Behind the Beat: Sharam
As 2016 comes to a close, I started to look back at the many, many interviews I did this year. I dug this one up out of my archives. Quite a while back I chatted with the one and only, Sharam. He was on tour for his latest album ‘Retroactive’ (which is one of my favorite albums out this year). He discusses the inspiration for the album, dance music in his hometown of Washington, D.C. and much more as he went ‘Behind the Beat’.
Only The Beat: Let’s start with your new album ‘Retroactive’. Personally, I am a big fan of ‘A Warehouse’ and ‘Morning Glory’. How long was this in the works? What can listeners expect and what is the inspiration behind it?
Sharam: The inspiration for the album is from my experiences growing up and playing in the Washington, DC scene of the 90s. It comes from my love for the music of the time period, of people like Giorgio Moroder; of the new wave, Italo-Disco, and of course house and techno from back in the day. I tried to pair those sounds and influences with what influences me today, bringing past and future together retroactively. ‘A Warehouse’ is a track designed for a warehouse as the name suggests. I’m always fascinated with basslines and this one relies on a heavy, 90s-style technotronic-ish bassline to create mayhem. ‘Morning Glory,’ a collaboration with Chance Caspian is also a throwback track, this time to the Korg M1 perc-organ sound that so many of those 90s records used. I just updated it with some influences from today.
OTB: Having listened to ‘Retroactive’ I really enjoyed what seemed to be a blend of genres. It seems like it has a little bit of everything. What was the creative process in producing some of those tracks?
S: I try not to limit myself creatively, and given that I have so many influences I wanted each track to be fully realized via a particular inspiration – be it from the past or present. Some were done a few years ago and I had to update them, but I couldn’t because the sessions were lost in translation, so I kept them as is. Others were recently concocted. All the tracks have been tried and tested on dance floors, which is the ultimate test for me.
Sharam – Retrtoactive
OTB: You are hitting the road in North America on a pretty, massive tour. Is there one city on this tour that you were or are particularly excited to play? What can the fans expect from this tour versus previous tours?
S: Well, the North American part of the tour just ended. I’m now off to Europe for some dates. Will do a couple more make up dates in Toronto and San Antonio before heading to South America. The tour overall was amazing. I had a great time and it was so therapeutic to get back in front of the fans in every corner of US and Canada – particularly the smaller markets that I don’t visit often.
OTB: What is the driving force behind what you do as a producer/DJ?
S: The pure love of it really. And pushing things forward. I hate staying stagnant, so I’m constantly trying new things and experimenting with merging genres. When it works it’s really rewarding and inspirational, which enables me to continue.
OTB: Influencers when it comes to music – who would you say has been the biggest in your career?
S: There are so many. Music goes through phases and stars come and go. I focus on the best of what they bring and take what I can from them in terms of getting influenced. When I doubt I always refer to drum n’ bass records. For some reason those producers are always leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else.
OTB: Favorite food and where can we get it?
S: Persian food and you can get it at Persian restaurants. Yelp away! :o)
OTB: The D.C. dance music scene continues to grow. What have you seen change over the years? And where would like to see it go?
S: D.C. is a cosmopolitan city, so its music scene is very rich and varied. Over the past few years a lot of great clubs have opened up with a strong focus on supporting underground scenes. These are places like U Street Music Hall, Flash and more recently Soundcheck. The more acts that are able to come through the city from different genres and styles, the richer the scene will become – musically speaking.
OTB: There are a ton of young producers out there right now. If you had any advice to give them, what would it be? Is there anyone you have listened to recently that we should keep an eye on?
S: I always use the Apple mantra: Think Different. So many people are out there making or trying to make music. What will set you apart from the pack? Doing something different. It’s hard to achieve true originality today, but it is definitely possible.
When I’m intrigued by an artist I usually reach out to them with a remix opportunity or to sign some originals for Yoshitoshi. One look at our recent releases will tell you who is being awesome in my world. You can go back that way and you will find a who’s who of the music industry, except we usually get them on the label first.
OTB: What tracks or artists are you currently listening to?
S: I listen to so much stuff. Right now as I write this I’m on my way to Bulgaria and I got a bunch of great promos. Here is a screenshot. :o)
Connect with Sharam
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