Call & Response: Sharam

DJ/producer Sharam is one half of Deep Dish, (arguably) the most high profile American underground dance duo of all time. When I was big into the rave scene 10 years ago, Deep Dish were the superstars -- the ones who played the biggest parties and released the biggest mix CD compilations.

After 15 years at the top of the scene (which included a Grammy award), Sharam Tayebi and his partner Ali Shirazinia went their separate ways. Ali returned to the underground and became Dubfire -- one of the top techno DJ/producers right now, while Sharam turned to more mainstream club music. His new album Get Wild fuses pop and dance together in some intriguing ways. His new single "She Came Along" features Kid Cudi on the mic and a Patsy Cline sample.

I really like the western-themed video for that single, which features a young cowboy and a dangerous young lady (catch it after the jump). I spoke to Sharam about Toronto, his new single, using new DJ technology and the Guvernment, where he's DJing tomorrow night.

blogTO: You've been playing Toronto for years. How does it compare to playing in other North American cities?

Sharam: Toronto has always been a favourite of mine. It seems the crowds in Toronto have been trapped in a pressure cooker, and they tend to explode and unleash their energy at the club. It's always super fun to play in TO.

I really like "She Came Along". What inspired you to use a Patsy Cline sample? Does the original song have any personal significance to you?

There are two things that inspired me to do this:

1) Patsy Cline is one of the greatest and most timeless voices of all time, so I always wondered what her voice would sound like in a club with house beats and a thick bassline around it.

2) I get bored very easily, so I am always pushing myself to try something different in the studio or when I DJ -- something unexpected. So the two collided and the result is "She Came Along." Of course it got even more interesting when I ended up having Kid Cudi on top of it.

How did Kid Cudi get involved?

I sent him the track and he really dug it and thought it was different. I was very happy that he got it. Not a lot of people would get something like that, and that's a testament to his outside-the-box thinking, which is propelling him forward right now. We can never have enough open-minded artists like that.

Is there any studio gear that's crucial for a "Sharam track"?

I'm a firm believer in the mantra that it's not the equipment, it's what you do with it. Equipment in the studio is like the people in an organization. If you recognize talent and put people in the right position, they'll do wonders for you. But even if you get the best talent out there and put them in the wrong position, or don't know how to use them, no matter how good they are, they won't be able help you.

What's your DJ set up?

I use Traktor along with Pioneer DVJs which I run the visuals/videos that I made for the tracks on Get Wild through.

What's your opinion on the debate between digital DJ software versus vinyl or CDs?

It really doesn't matter what you are spinning as long as you're spinning it well. The equipment as a DJ or as a producer is ultimately there to help you tell your story. The core of your story shouldn't change if you are using CDs, vinyl or the latest technology like Traktor or Abelton. Of course technology makes things more convenient and opens new doors to be creative with, and that is something I try to embrace. 

Would you say it's easier or harder for an electronic DJ/producer to break through compared to when you were starting out?

Of course electronic music is a lot more popular now than it was 5, 10, 20 years ago. And that growth is going to continue. But if you have the talent for it, can carve a niche for yourself and set your mind to it -- the sky is the limit. There is always room for innovative new talent in music.

What do you like best about visiting Toronto?

Amazing restaurants, amazing night life, great and friendly people. What else could you ask for?

Are they any places in Toronto you have to visit while you're in town?

Sotto Sotto is a spot that I've been to a lot, and its always an amazing experience. And of course, The Guvernment is as good as it gets when it comes to the clubbing experience. Even if I weren't DJing there, I would still make it a point to go there. There are also a lots of great Persian restaurants in TO, so I feel right at home. 

What are your favourite tracks of this decade?

Decade? I have a hard time picking my favorite records of the month! But if you really wanna know check out Global Underground Toronto, Global Underground Moscow and Global Underground Dubai as well as Yoshiesque Two -- you will have a glimpse of my favourite records of the decade. I also have a podcast series once a month called Wildcast, so that's another way to see what's ticking inside my head, musically speaking. 

Sharam w/ Mark Oliver
Saturday, November 28
The Guvernment
132 Queens Quay East
Doors: 10pm
Cover: $20, less with gueslist

Call & Response is a series of Q&A's featuring band/DJs from or playing in Toronto. Photo: SPG Music.

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