DJ Zak Davis: Let's start with location; where are you from and where did you start out?
Sharaz: I live in Sarasota, I grew up outside Chicago, about forty miles outside Chicago, near Lake Michigan.
ZD: How do you think that Chicago has affected where you're at right now as an artist?
Sharaz: Well it didn't really affect me too much because when I was younger I was playing the drums and I was mostly into rock 'n roll back in those days. I wasn't really listening to too much as a part of my childhood. I had a little bit of exposure to electronic music when Paul Hardcastle's "19" came out, it was such a odd thing back in the day, "Planet Rock" stuff like that but my exposure was pretty limited. Back in those days because I was mostly an actual musician with organic instruments so
ZD: This gave you an introduction to the rhythm section, I guess.
Sharaz: A little bit, yes.
ZD: Did you DJ first or produce tracks first?
Sharaz: Well, I started DJing first and the production came pretty soon after that.
ZD: What was the first production you worked on?
Sharaz: It was a disaster, just a giant mess. I didn't really know my way around the equipment and I had no clue of what I was doing, so a lot of it was a learning process. The actual first production that was released, it would have been in 1998. The first record that our label, which was then called 420, released was "This is How It Should Be Done." So that was actually the first real production.
ZD: Do you always record under Sharaz, or do you have different guises?
Sharaz: Yes, occasionally I'll use an alias for other stuff like when I do house music.
ZD: It keeps everything in line I guess.
Sharaz: Well, yes. You don't really want to confuse anyone because people who pick up the stuff from our label are primarily breaks fans, that's what they're expecting when they pick up a record. Of course with people who own the stores, they want to know where to stock the record as well, so you don't want to go confusing people.
ZD: Where did the name Sharaz come from?
Sharaz: Sharaz is the name of an Australian Merlot. I was looking for a DJ name and I was at a restaurant one night and I saw it on the wine list and I thought oh, that doesn't sound too bad, so that's how that name came to be. Also it's the name of a villain on Doctor Who and that becomes a part of it as well.
ZD: I always had wonder if it was from the wine or not, but now I know. Do you remember the first record you ever bought?
Sharaz: First record I ever bought, meaning as a kid?
ZD: As a DJ.
Sharaz: Oh, as a DJ. Oh my God, I have to think. OK, there was a Sm:)e record, "No Other Love," and that was Blue Amazon. That was then the first record I ever bought. It was a little seven inch record and it was a house record.
ZD: The first record was a house track.
Sharaz: The first record was a house record. I still have that record to this day, still absolutely one of my favorite songs after all these years.
ZD: When did you know that dance music was something you were interested in?
Sharaz: Well, that would have been somewhere around '95 - '96 when I became a little bit of a club rat and I was doing a cross-country drive and I stopped at an Best Buy and they had a DJ Hardware CD and it was Trip Hop Acid Phunk. I picked it up, I didn't know what it was and I popped this thing into my CD player on my drive and I recognized all the songs from the club, and that's kind of what got me started. I ended up picking up the whole collection, like three or four volumes of that and later on as a DJ, I started collecting the records from those CD's. So that's really how that kind of got started with me, but I wasn't concerned of whether dance music was going anywhere, I just liked it enough and knew it. It was some what anti authority. Come to think of it, it wasn't really such the predominant thing that I was interested in, it was that it wasn't commercialized like radio music.