Sharam Pays Homage to '80s Warehouses on "Retroactive," Out Today [Interview]

June 10, 2016 -

Milli Encarnacion

Sharam's latest offering, Retroactive, releases today on his own label, Yoshitoshi Recordings. Its an eclectic record with sounds stemming from house, techno, new wave, and more, all enveloped by addictive synths. But the independent artist initially had different plans for the album until just a few weeks ago. The Grammy-winning producer, who is one half of the monumental duo Deep Dish, took the time to speak with us by email about what inspired him to change the album's name at the last minute, the connection behind Retroactive and his musical upbringing, and his thoughts on Washington, D.C.'s blossoming dance music scene.

DB: So it was a trippy dream that led to an epiphany, and then you decided to rename your album to "Retroactive." It was first titled "A Warehouse." What made you decide on "A Warehouse" in the first place?

Sharam: Both names come from the same place actually - my early influences. I attended a lot of warehouse parties and early raves and clubs that had that vibe and the sound stayed with me throughout the years. So "A Warehouse" was meant to be the place that I discovered and fell in love with the style of music that I ended, up playing and being influenced by.

How did your label react to the last-minute change?

Well, I own the label so the reaction was positive. LOL! The guys that run Yoshitoshi were nervous at first about it, but I convinced them that it was important and in the long term it wouldn’t change anything. I hate "what ifs." I didn’t want to wake up one day and say what if I changed the name, so I knew I had to make it work. Also, releasing the record as an independent gives you more freedom to make and execute decisions that you probably couldn’t do on a major. 


You said in an interview with DJ Mag that you like to take a conceptual approach to albums. What is the concept behind "Retroactive"?

Everything on Retroactive is through the prism of a warehouse in the late 80s early 90s. You will hear a "disco" record (one influenced by Giorgio Moroder) next to a frenzied house record, followed by a heavily synthesized techno record, and it is all seamless. The visuals for this album are designed to impart that retro feeling. It has one leg in the past and one leg in the future.

You mentioned to us that the album, in your words, is "a retrospective of the early influences that I gained from attending and DJing underground parties in DC and NY." What artists were you listening to the most? I'm enjoying the new-wave influence that's evident in some of the tracks, such as "Gypsi."

I wasn’t around during the disco years but I played and listened to a lot of house records that sampled old disco records. "Gypsi" is a nod to those records but with a modern, almost techno, influence. I wasn’t a new waver but bands like New Order, Depeche Mode, Erasure (and Yazz), and a few of The Cure’s records were very influential for me. A track like "Blind" takes its cues from those records in a way. I can probably pinpoint the specific influences on each track and they all go back to records that stayed with me and helped create my musical DNA. 

[soundcloud url="" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

If you could collaborate with any of your major influences, dead or alive, who would it be?

I actually had my dreams come true by having Giorgio Moroder’s name appear next to mine on this album on "Crazi Flute." I can die happy. :o) I’ve been fortunate enough to make my dreams come true. I did a record with Patsy Cline (long time dream of mine) and added Kid Cudi to it for good measure. It was called "She Came Along." I’ve done a record penned by Chris Martin called "Fun." I did a record with Puff Daddy – actually two of them; one myself and one with Deep Dish. I’m doing okay in that department. 

Which track from "Retroactive" means the most to you? 

They all have their own unique story and they all collectively make the album. It’s like picking a favorite kid: not possible. 

The house and tech scene in DC seems to be experiencing a renaissance, with the opening of more music-focused clubs like Soundcheck, where you'll be playing on June 26. How does the scene now compare to how it was when you were just starting out?"

Its great to see that in DC, it wasn’t like that when we were coming up. The city’s musical outlets were very lopsided and it was very hard to hear good music. There were some great venues back then, and if you ask all the current club owners and promoters in the city you will find that those venues were the main influences for all of them. Same for the DJs. We are enjoying a healthy scene and it should be embraced. I am looking forward to playing Soundcheck for my good friend Pete Mutso. He’s one of those cats that came through the same clubs that I did back then, so he gets it.

Purchase Retroactive on iTunes. Stream the album on Soundcloud.

Follow Sharam: Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter

You Might Also Like

March 24, 2023
Black V Neck & Afrojack Tackle Imaginative House Track 'Oral Music'

"Oral Music," transmits listeners to a special place which is epic and all-it's own thanks to two talented names in […]

Read More
March 22, 2023
Pagu Drops First Release Of 2023 In 'Still Her Calling'

Florida's own Pagu is back at it again with a song and video for his first release of the year […]

Read More
March 16, 2023
Bloom Featuring Random Rab at House of Yes

This Friday, Random Rab, Oba+Flip, and Baby Wolf take over House of Yes for Bloom, a dance party of floral fantasy and […]

Read More

Leave a Reply

The Latest & Greatest in Music, Arts, & Culture