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Ramallah-based DJ, producer and Exist festival co-founder ODDZ, dies

Odai Masri had been a key figure in the Palestinian electronic music scene since 2006 and was recently suffering from a double-ear infection that threatened his ability to hear

Ramallah-based DJ, producer and Exist festival co-founder ODDZ, dies
Credit: Ashraf Dowani

ODDZ, Palestinian artist and co-founder of Exist festival, has died.

Istanbul-based community station ROOT, where the DJ and producer, real name Odai Masri, was a resident, shared the news on 30th June via Instagram. "Hard to find words to describe this… our friend, resident, brother, one of the closest people to Root community has left us today", they wrote. "We were your backbone and we will always carry your fight. Rest well beautiful soul." Masri's age and a cause of death have not been confirmed.

Masri had been a key figure in the Ramallah electronic music scene since 2006, Root said, through putting on parties and releasing records to further the local underground scene. He co-founded Exist festival in 2019, and previously ran Harara Records, which claims to be "Palestine's first electronic music label", and Bethlehem-based station Radio Nard. He also collaborated with Italian Producer Francesco Presotto, AKA Soulless, as ANTS. In 2018, released a joint EP with Bonime called 'Acid Martire'. 

In August 2022, Masri shared a vulnerable post on Instagram describing being diagnosed with a serious ear infection that harmed both of his ear drums, and how that impacted his mental health as a musician. "As per the doctor's reviews, I had to stop exposing my ears to loud/heavy sounds", he wrote. "I had to make one of the toughest decisions I've ever taken, to stay away from what I love the most, my safe space and the thing that shaped me into who I am. Of course there is a way to fix both of my ears, which is an operation that I can't afford without health insurance. That left me with a broken heart."

This past March, promoter Kaos London organised a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Masri's treatment. "The doctors have informed Odai that if the surgery is not performed as soon as possible, the perpetual infection will permanently damage the ear drum and result in deafness", Kaos said in the campaign. At the time, Masri was living in Ammam, Jordan, and was "not able to return to Palestine without facing charges against him by the Israeli government due to his being a Palestinian Rights Activist." As he was staying in Jordan undocumented, he did not have the right to work and gain health insurance. The campaign raised more than £400 over their goal of £3,000 for Masri. 

In late June, Masri posted a heartfelt update on Instagram: "For the past three months I was fully focused on my mental and physical health recovery." He thanked those close to him for supporting him through his struggles. "The last three years was heavy, very heavy that I always had thoughts to give up… But I was blessed and lucky enough to have my family, friends and the community supporting my ass", he wrote. "People that I will be forever and ever thankful for, those who’ve always been there for me, lifting me up and never letting me down."

Read Root's tribute, and watch ODDZ's 2018 Boiler Room set below.