Since its conception in 1994 by Grammy-award winning duo Deep Dish, Yoshitoshi Recordings has built itself into a household name by releasing a range of essential and timeless dance records. Throughout the years the label has released multiple chart-topping hits as well as genre-defining mixes, from classics like Yoshiesque to Sharam Live at Warung Beach Brasil, and ‘In House We Trust.’ Nicole Moudaber’s remix of Alcatraz’s ‘Giv Me Luv’ was Beatport’s top-selling techno track of 2015, and won the IDMA for best tech-house/techno record of the year, continuing Yoshitoshi’s reign as a forward-thinking, taste making imprint.
Sharam’s unique production style, along with a diverse list of accomplishments in the international charts and underground realms, has solidified him as a true non-conformist and innovator in dance music – both as a solo artist and as part of the legendary group Deep Dish. His eclectic DJ sets are a journey through sound, with razor-sharp focus to quality and obsessive attention to entertaining both purists and the unassuming. In Sharam’s mind, dance music is meant for everyone, and forward motion is only possible through cross-pollination of styles.
Decoded Radio manager Daz Pearson caught up with Sharam post BPM Mexico to hear about Yoshitoshi’s label showcase at Wah Wah Beach Bar, the reform of Deep Dish, current and future label releases and his fantastic label showcase mix for Decoded Radio.
Hi Sharam, it’s great to have you join us at Decoded Magazine. For everyone who couldn’t attend how was the Yoshitoshi showcase at BPM Festival? What was the venue and atmosphere like?
The atmosphere was incredible. The place was packed and the programming flowed really well with all the DJs putting on fantastic sets. I really hope that the terrible incident on Sunday doesn’t affect the festival next year – it’s a crucial element in the global dance scene and they’ve always been incredible hosts to Yoshitoshi and the support from the fans has been phenomenal.
How was your set and others from Victor Ruiz, Anthony Attalla, CJ Jeff and Sacha Robotti?
Everyone absolutely crushed it. Watching the back to back sets was especially enjoyable; Anthony Attalla and CJ Jeff (read his interview with Decoded Magazine here) played off each other really well, and Ardalan and Sacha Robotti can practically read each other’s minds. Those two played a very eclectic set, lots of different styles – but it worked. Shiba San and Victor Ruiz both stuck to their signature sounds, and it was a fun and exploratory challenge to bridge the gap between them. I also have to shout out our opening DJ/contest-winner Joey Zander as well, he played a mature warm up set that set the mood right from the beginning.
As you just mentioned, you launched a competition to win the opportunity to play the opening DJ slot at the Yoshitoshi showcase. Can you tell us about the judging criteria? What made Joey’s mix stand out from the others?
The winner Joey Zander is a DJ from LA. We liked his mix because it flowed well and he created an opening vibe. A lot of the mixes were good, but they were too high energy -banger after banger. We wanted someone who played what would be appropriate for mid day, pre-party, on the beach. That’s something that I feel gets lost on a lot of DJ’s these days – it’s all about creating a vibe that sits well with the atmosphere and time of the day, not about how many bangers are in your crate.
In December ‘Yoshitoshi 20th Best of the Classics Remixes’ was released which is a compilation of ten remixes of classic Yoshitoshi tracks and a continuous mix? Did you have the artists already in mind for the remixes? Did they have their own choice of tracks to remix? They all did amazing jobs!
We contacted each artist with a clear vision of what we wanted them to remix. For example, we knew Robosonic would crush the Eddie Amador tracks (‘House Music’ and ‘Rise’) because their bread and butter is groovy house music. Nicole was perfect for ‘Giv Me Luv’ because the original has more of a driving, techno vibe. We knew Matador would do great with ‘You Are Sleeping’ because it’s very dark, gritty, and twisted. So really when we plan these remix packs, we pick the track first and then ask ourselves, “who would do well with this?”
And then the ‘Best of 2016 Compilation’ followed which is also available now. How would you weigh up the newer sound of the label to that of the latter years?
It’s no secret that for much of Yoshitoshi’s history we were pigeonholed as a progressive label, but if you dig deeper you’ll see that we’ve put out records from all corners of the worlds of house and techno. I think our mission has always been to release good music that we enjoy listening to and playing, and the recent releases still reflect that. You hear that in the mix – we start in the world of deep house and slowly progress through house, tech house, and techno. So I’d say stylistically we’re in the same place we’ve always been, and the quality of the music is there as well.
I for one have been dipping into and buying the back catalogue of the Classic vinyl collection. Are all releases still available on vinyl via Yoshop online?
Glad you’re doing some digging! However, no, only a handful are available there. We had some excess pressings laying around from back in the day and figured we’d unload them for the fans. They’ve been moving pretty fast. We still need to dig into our storage and archives though – we have crates of mint Yoshi vinyl that we are going to upload to the store soon. Look out! :o)
You have also very recently started a Yoshitoshi weekly Spotify playlists. Gabriel Ananda (read his interview with Decoded Magazine here) also does this with his Soulful Techno label. With regards to royalties and producers getting paid for their music do you think all labels should be doing this to help their artists?
Well, the royalties artists make from these sorts of streaming services are really pitiful, to be honest. Of course they show up on the statements, but they pale in comparison to digital and vinyl sales, which I think brings up a bigger question about ethics. The playlist really serves as a promotional tool for the artists and another avenue to increase the fan base and get the music heard. The playlist is also more just to showcase what we’re listening to and who we are excited about. Not all the tracks we post on the playlist are Yoshi records, they’re records that me or my label manager Nick have been playing out and listening to. It’s mainly about promoting good music.
