JoonBug Interview: Sharam Does It His Own Way
Monday, July 30th, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Jaime Sloane
Sharam Does It His Own Way
Our exclusive interview with the veteran producer about his new album release, his sound diversity and his ability to remain relevant.
How do you successfully win a Grammy and appease both mainstream and underground fans without selling out? Just ask Sharam, the Iranian-American progressive house DJ who’s a firm believer in following his creative flow wherever it may lead.
One half of the former electro-duo Deep Dish, Sharam stands out as a producer who transcends genre-boundaries with ease as evidenced with his new compilation “Night and Day.” Joonbug had a chance to chat with the industry veteran and hear all about his newest releases, his diversity of sound, and his ability to remain at the top of the uber-competitive electronic music scene.
Jaime Sloane: You’re in the midst of a worldwide tour, how’s that going?
Sharam: Fantastic. I’m sort of drifting back and forth between the US and Europe. It’s not normally like that, but it’s summertime and DJs always end up with a few dates in Ibiza. And then I have my dates in America, it’s a lot of back and forth.
Jaime Sloane: I actually wanted to ask you about your Ibiza stops. Why do you think there has been such a sudden resurge of interest in the city, and how long do you think this wave of electronic music interest will power the island?
Sharam: It really is the center of dance music and it remains that, and becomes stronger as the industry grows. Obviously with the growth Ibiza becomes more of a focal point. It’s sort of like a fraternity of all of the players in the industry, they all end up playing there during the three-month season.
I know a lot of records are sort of made and blown up there, a lot of careers are made there. To really have something like that, something the entire industry feeds off of, makes it become even more important than it was. Right now I think it’s at its height.
Jaime Sloane: Your two-disc mix compilation Night & Day was released this month, congratulations! What inspired you to combine two completely polarized themes and what was the objective behind the album?
Sharam: For me, my sense of music has always been a polarizing one. I just thought I’ll bring the polarization to the forefront and to the masses. To me, it makes no sense why there’s such diversity in music, yet there’s such divide in music. I wanted to basically showcase that it doesn’t need to be that way – we can coexist together, as long as the quality is high caliber, it’s okay to have both.
I personally get inspired by all kinds of music. I listen to all kinds of music and DJs. I make it a point when I’m in Ibiza to go to all different kinds of venues and see different DJs. I go see my friends, see what they’re up to, see what’s inspiring them, and that in turn inspires me, and I bring that to my music. That’s basically what I wanted to showcase.
Like I said I’m a big fan of music, and there’s all kinds of it. In my DJ sets I cover the whole gamut throughout the night. But it really all depends on the venue you’re at. Sometimes you play more of the Day side of the CD, sometimes it’s the Night side of the CD. I love music and respect it all equally, and with this CD I wanted to showcase that you can exist together, even if it has to be separated on two discs.
Jaime Sloane: How does the album differ from your last compilation “Live at Warung Beach Brasil?”
Sharam: If you were going to take Night and Day and combine it into one compilation, you’d get what I play in my live set. And my Warung CD was my live set, that was a recorded live set from the club. It was a 12 hour set and I took about 3 hours of it that I thought well represented what I do and what I did at the club.
It was a live recording which I’ve never done before. It was aired initially on BBC and I got such positive feedback from it that I said, “You know what? Why not just take this to the masses as an album.”
So that one was all organic, what I would do at a club, while this one is what I wanted an album to sound like. It still represents what I do as a DJ but it’s a studio album.
Jaime Sloane: I wanted to ask you about that diversity of sound. How do you manage to straddle producing electro-underground tracks with clubby upbeat sounds?
Sharam: I look at it as an opportunity to get inspired to do something new. It’s a clean canvas. I basically get a clean canvas and think about what I’m trying to do and what’s inspiring me at that moment in time. I let the creativity take over and I try not to limit myself. I don’t think, “Oh the song is becoming so this way, or too that way, or too underground, or too deep, or too commercial or what.” I don’t let any of that stuff block my creativity and I just go for it. Wherever the music is supposed to go, it wants to go, I let it.
That’s why I come up with such varied results. It confuses a lot of people because somebody may like one song of mine and they want something similar because that’s what people are used to. They’re used to following an artist and everything sounding the same. With me, they don’t know what they’re going to get. It’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.
Jaime Sloane: You’re a major industry veteran, with over 20 years working with electronic music. What’s your secret to remaining at the top of the game, especially with today’s massive influx of new DJs?
Sharam: For me, I love what I do so I try not to gauge what I do by the trends going on around me. I get inspired by everything obviously, but I sort of just do my own thing and I’ve been fortunate enough that what I’ve been doing has been received well.
I don’t play the trend game and I don’t play the stardom game. When you do that, when something is hot, your star rises. But when the thing is not hot, everybody forgets about you. I’ve sort of been doing the opposite of that and making my own trends if you will. I think that might have something to do with why I’ve been around for so long.
But again, quality is of the utmost importance to me, and not selling out. People confuse the term selling out. If you make an album that’s received well and becomes successful, that doesn’t mean you sold out, it just means more people liked your record. But if you do things because something is popular or everybody’s on the bandwagon, and you do that to cash in, then you’re selling out.
I’ve never done that, I’ve always tried to stay true to what I believe and what I want to achieve as an artist. And I never want to repeat myself. For me, the worst thing you can do in this business is repeat yourself. You have to always be moving forward.
Jaime Sloane: Now that you’ve released your compilation, what’s next for 2012?
Sharam: I’ve been working on a lot of music so I’m hoping to get a lot of that stuff out. I have a new singe that’s just out called “Radio G” then I have another single called “My Way” that’s coming out and a whole bunch of new stuff. Hopefully I can put it all together in an album format and get it out next year. I’m also toying around with the idea of another compilation because “Night and Day” has been received so well. It made me think about doing it again and continuing the series of showcasing the next chapter of where my style is going as a DJ and a producer.