentary, Underground Palestine.

The upcoming project, part of the Contemporary Scenes series, takes us to one of the world's most misrepresented spaces: Palestine, specifically Ramallah. Providing an international stage for Palestinians from all over the territories—occupied or not—Boiler Room, in collaboration with Ma3azef, brings the uniquely politicized world of Ramallah's electronic and hip-hop culture to the rest of the world.

"The film gives a rare insight into the lives of these counterculture activists. For those involved, music and partying isn’t just hedonism—it’s about cultural survival. Nightlife culture allows them to break down geopolitical borders, reconnect with their people, and celebrate their identity on the dance floor.

The documentary culminates on Friday 22 June 2018, when Boiler Room hosted its first ever party in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinian West Bank. Live streamed to their international audience of 260+ million, the daytime outdoor party hosted by Jazar Crew and friends showcased an underground music scene peacefully reacting against one of the toughest political feuds in history. It stands as a historical chapter in the scene’s ten-year existence, an ecstatic celebration of its creativity and strength, shared globally."

Yet despite these constraints, these musicians have successfully built a thriving cultural scene, "united through the unique regional sound they’ve created and their love for partying." The musicians featured in the documentary span from techno to trap, featuring pillars of the active Ramallah scenes such as Oddz and Sama', two of Palestine's most popular techno DJs, as well as Muqata'a, Makimakkuk, and Al Nather, some of the country's revered hip-hop artists. And these are just a handful of the musicians Palestine offers.

Giving visibility to melómanos, socialites, and DJs alike, Boiler Room presents a Palestine rarely seen in the West. Trendy onlookers crowd around a DJ set puffing cigarettes and moving to the beat; some wear Hawaiian shirts, others leather straps. But, where the Boiler Room sets suggest a lively and burgeoning subculture, Palestine Underground dives into the lives of those who make the country's subversive nightlife possible—with all their complexities and difficulties:

"The film sheds light on the constraints placed upon these Palestinian artists, from their restricted freedom of movement enforced by the Israeli government to the midnight party curfew imposed by the Palestinian Authority, and shows that their scene is thriving in spite of it."

Palestine Underground is directed by BBC and Channel 4 documentary filmmaker and journalist Jess Kelly and produced by Boiler Room’s Anaïs Brémond. The 22nd June 2018 live-streamed Boiler Room party was programmed by Debora Ipekel, Palestine Underground Assistant Producer. Palestine Underground is slated for release November 13, 2018, and will be available on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and elsewhere. For more information, follow Khabar Keslan to keep up with our upcoming interviews with the musicians featured in this documentary.



Sama’ — coming soon

An emblematic artist of the Palestinian underground scene, SAMA' previously known as SkyWalker is the first DJ to have imported the Techno movement into Ramallah. She started mixing in 2006 and started producing her own music four years later. Her sound: a powerful punchy techno, dry and musical all at once, with a very personal twist. Starting April 2017, SAMA' moved to Paris to start working on her next album at the International City of Art in Paris. SAMA' has performed in various different countries worldwide including Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, UK, France and Belgium, Germany, Italy.

Boiler Room is an independent music platform and cultural curator, connecting club culture to the wider world, on screen and irl though parties, film and video. Founded in 2010, Boiler Room started with a webcam taped to a wall, broadcasting from a warehouse in London, opening a keyhole to the city’s underground. With its award-winning content, Boiler Room now reaches more than 260+ million per month. Boiler Room has a significant and growing fan base and the dedication of the world's most committed music fans, who consume shows expertly-curated by its passionate music team. Their remit is to platform music in new ways—sound on for the voices and stories of the fringes of the mainstream.

4:3  by Boiler Room is a multifaceted genre-spanning platform providing created and curated video content exploring themes of performance, identity, youth culture, anti-establishment and the underground. Platform agnostic, 4:3 is for curious minds and those connected to culture, offering an exploration of unseen films and as well as in real life experiences, an opportunity to discover the unknown. Like Boiler Room, 4:3 is rooted in physical experience; our events are multi-faceted, connecting the dots between club culture and cinema to stretch the boundaries of what a film experience can be.