Hisham Samawi: The Kotori Interview

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He was born in Libya “but once Khadafi came to power, we left there” and was raised in Switzerland. The single grounding factor in this half-Syrian, half Austrian’s turbulent life has always been music and it’s finally paying off for one of the hardest working DJs / producers of our day. Though he wasn’t exposed to electronic music until, as a college student, he did a semester abroad in Australia, the experience turned out to be the first day of the rest of his life.

“That’s when it really all happened. I went to my first club at a place called Home in Sydney, and basically, I fell in love with it. I never really had experienced music on that level before, where it can impact you and evoke such an emotional reaction. From then, it was obvious to me that it was something I wanted to do.”

He’s been an active member of the New York production company, Native Theory, “as an avenue where we could express ourselves,” and a member of the DJ/producer trio, Dirty Gringos, “where we kind of focused on finding stuff that no one else had.” Over the past year, Hisham has produced remixes and original tracks for labels including Plastic Fantastic and Astralwerks, he’s played at the Big Apple’s most esteemed venues, including Arc, Centro-Fly, Discotheque and Subliminal Sessions, sharing the decks with the likes of Eric Morillo, Dave Preston, and Phil K. His work is currently being charted and played in heavy rotation around the world by top DJ’s such as Danny Howells, John Digweed, Danny Tenaglia, Saeed & Palash, and Lee Burridge. Even Sasha was recently spotted snatching someone’s copy of Hisham’s mix cd and also currently spins Hisham’s breakthrough track, “Cowbell.” The world is finally starting to take notice of Hisham Samawi. “It’s crazy to go from starting off and looking up to these guys and not really thinking you could ever make something they would play to the point where it actually happens…it’s mind boggling.”

The truly mind-boggling part is that Hisham’s first release, “Cowbell,” was less than a year ago, and it proved to be one of the biggest tracks of the 2003 Winter Music Conference. It will be released this fall, along with a slew of Hisham Samawi/Dirty Gringos productions. Look for “Cowbell” on Farm Records and “Tamber’s Delight” on Barely There Records, as well as “Kakon,” “Spirals,” “Addicted to Breaks,” “Bumpin’ Tacos,” and “Throwin’ Down” in the coming months. “It’s a lot of fun.” he tells us. “I’ve been working very hard in the studio.”

And he’s been working just as hard trying to bridge the gap between a people and itz leaders. “I had this guy from Israel contact me to play over there. I would definetly like to do something like that…it would be a cool symbolic thing to play in an Israeli club and through the music just have everyone drop all the drama…dance...and remember what life is all about."

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(This was originally published in WAV Magazine, which gave birth to Kotori Magazine, in the Spring of 2004. Click here for a PDF of the full print magazine, which also includes interviews with Saul Williams, The Crystal Method, DJ Dan and much more.)