Art Basel Miami Beach

Dubfire Talks Deep Dish Retrospective, SCI+TEC Label, and Future of EDM

From the mid '90s to the mid noughties, there were few electronic dance music acts as big as Deep Dish. The Washington D.C. power duo of Ali "Dubfire" Shirazinia and Sharam Tayebi helped lift house music from the underground to the mainstream via glossy pop production value and infectious vocal hooks.

But the pair split up in 2006. And while Sharam continued a pop approach to dance music, Dubfire's new solo career gave him the freedom he'd always sought to explore cutting-edge electronic sounds and technologies. He has since reinvented himself as one of the most innovative artists and tastemakers on the international techno scene.

This Sunday, Dubfire will be joining a hefty lineup of international star DJs at Treehouse for LINK and Miami Rebels' Coccon Heroes party. Crossfade caught up with the sensation himself to chat about the possibility of a Deep Dish reunion, his thoughts on the future of EDM, and what's been going on with this SCI+TEC label.

See also

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Crossfade: You and Sharam took very different stylistic directions as solo producers. How much of those individual styles were at play when you produced together as Deep Dish? Was it an advantage as far as the sound you wanted to have collaboratively, or did it ultimately cause creative differences?

Dubfire: Those stylistic differences that we had existed well before Sharam and I ever met. And they most certainly created the unique dynamic that we had as DJs and producers, which led to our specific sound. My tenure in that partnership was extremely exciting, free and full of experimentation. But it came equally with bouts of frustration, in-fighting and disagreements about our collective vision for Deep Dish.

But that difficult dynamic, as I've always said, was the source of the Deep Dish sound and aesthetic. And towards the end, I think that both of us grew tired of the fighting and compromises we had to make at every turn. I am very proud of the overall scope of work we did. But there comes a time to turn the page.

Do you think there may ever be another collaboration between Sharam and yourself as Deep Dish? 

Collaboration? I don't know. That remains to be seen. Because we've both since moved onto successful solo careers and, musically, don't really speak the same language anymore. But what I CAN tell you is that we're presently dusting off all the old DAT tapes in our vault in preparation for an exhaustive retrospective boxset which will be a lengthy process to put together. Perhaps that will be the catalyst to a renewed creative alliance between us.

What's been going on with your label SCI+TEC this year? And what can fans expect next? Any new releases or artist signings to look forward to?

I've been on a signing frenzy actually, with my release schedule more or less complete till the end of 2013! We do roughly 2 releases per month, with amazing music coming from the usual suspects like Carlo Lio, SHADED and The Junkies to newer, undiscovered talent like Joran Van Pol, Justin James, Joop Junior and Refraction, plus a sprinkling of gems from more established artists like Ron Costa and Santé. My vision for the label has always been to nurture new talent and promote the finest electronic music I can.

You're known as a relentless sonic innovator. With so much electronic dance music these days looking to the past for inspiration, what do you think is moving the sound forward? What is the future of EDM and which areas do you think are currently pushing the envelope most?

What has always moved the sound forward is technology and the sonic innovation and experimentation by talented young artists. You have to have unique ideas and perspectives towards music-making to begin with, but technology translates those ideas into reality. I think that on the same token, technology can spark those ideas, so the synergy of the two are very important to each other.

I am inspired and moved, literally, every day with the music that I'm exposed to. And of course, I do my best to navigate the market saturation of the moment that's obviously giving birth to the poppy, bland, soulless and mediocre stuff that's out there.

I think the future of EDM relies on the public at large to be more discerning with respect to the music and artists they choose to support. They will dictate whether the scene implodes, veers wildly off course, or remains firmly on the right track. I'll leave it at that.

You're a regular on the global festival circuit. Do you think that your sound translates better in a big festival arena than it does at a club? Where do you prefer to play and why?

I do an equal amount of festivals as I do more intimate venues, and I'm into the full spectrum of credible electronic music, so adapting to clubs or festivals is second nature to me at this point in my career. And juggling the two keeps me on my toes, musically speaking, so I do enjoy both in equal amounts.

So what does the future have in store for Dubfire? 

It may be more a question of what Dubfire has in store for the future! [Laughs] I usually take some time off in January to contemplate that question, but on the heels of the just-launched Dubfire website (which has already garnered accolades and technology awards) we're launching a Mobile Roadie app for the iPhone and Android which we're currently finalizing.

I've just wrapped a rework for Harvard Bass, an artist on MSTRKRFT's label Teenage Riot, which started out as a simple re-edit for my sets and turned into much more than that, and a departure from my usual sound. I'm now road-testing a remix for Figueroa & Obando, two talented artists from Colombia, as well as a collaboration with Daniel Stefanik which is a sort of dreamy deep house tune.

Oliver Huntemann and I have wrapped the next installment in our Elements series, "Aire", which turned out amazing, and we're actively trying to finish the final track, "Agua," before the end of the year. Of course, there is lots of original music which I'm either road-testing, finishing off, or starting on, so that will take me into the early part of 2013 with ample studio commitments.

There's also this documentary that two talented German filmmakers have been working on which is sort of a profile on me, and we'll continue to shoot that through the middle of next year.

And lastly there's a collaboration with Kazuyuki Kumagai's Attachment clothing line based in Tokyo that we've been working on for a few years now and which should finally be launched next year.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

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Sean Levisman