I’d now like to talk about your latest artist album ‘Retroactive’ which scales the house genre perfectly from deeper melodic and vocal tracks (I particularly enjoyed the vocals from Anousheh, a great voice) up to the more dirtier techno end with tracks such as ‘Techi’. Could you talk us through the production of the album as a project?
As the name suggests, the album was a retroactive look at all of my influences over the years so there are tracks with different vibes and vantage points. I’ve had a huge list of influences over the years, from early disco and Giorgio Moroder euro-dance stuff to early house and deep house and onto Techno and so on and so forth. With the album I tried to bring it all together under one roof – and the vocal tracks play a great role in that trajectory of influences.
After such a long break from working with Ali what spurred your decision to reignite your partnership and reform Deep Dish in 2014 with the release of ‘Quincy’ and then tour again?
It was part management and team pressure and part our own desire to revisit the brand as we felt like we could do something special again. We worked on a lot of music but only released one single. We have been discussing finding some time to revisit those tracks and perhaps releasing them as an album or multiple EPs. Our schedules are very hectic so it’s quite challenging to find the time to get back in the lab and finish all the stuff.
Your own edit of Valentino – Flying (Psycatron Remix) will now be released to also include a VIP mix by Cid Inc. He’s a very in demand artist of late, what is it about him which appeals to you and what directional twist has he given to the track?
When we released the first pack last year, we included Cid Inc’s main remix, which was more of a deep track for earlier sets and beach vibes. We wanted to save the VIP because we felt it deserved its own release; it’s really the energizer. It drives hard and makes great use of the original samples, flipping them into something unique and extraordinarily useful on the dance floor. I’ve been a fan of Henri’s records for a long time so it’s very exciting to have not one, but two remixes of one of our biggest classic records from him.
We’re now into a fresh new year, what new music will be coming from you over the next few months?
I’m working on a big collaboration with someone who I’m very excited about, but that’s a surprise that will be unveiled soon. I also have a bevy of original material that I’ve begun since Retroactive that reflects what I believe is a new era for me. I’m trying new things and exploring new areas of sound and rhythm.
On the label we’re planning some remix packs from the album, and we’re very excited about the names that are on board. Dubspeeka, DJ.T, Josh Butler, Reinier Zonneveld, Moonwalk – all names whose work I really admire. Additionally we’re planning an “unreleased” package, reworks and VIPs from the album that will get released as a little compilation.
You are now in the early stages of touring South America through winter until the end of Feb. Are there any plans for Europe in 2017?
Definitely! We’re planning an Offsonar party for Yoshitoshi, and I’ll probably plan a run of dates during Ibiza season.
You have kindly provided us with an exclusive label showcase mix. Could you talk us through the track selection of releases which you have chosen to include and why? There are so many and I wouldn’t know where to start.
The mix showcases many different angles of the label. The first track has been a secret weapon of mine that we’re releasing on our Deep End: Miami compilation in a few weeks. I’ve also placed our new record from Aaaron, ‘Black Arp,’ and its remix from DJ T. in the mix. Lots of soon-to-be released material in here, including records from Dakar and Wolf Story. Then there’s ‘Hold You,’ a collaboration between label vet Andy Caldwell and this new guy Adam Johan, which was a huge record for me last summer.
Bigger names in the mix include Ardalan, Matador, Cristoph, and of course ANNA whose ‘Disndat’ is one of my favourite Yoshi records in recent memory. All these cats need no introduction, and their contributions to the label light up floors wherever I go. Overall, I really just wanted to showcase the best of what we’ve done recently, and what we have coming up.
Before we bring the interview to a close what has Yoshitoshi ended up meaning to you over the past 20 years? It’s been your labour of love and a benchmark in house music history but what impact has it personally had on your life?
It’s always served as a platform for new rising talents from around the world and we’ve had them all on the label lol! From when they were up and comers to super stars. I’m really proud of the work Ali and myself did in the early years together and later on when I took over things myself. The label has gone through many seismic changes in the music industry and we’re still standing and I believe it’s because we believe in good music first – regardless of trends and buzz.
Lastly is there anything you would like to add for our readers and your fans?
Thanks for listening and reading. Hope to see you all of you on a dance floor soon. :o)
All the best with the tour and success with the label in 2017.
Decoded Radio hosted by Ian Dillon presents Yoshitoshi Recordings with Sharam.
Decoded Magazine with Sharam Yoshitoshi Label showcase
Decoded Hot Picks Chart Countdown
#4 Definition feat. Pete Josef – Caught Out (Gabriel Ananda Remix) [Definition Music]
#3 Kay D – Nightfall (Napalm & d-phrag Remix) [Stellar Fountain]
#2 Circle of Life – Friday Night (D-Nox & Beckers Remix) [Suara]
#1 Radiohead – Everything In Its Right Place (Nic Fanciulli Edit) [White]
01. Echomen – Substance (Matias Chilano Retouch) [Forensic Records]
02. Guy J – Been Here Before (Namatjira Remix) [Manual Music]
03. Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor – Fiction (Third Son Remix) [JEE Productions]
04. Blausch – Parallel Hymns (Far from Mars Remix) [Global Underground]
01. Mannerow – Bird Watching
02. Aaaron – Black Arp
03. Nihil Young & Wolf Story – Voice of Reason
04. Eddie Amador – Psycho X Girlfriend (Ardalan Remix)
05. Andy Caldwell & Adam Johan – Hold You
06. Dakar – Dynamite
07. PQM – You Are Sleeping (Matador Remix)
08. ANNA – Disndat
09. Valentino – Flying (Cid Inc VIP)
10. Sharam – Call To Me feat. Daniel Bedingfield (Sharam’s Crazi Dub)
11. Aaaron – Black Arp (DJ T. Remix)
12. Luzon – The Baguio Track (Cristoph Remix)
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