“Everyone on my team was completely freaked out and scared of it,” says DJ-producer Sam Spiegel in the latest installment of PRØHBTD Cities. “My manager quit because of it.”
What freaked his team out was his groundbreaking video for “Jihad Love Squad.” Spiegel made the track (featuring KRS-One) as part of the music duo N.A.S.A. with DJ Zegon of Brazil, and the 2015 video made the lyrical theme explicit. To quote The Daily Beast, “Can a song change the meaning of ‘jihad’?” Spiegel felt extremists had hijacked (no pun intended) the meaning of the word—i.e., “a spiritual struggle within oneself between good and evil”—and he wanted to recharacterize it as spreading peace and love.
His team feared the Muslim community would object, but those fears were unfounded. “It’s actually really positive for the Muslim community,” Spiegel explains, “and the Muslim community actually embraced it.”
Spiegel is a NYC native now living in Los Angeles. In addition to being a DJ and artist, Spiegel is a music producer and composer who’s worked with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Maroon 5, Ben Lee and major companies like Levi’s, Converse and ESPN, among many others. He scored films like Jackass 3D and Kevin Smith’s Cop Out and served as music director for Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark Tour, and he collaborated with his brother—film director Spike Jonze—on various products, including an Adidas commercial that paired Spiegel’s music and Karen O’s vocals.
In addition to talking about the “Jihad” video, Spiegel gives PRØHBTD Cities a look inside his studio, reveals what famous artist used to live in the building and discusses what’s coming next.