Happy Friday everybody, we have something wicked on tap for you all today, a kickass Exclusive mix and an awesome interview from Breakbeat Legend, Sharaz!
Originally born in Chicago but having moved to Florida to attend college, Sharaz is one of the first artists that influenced me to make the change from the 4/4 world into one that was broken.
Sharaz has been leaving his mark on the EDM scene for over 15 years now and he has worked with top artists from around the country, not to mention having been nominated for an IDMA Award in 2007. He has performed alongside legends like Richard "Humpty" Vision, Darude, The Crystal Method and Paul Okenfold and has been nominated several times as America's #1 Breakbeat DJ by BPM Magazine.
An experienced drummer with a rock background that is also heavily influenced by funk and Mo Town, Sharaz has recently begun to incorporate multiple genres into his Dj sets and productions including Electro House, Dubstep and Rocktronica.
Recently Sharaz has really been turning up the heat in the production department and I have been playing just about everyone of his latest releases on my radio shows, in my Live sets and using them in my promotional mixes. "It Doesn't Matter Where I'm From" is a personal favorite of mine that I just can't get enough of and his most current release, "Freakout", had a nice ride in the Beatport Top 100 Breaks just a few weeks ago.
Releasing his originals on his own label NineFourOne Media, Sharaz often has "Free Tune Friday's" where he will post up his newest track on Soundcloud and make it available for download to the first 1,000 lucky people. The downloads often max out within 24-48 hours, so make sure to follow him on Soundcloud so you don't miss out. After the 1,000 download limit is reached, you can purchase the tracks on Beatport or wherever else you get your digital music. The next "Free Tune Friday" from Sharaz is scheduled for April 13th, don't slack!
With over 35 records and 5 CDs released under his own label NineFourOne Media and a slew of bangers about to drop (most of which are in the mix we have below), you can expect big big things from Sharaz in the near future!
Recently signed to Sky Artist Management, if you are wondering what Sharaz is like Live, check out the incredible Exclusive sixty minute mix we have for you from Mr. Sharaz. Consisting of nothing but 100% Sharaz tunas, if this isn't the way to get your weekend started right, I don't know what is. Grab yourself the download, turn your speakers up and keep reading for the Kick It 12 - Sharaz Edition to see what makes him tick, Kick It!
The Kick It 12 - Sharaz Edition
1. – At what age did you first find yourself gravitating towards electronic music and who were some of the artists outside of Electronic music that influenced that?
I got into EDM n my mid 20's. Honestly I didn't pay too much attention before that because I've always been a rock-and-roll and Motown guy. Still am for the most part.
2. – What was your very first Album? How about CD?
My first album album?...hmmm...I think it was Boston's first record. Someone gave me a copy of that for my birthday when I was little and I remember it being used and all scratched up. As for my first CD I cannot even remember! My first EDM CD was DJ Hardware's “Trip Hop Acid Phunk”, though. That was a banger!
3. – How did you first get involved with the Electronic music culture and what was the first event that you attended?
Where I live, back in the mid 90's, a local club here would throw an electronic night on Thursdays. I started going because I thought the people were more interesting to hang out with. Got to like and understand the music in the meantime. That's how I guess it started.
4. – Where was your favorite gig that you have had to date?
I've had lots of them. I always enjoy playing in Los Angeles, though. I love that place and have a ton of friends out that way. I'd move out there if I wasn't such a pussy.
5. - Who have you been most proud to play alongside?
Afrika Bambaataa, Bad Boy Bill and Paul Oakenfold.
6. - Where would you most like to play that you have not yet?
Believe it or not, I have never been to Las Vegas. Not as a visitor and not as a DJ. Don't know what the place looks like except in photos.
7. - What is your favorite tune you have released?
Probably “Holdin' On” because it was kind of a different song for me. That one was nominated for an International Dance Music Award (IDMA) a few years back. I was up against Jamoriquai and Fedde Le Grande. Le Grande won.
8. - Who is your favorite EDM artist? How about outside of EDM?
In EDM that's a tough one because there are so many. Same outside of EDM. Elvis, The Beatles, The Doors, Marvin Gaye and almost all of the Motown artists were a huge influence on me growing up – and yes that includes early Michael Jackson. My mom was always listening to Diana Ross and the Supremes. I think the 1960s and the 1980s were watershed moments in popular musical history...I did get to experience the 80s as a kid but I only got to experience the 60s through its music. I started playing the drums at 12, banging on pillows with two sticks to Motown music.
9. - Who are some artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?
I'd really like to work with some producers outside of EDM. Maybe Dr. Luke. Cee Lo Green and Danger Mouse are two other guys I really admire. I like that whole Motown vibe they have going on. A lot of people will probably say this is cheesy but I'm really interested in how these guys go about the music creation process.
10. - What is your preferred software for producing? Hardware?
Ableton as of late. I've been through pretty much all of them and I am kind of stuck on Ableton because of the workflow. I have so much hardware I ended up having to put a good portion of it in storage. I have a couple of vintage Roland Jupiters, a few Junos, a TR 909, a few Access Virus synths, some old vocoders...I really don't use any of them anymore, I just collect and will buy stuff when I see it if it's a good deal. Vintage synths have been better investments than real estate for me. One hardware piece I do use are my Roland V-Drums...I will often produce my beats live using those and Native Instruments Kontakt.
11. - What life lessons has the music industry taught you?
Oh wow lots of them. You're only as good as your last song and people will forget about you pretty fast, especially in EDM. The other is never stop learning, especially from the younger peeps, because young minds bring fresh ideas. Stay away from the politics – you really don't need to be involved in peoples' drama, it just drags you down. I just make music for me these days and couldn't care less what anyone thinks. For instance I've been putting drops and huge builds in my songs lately. Someone recently said to me “that's kind of cheesy”, I was like “who the hell told you you had to listen to my music? I like them so go fuck off.” Unless you are being paid by a big label or artist who wants something extremely specific, do your own thing and worry about only yourself is probably the best industry lesson anyone can learn.
12. – What does the future hold for Sharaz?
I have been branching out. Like I said, I've always been a rock-and-roll kind of guy, and lately I've been incorporating some of those elements in my music - guitars, acoustic instruments and such. I'm really bored with stuff in the 130-ish bpm range as well and have been doing some faster tempo music along with some cinematic type work. It's a real challenge. I work with a handful of vocalists and will sometimes sit down and compose a project for them at 100bpm or 150 bpm or whatever seems to suit me at that particular moment. I do not feel like I have to make just breaks anymore...but one time that was my thinking, though. It's a big world out there, so why stay in one village all your life?
Sharaz - Exclusive Guest Mix for The Shoe Skool Sessions by The Kick It Blog
Sharaz's Website - www.dropthatbass.com/
Sharaz on Soundcloud - soundcloud.com/dj-sharaz
Sky Artist Management Website - www.skyartistmgmt.com