What do Frank Sinatra, Laidback Luke, mix CDs and short memory spans all have in common? Well, they all feature in this interview with Sharam, best known to most as one half of the infamous duo Deep Dish. Pulse's Morgan Richards spoke with the veteran DJ and producer via phone from his home in Washington DC this week and discovered that, much like one of his musical idols Frank Sinatra, he still prefers to do things his own way.
Pulse: Hey Sharam! What are you up to at the moment? Sharam: I’m in DC, in the studio, wrapping up my new single and a remix. I’m in town for another three days, and then I’ll be heading over to you guys. I’m going to Miami, Ibiza and then straight to Australia. But I’m gonna wrap up some music before I get on the road.
Cool, can you tell us a bit more about what you're working on? I’m working on a new single called "My Way". And then I’m doing a remix for somebody… I cannot really say who it is [Laughs.] It's a secret project, but everybody will find out soon enough. I maybe do one remix a year. I don't release a lot of remixes, unless the tracks are really amazing. And this is one of those.
When you say "My Way" - is there any Frank Sinatra influence there? [Laughs] No, but you know what, it could be. It has nothing to do with that song, it just happened to be that name. But it's funny you say that, because I have thought about that. I’m a big Sinatra fan. I mean, who isn't? Everybody in the world is. But when I was mixing it that song popped into my head. It was actually funny.
Is that something you feel you can say about your musical career thus far? That particular line: "I did things my way"? Well actually, it could become a sorta funny statement song. I mean, it is like that. I never paid that much attention to trends. I just get inspired to do my own thing and I just pursue whatever inspires me. It's funny, I was checking my Twitter account and there's a couple of people in the industry who were sorta going at it and one of them happens to be Laidback Luke. It's funny, because people think he's basically toured the world for the past five, six years with the music he's produced. I don't think many people realise he was making records in '95 on a label called Touché, which was one of the greatest labels of all time.
But this industry is funny. Everybody jumps on a bandwagon, saying, what's going on today? The music industry doesn't do a good job of recognising who the players are. They jump on a bandwagon of the whole "techno legends" and that's it. Nobody ever talks about other people who contributed over the years. And [Laidback Luke] happened to be one of them, and back in the day, we used to play a lot of his tracks, and a lot of stuff off Touché, from those guys on Touché, Dobre and Jamez and Zki. Of course they had many different names: Chocolate Puma, Trancesetters, Good Men; they had so many names on there. But no one even talks about that crew, and they contributed so much to our scene and nobody, not even journalists, realise who they are. It's kinda sad. But you can move forward upon a foundation, like, move forward and not pay any attention to that stuff, and that's what I try to do. Because you can easily get hung up on what you did in the past, but you know... people's attention span is very short so you've gotta constantly reinvent yourself and put new music out there. [You have to] showcase to only the new generation but also the older generation who have a short memory span for, you know, what you're about, who you are, and what you can do.
Do you think this "short memory span" is worse with electronic music? Say, compared to rock, or other genres? I think all genres in music do it. I mean, how many bands do you know from the 90s or even early 2000s that no-one ever talks about? There's so many bands that were huge for a year or two, then everybody forgets about them. It's the nature of the beat, it's the nature of our rhythms. You've gotta just live with it.
You mentioned earlier that you pursue what inspires you in music. Tell us more about what exactly inspires you. I truly love what I’ve been blessed to be involved with. Electronic music, dance music, house music, techno...whatever they call it these days. I try to do my homework, not because I have to but because I love to, I want to. So I keep my ears to the ground, keep hearing what everyone else is doing and what records are good. As a DJ I have to do that, because I always want to play the best music that I can. Music that inspires me will eventually inspire people. So my drive comes from just listening to all kinds of music, particularly dance music. Just seeing how everybody's evolving, how everybody's doing different things, it's like, I get inspired by a lot of people. And the thought of the people I have inspired a bit a few years back - it comes full circle. I like that, because it's sort of evolving. That's where I get my inspiration, from all kinds of music. I mean, you mentioned Frank Sinatra's "My Way". Those songs have inspired me, indirectly. Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Patsy Cline - I actually used one of her songs on my single with Kid Cudi a few years back. So whichever way inspiration is going to hit you, how are you going to transform and translate that into the music that you're constantly making? I try to keep an open mind, basically, throughout all of it.
What's the current status of Deep Dish? I mean, things with you and Ali? Well, you know, we're fine. We're doing our own thing. We've always wanted to establish ourselves as individual artists and we got to a point where we couldn't really accomplish anything more. So we decided to give it a break and pursue our solo paths and discover what we can do as individual artists. Just move forward that way.
And has that been good for you creatively? Yeah, everything you do, you sort of come across a point where you're like, oh man, why am I doing this? By the same token, when things go well, you're like, it's fantasic and I’m glad I did it. It's all an evolution and a journey that you go through. There's so many things you learn. That's the whole idea, to be able to expand as an artist and do different things. And with Deep Dish, well...from day one, everybody wants a label; you're this, you're that, you've gotta do this, you've gotta do that. And it seems that everybody tries to figure us out, and we've always got to be doing something different. I’m a firm believer in that once people figure you out, you lose the mystique. You have to constantly evolve. And when they figure it out, they expect things from you. And that may not be in line with what your inspiration is. I personally have fallen into that trap, and it's not good. When you do something succesfull, everybody wants the same thing from you. It's very easy to cash in on that. But that will mean you have a short career. And I was never interested in cashing in fast. I’ve always wanted to be more interesting, for me.
Thanks for your time, Sharam. Is there anything you'd like to add? Well, I’m happy I’m able to come back to Australia. I’ve got this new compilation album, Night & Day, that's coming out...
Oh yeah, that's what we haven't talked about! I did have a question about that. Tell us a bit about the idea behind Night & Day. It's my new project and it basically showcases the two sides...I mean, there's many different sides to what I do, but as far as DJing and production, it showcases the two different sides of me. Back in the day, you could put them all together and everything was fine. Nowadays, people have to label you; you're either this kind of an artist or that kind of an artist. And I wanted to do two different CDs with two different kinds of music but have them able to coexist together, under one roof. The night side is a more vocal, sing-along, more melodic type of vibe, more like a night vibe, while the day CD is more like a constant groove of more deep house, techno, techy sort of… there's so many different names these days, I don't want to confuse myself. But it's all about a constant groove. It's more rooted in my beginning in the early days of house music and techno. So these are two different things I DJ in. A lot of times I combine them together throughout long sets, but in this album I put them next to each other as individual CDs. I wanted them both to be under one roof. If somebody "gets" one part, they should get educated about the other part as well.
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