Early in our interview, Sharam Tayebi, who — as one of the world’s most respected progressive-house DJs and producers — often goes only by his first name, laughs and humbly worries aloud that he won’t have much to talk about.
Before long, however, despite the lack of details he’s able to give on his upcoming sophomore LP and the tour that will follow, we find plenty to discuss, not least of which involves a career that spans decades, several of those as part of an influential duo (the Grammy Award-winning Deep Dish) and his own record label, Yoshitoshi.
Tayebi is so thoroughly, enthusiastically entranced by Miami that it’s hard to believe the Iranian-born, Washington, D.C.-based musician isn’t a South Florida native. At this point, though, he might as well be, and we’re glad to have him.
New Times: Let’s talk about your relationship with Miami. Both during your time with Deep Dish and now on your own, there always seems to have been a great love affair with the city. Why and how has the city been so important to you over the years?
Sharam Tayebi: Wow. Where do I start? I think one of the reasons is that I have a lot of good friends in Miami. When you come in, you feel like you’re home. So you feel like that instant connection. And through those friends I’ve met so many people in the industry and outside the industry. Also, I think that Miami is a hub for a lot international people. It’s a cosmopolitan city, but not like New York. It’s more in terms of people coming in there and having an open mind for music and for partying. It’s sort of like, they let loose. I don’t know if it’s the weather — I’m sure it has a lot to do with the weather — but no one is walking around with a hang-up. As a DJ, when you see that, it’s the best thing. You feel like there’s no limit; you can do whatever. People seemingly are following you and you get inspired. That’s that connection with the crowd. A sort of back and forth love that you throw at each other. The more they react, the more you want to please them more, impress them more, and make music for them. For me it’s always been like that. There’s never a dull moment. I don’t recall having bad gigs in Miami, one way or another.
Have you had any bad gigs?
In Miami or in general?
Oh yeah. It happens all the time. People only see the glamourous side. You end up in cities that, for various reasons, sometimes the sound system is shit, it’s hard or you can't connect to the crowd. Or sometimes there is no crowd. These things pop up. I remember I ended up doing a party in Cleveland. It was a really good party, but I was like, why is nobody here? They expected like a thousand people to show up. I started talking to people and they were like, yeah, it’s the [school] Finals. I’m like, Finals? What? It’s Finals week? How come no one said anything?
Now, your last proper studio album, Get Wild, came out in 2009. Any plans to drop a new LP anytime soon?
Yeah, in fact I do. I was talking Justin, my PR, about what am I going to talk about? But because we’re going to send the press release in the next couple weeks about my album, which comes out in June, he said talk about that. I’ve been working on it for a while and…the details will be in the press release. [Laughs]
Do you have a title?
Um...yes I do. It’ll be in the press release. [Laughs] But yeah, I’ve been working on the album for a while. I’ve actually road tested a lot of it at Story because since — I think this will be my fourth visit to Story in the past two years — a lot of the tracks on the album have been either made with Story being the main inspiration behind it or road tested and fined tuned there, because it’s one of the great rooms in the city. I sort of have all these places where I consider the ultimate testing grounds and Miami is obviously one of the cities that I value highly in terms of testing new material.
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Anything else you can tell us about the new album?
Well, what I can say is that there are some guests vocalists. Nothing too crazy — nothing people haven’t expected from me. The whole idea of it is that I want to go back to my roots. I know it sounds cliché, but I wanted to go back to the things that inspired me and sort of tap into that. There’s a bit of late '70s, early '80s sort of vibe. There’s that sort of warehouse style, hypnotic, manic and techno vibe. It’s a culmination of those. It has one leg in what inspired me to do what I do and another leg in what I’m doing today.
So not to make you feel old or anything, but do you realize that Deep Dish’s Junk Science is almost 20 years old now? Do you ever listen to it and how do you feel about that album today?
No, I mean, people tell me about, but to be honest, I haven’t listened to it in a long time. I think the last time was ten years ago when we were making the George is On album. I probably should do that. It’s so crazy. Last year was the Penetrate Deeper 20th anniversary and we didn’t really do anything about it either. I’m a big believer in 21st anniversary instead of 20th.
Because everyone does 20. Why don’t we just do 21? Blackjack is much better than 20.
Sharam. 11 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at Story, 136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-2424; storymiami.com. Tickets cost $30 plus fees via flavorus.com.