Sharam: The TVD Interview and Ticket Giveaway

Continuing our Home Sweet Home DC spotlight this week, we have Sharam Tayebi, AKA DJ Sharam, a DC DJ with a very busy schedule. In addition to running his DC-based recording studio/record label Yoshitoshi Recordings and has performed as one half of DJ duo Deep Dish, he also performs solo DJ sets all around the world and has worked with with big names like Kid Cudi and Chris Martin of Coldplay.

TVD got in touch with the Grammy award-winning artist via email this week as he was performing in Brazil. We discussed his DJ career, his love of DC, and the recent influence of muscle cars on his latest releases.

How long have you been DJing? What are some of the more memorable moments from early in your DJing career?

I’ve been DJing as long as I can remember. I used to cut cassette tapes together with a double deck player and a Walkman as a kid in Iran, then we moved to the US and I discovered the whole vinyl and mixer thing, and I’ve been DJing ever since. At first we were throwing school parties just so that I could get a chance to DJ and play my records for a live audience. I was then able to secure random gigs here and there, which made me very happy.

My best memory was dropping Lil Louis “French Kiss” at a Rock & Roll/R&B club called Quicksilver where I had to drop Guns N Roses next to Levert and Guy and stuff like that. I had just gotten a copy of it before the record became huge and was very excited to play it. So when I dropped it, the entire club stopped and looked at me in shock. They didn’t know what to do. Everyone then left the dance floor, and of course they never called me back for another gig. This became a regular thing with me for a while.

Sharam | Fun (FTDK Radio Mix)

How interactive is your recording process when you work with big name artists like Kid Cudi and Chris Martin of Coldplay? Do you go into the studio together, or do you exchange mixes/lyrics/beats digitally?

Usually everything I do starts from an idea or inspiration. Once I feel good about it, I circulate it to whomever. I prefer not have too much interaction with the people I’m collaborating with at first.

1. I get star struck and can’t concentrate if they’re too big.
2. I feel like I need to be able to think without having to worry about what others think of what I’m planning—I know the end result in my head, but not everyone sees that, so I keep the process to myself until I’m done as the project takes on many shapes and forms before it’s done. That’s how I can be most creative.

Your music crosses over into a lot of different genres, but with which one do you feel most comfortable? Do you have a stand-by that you always enjoy mixing and playing?

I have a very varied range of influences, so I can get with all kinds of music, and I experiment a lot with combining different genres and pushing things to achieve something new—as a DJ and as a producer. For me, DJing and producing go hand in hand. Behind the decks with an audience in front of me is where I fine-tune my projects and come up with changes and different ideas. They both are integral parts of my process.

Do you mix digitally or with real vinyl, or both? Why do you prefer the method that you use?

Of course, like many DJs, I was a huge vinyl junkie. But over the years as technology progressed, it became easier to carry your music on CDs and then on your laptop via Traktor. My back feels a lot better as I don’t have to carry those heavy vinyl cases with me all over the world so that’s a huge plus, but I really miss the days where you HAD to be selective with your record box and could only take music that you knew you wanted to play—there was only so much room.

It was impossible to take more than two crates half way across the world so you constantly “cleaned” and “updated” your inbox per se. Now you get to carry everything with you all the time, which is great in its own sense, but it means you have to have a memory of an elephant to remember songs by name (rather than by looking at a vinyl label and knowing instantly what it was and what it stood for).

Sharam | Sharam’s Wildcast #48

Talk about working with Deep Dish. How does the music of Deep Dish differ from that of your solo work?

With Deep Dish there was always a ying to a yang. You always have that other person that you trust, to give you feedback or to take over the project when you get stuck. Being solo, you have to be your own motivator and your own critic. When things work out, it’s great, but when you get stuck, it can be frustrating. Overall, the process for me is always the same. Just stick to what is inspiring you, no matter how you come across it, and be as educated as possible with the music that’s currently out there—making a dent.

What first brought you to Washington DC? What do you like about DC?

Family. I’ve always loved DC. Although I spend alot of time outside of DC, I will always call DC home and can’t imagine being anywhere else for long periods of time.

You travel all over the world for DJ sets and performances; what makes you keep DC as your home base, instead of somewhere else?

Family, friends, and the fact that I can escape.

What is your favorite venue to perform at in DC? Your favorite record store to buy new vinyl?

I like playing at Lima, and this week I’m going to play at Josephine for the first time. My good friend Pete Kalamoutsos and his partner Antonis have done an amazing job over the years promoting music in the DC area, and these clubs, along with Glow at Fur, are the fruits of their relentless labor.

As for vinyl, we had our own vinyl shop for a few years in Georgetown called Yoshitoshi Shop. I still have a huge record collection, but I can’t say that I buy vinyl regularly anymore. Growing up, 12″ Dance Records in Dupont Circle was my mecca for finding Vinyl. Later on it was Vinyl Mania in New York. I really miss going to a record store and getting lost in it.

Tell me about what you like about muscle cars. Why are they the inspiration for your latest release?

They just look so damned bad ass! And they were made to go fast and last long. As a kid I was always fascinated with cars, ‘specially American cars. My favorite car as a kid was 1971 Camaro SS; I’m still looking for one in great condition.

I like to connect my music projects to a concept, and cars was one of those concepts, so I wanted to create a world within a world—and for the upcoming album it’s muscle cars. My previous album Get Wild was about Spaghetti Westerns and the soundtracks to those classic Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda movies. I just like to keep things fresh for myself. I tend to get bored very easily.

Sharam | Live at Warung Beach Club (Promo Mix)

What else is coming up for you?

My first compilation album in five years came out a couple of weeks ago. It’s a live recording that was done in Brazil at one of the most amazing clubs in the world called Warung Beach Club. The album is a true representation of my DJing style—over a very long set.

Nowadays with how Electronic Music has evolved at clubs, people are used to the DJ playing hit after hit after hit—creating a Music ADD Nation. DJs (big and small) are afraid if they don’t do that, then people won’t respond. Then you have the opposite side where everything is underground and people go for the journey. I’m in the middle of that. I like to take people on a long journey, but I also like to throw in some vocal flavors in the middle.

So on this [album], people can experience that and relive what took place at Warung in Brazil. We put three hours of the set (from a ten hour set) into this album. It includes some new cuts that I have done recently as well as a lot of new releases from Yoshitoshi and many of my favorite tracks that I’m still playing. I’m very proud of it. So I will be promoting that in the next few months until my new artist album Speed is ready for release.

Sharam will be back in DC performing at Glow at Josephine Nightclub this Friday, November 4th. To win a pair of tickets, tell us in the comments below, your favorite DJ. Mine would be Timbaland, just because he is so versatile as a DJ and producer. The winner will be chosen on Friday at noon and must confirm the tickets via email by 3pm that day.

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