Some DJs are known for certain genres of music and Tala Samman professes to have a bond with R&B and hip-hip. The Syrian beauty also lists Toronto as her top city for going out music-wise as many of her favourite artists, including Nav and 88 Glam, came from the dynamic Canadian city. However, Samaan, who first tried her hand at spinning while studying in London and went on to attend workshops in Dubai, is on a perpetual musical journey that always leads her to new discoveries.
Dubai-raised Samman, one of the region’s original It girls who has become a prevalent figure within the Middle East’s DJ circuit, talks to AboutHer’s Roula Allam about how travelling inspires her. She also describes the challenges she faces as a DJ and how she loves to expand people’s musical tastes. The Chicago-born DJ, who has been busy mixing for renowned international brands like Tory Burch and Tod’s, talks about some of her most exciting gigs, including opening Dua Lipa’s electric Abu Dhabi concert and playing at the mega Electric Run party.. Plus, she highlights how excited she is to be part of the growing female DJ movement.
When did you start DJing and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I started DJing over three years ago, however, around 10 years ago, when I moved to London, I took some classes on vinyl. I grew up loving hip-hop and R&B and played a few instruments, but I always loved watching DJs and producers at work.
So tell us some more about your connection with R&B and hip-hop music.
I really do live for R&B and hip-hop music. I like to jam to it, workout to it and dance to it.
Can you tell us about some of the weirdest or most exceptional moments in your artistic career?
I don’t know about weird, but opening for Dua Lipa’s concert in Abu Dhabi and playing at the Electric Run party for 14,000 people were definitely moments I’m grateful for.
So how was the vibe at the Dua Lipa concert you opened?
It was truly an unforgettable night! The crowd was great and the energy was insane. As a DJ, it’s truly all about the energy of the crowd.
What are your main challenges as a DJ?
DJing and music generally take up a lot of time, so for someone like me, who always has limited time on her plate, that’s a challenge. Whether I’m discovering music, mixing or recording, I tend to spend a couple of hours in one go.
Would you say it’s still a male-dominated field in the region?
I would say more so in our city it is, but that’s changing, and I’m really excited to be a part of this movement.
What do you want people to feel when you’re spinning the hits?
I’m sure every DJ agrees, you want people moving, dancing and thoroughly enjoying the music. Personally, I hope to also expand people’s music tastes. We have so many incredible artists who are either starting up or aren’t so commercial, and I feel it’s a DJs jobs to educate people about the real talent out there.
And how do you feel when you’re playing?
Playing and mixing at home vs. performing for a crowd are really different. When I’m home, I’m able to play around and take risks, whereas playing for a crowd is always a little tougher because you’re there to entertain and perform.
Can you name three essential things you think every DJ should have?
I would say a really good pair of noise cancellation headphones, a library of strong tracks you know inside out and decks of course.
Who would be your dream DJ to collaborate with?
That would have to be DJ Whoo Kid or Hannah Bronfman..
How has your mixed background shaped your choice in music?
I must say ever since I started DJing, I’ve been on my own musical journey, and I try to not define my favourite genres and just let the music take me to new places of discovery.
Have you ever considered producing your own music?
Producing is something I’ve always wanted to get into and learn. I spend so much time in studios watching producers work and there’s nothing more fascinating than watching music get created.
A penny for your thoughts right now?
Travels, I get inspired while travelling and have had to put all my travels to the side for the past few months because of all the DJ gigs I've had going on.