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Sharam interview

Ex-Deep Dish man talks about new single and album

Recruiting the vocal talents of Anousheh, ex-Deep Dish man Sharam makes his bid for a summer anthem with ‘Fun’. A bittersweet lament for fondly remembered love (yep, we’ve all been then), the superb video features a Bullitt style car chase around the streets of San Francisco.

We caught up with him to talk about touring Brazil, his forthcoming new album and the influence of Pink Floyd.

You've recently toured Brazil and we know you're very popular there! What's the state of Brazil's club scene like in your opinion?
“It’s very healthy. Brazil right now is one of the top regions in the world in terms of awareness and support for electronic music and DJs. A majority of the club promoters and owners GET IT and bring in a variety of acts which helps in educating the crowd. Brazil’s club scene, I’m happy to say, is not a ‘too cool for school’ or ‘this artist doesn’t sell tables’ territory. They are very open-minded and the crowds are well educated in music and have a variety of options to choose from – which makes their scene very healthy.”

How will your forthcoming album 'Speed' be different from 2009's ‘Get Wild’?
“The new album is a continuation of my musical evolvement. The difference is in the concept. I like to take a conceptual approach to albums, where the theme and the visuals combined with the music can tell you a new or different story. ‘Get Wild’ was inspired by Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western. Not necessarily musically, although some of the songs were inspired by Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks to those flicks. The music was very dramatic and emotionally driven with some of the tracks having a hint of country western/Morricone vibe to them. The new album’s look and feel is inspired by ‘60s/’70s American muscle cars and ‘70s European race cars a la Le Mans with Steve McQueen. The tracks are more energetic with a vintage feel to them. Of course I’m just BS-ing you guys. I’m just making tracks that I love to make with some added horsepower. “

Your new single 'Fun' is a dance track with pop appeal. What inspired you to go in a more pop-oriented direction?
“The song and melodies were the appealing part to me. If it turned out to be more poppy, that’s totally coincidental. I don’t think that way. I make tracks that I enjoy and can play in my sets, tracks with a storyline, tracks with emotional appeal, tracks with that x-factor. Where it ends up falling in the genre poll doesn’t really concern me. I don’t allow the trend of the day to limit my creativity. We go where we go.”

The video for 'Fun' is a nod to Bullitt featuring the streets of San Fransico. Are you a bit of a petrol head like Steve McQueen was?
“As the name of the album suggests, cars, particularly cars from the late ‘60s/early ‘70s play a great role with Steve McQueen being the central part of that inspiration, via his Bullitt and Le Mans movies. I’ve always been a car guy, I love watching movies from that era. The car-spotting part provides a nice background story. I’ve always tried to feature vintage cars in the videos I’m involved with when possible. The videos for ‘Flashdance’, ‘Say Hello’, ‘Sacramento’ and ‘PATT’ all had vintage cars in them. For the ‘Fun’ video I wanted to do something a little bigger to tie it to the album’s theme so remaking the famous Bullitt chase scene appealed to me greatly. I knew it was going to be a huge challenge pulling it off with budget restrictions that are the norm these days from an independent dance artist perspective but I’m happy we could pull it off keeping the integrity of the original chase in place. We shot the video street-by-street following the path of the original chase in Bullitt. Of course we couldn’t do the end’s car explosion, not to mention a ten minute chase, so we had to creatively cut the whole thing short and keep it under four minutes.”

Going solo, you developed a distinct sound from your Deep Dish partner Ali 'Dubfire' Shirazinia but do you ever miss that collaborative relationship in the studio?
“My approach to making music is inspiration and influence driven. I tend to experiment with all kinds of stuff and allow myself to draw inspiration from them in the context of that moment. I did a track called ‘Wall.E’ on the Get Wild album. It was inspired by the famous Pixar movie. The robots had a unique soundtrack to their movements. It was this futuristic sound – very dark and grungy. So that became the central focus. The track ended being this twisted tech-house sounding thing. Then on the opposite side I experiment with old country and western style singing of Patsy Cline for the ‘She Came Along’ track I did with Kid Cudi. I just run with the ideas. The objective is to push the boundaries and test the limits of your creativity. With Deep Dish it was pretty much the same approach where you draw from your influences and inspirations, except you have another person that you can bounce ideas off of, and there is a value in that. If the idea is liked then you collectively build on it, if it’s not liked, you sort of hand it over to the other guy and have him do his thing and see where it ends up. If you feel strongly about something you push for it and vice a versa. So having that ying to your yang makes things very interesting. We did that together for a long time and felt like we needed a break from it to see what we’re made of on our own – both as producers and DJs.”

Was there any kind of house music scene in D.C. when you were growing up there? Or did you feel more like an ambassador for the genre?
“The DC scene was very interesting back then in terms of diversity. DC has a good mixture of different races and cultures. So the music that was coming through and being played was varied and most of the parties mixed things up to appeal to everyone. There was all this NY, Chicago and Baltimore soulful house stuff coming through. From the other end we had DJs playing the harder, more cutting-edge techno that came from Detroit and later on from Belgium and England. Add to this mixture a good amount of what we now call Bling Bling music – more euro pop stuff - and you end up with a musical smoothie full of flavor. There also was a healthy hip-hop, rare grooves and acid jazz scene. So we ended up soaking up all that, the combination of which sort of became our sound that we exported to the rest of the world. No one knew what that sound was. No one came up with a name for it, but I think it was the DC sound.”

Who are your top musical influences? We saw a video of you busting out a bit of Pink Floyd at Green Valley so wonder if you have a taste for a bit of prog rock.

“I was heavily into Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Asia all those innovative and progressive ‘70s/early ‘80s rock bands. Later on it was Depeche Mode, New Order, Yaz/Erasure and The Cars. Of course that’s one side of it. The other side of was all the soulful stuff like Jackson 5, particularly early Michael Jackson, and Boney M. When I moved to America I spent all my money and all my time catching up with all this amazing music that I didn’t have access to in Iran post-revolution. Of course when I discovered house music in ‘87, it was all over. I knew where I needed to focus on for the rest of my life.” 

Sharam featuring Anousheh ‘Fun’ is out now on 3 Beat Records