Language barriers and cultural differences haven't stopped Brazilian-born Palestinian DJ Adnan Sharif from realizing his dreams as a house producer and underground party promoter in S.F. and around the globe. As founder of house music collective Forward SF, which celebrates its 11th anniversary this year, he has played alongside artists such as Milan dark house duo Clockwork and local deep house favorite Lance DeSardi. He will also soon be releasing original productions on labels Smoke N' Mirrors and Brazil's D-Edge Records. We recently got in touch with DJ Adnan about his DJ beginnings, Forward SF, and his plans to move back to Brazil this spring. He performs after Danny Daze this Saturday, March 2, at Monarch and next Saturday, March 9, with Nitin for Forward SF at F8.
Having immigrated to the U.S. in '87, what inspired you to start DJing?
I was 14 years old when I started clubbing in Brazil; dancing and music [have] always been my passion. In '88 I was introduced to the S.F. nightlife, Das Klub (1015 today), Lips, City Nights, and the Palladium. The first DJs that got my attention were Page Hodel and Mr. Doc Martin. In the beginning of '92 I went to my first rave. It was A Rave Called Sharon, and I heard Jeno, Garth, Thomas, and Markie, also known as the Wicked crew. I was fascinated by the way they expressed themselves through music. In '94 I was roommates with my beloved friend Solar, and learned how to DJ on his turntables and records. It was in that time that Galen, Solar, and J-Bird started the Sunset parties at the Berkeley Marina.
Music is expression, it touches the secrets places of one's soul, it brings joy to the mind and works the body in rhythm motion. Music heals the wounds and soothes the soul.
How has your background influenced the type of music you produce and play?
My parents are Palestinians, and I was born and raised in Brazil. I grew up to my mom playing Arabic music every Sunday morning, and two blocks from my house there used to be a samba school. Arabic and Brazilian cultures are very musical, and you can hear that fusion in my productions and sets. Also, of course, the psychedelic house music that S.F. is well-known for.
What was the idea behind starting Forward SF?
The idea was to gather friends and create a conscious environment, where I had a place to express myself. The first Forward was in March 2002 at the old Border Cantina (1192 Folsom today) and about 30 friends danced the night away. Forward SF kept moving forward.
Who are some of your favorite guests?
I would say Dixon has been my favorite. He's one of the most caring and also professional DJs that I have met, and of course amazingly talented. He has a very unique sound.
What is your proudest accomplishment related to this party? How do you manage to keep up the reputation of always having positive and inclusive vibes?
Accomplishing my goal of creating an environment where good music,sound, and vibe are provided, and also having the chance to book DJs that I've always appreciated and looked up to for their talent. We will be celebrating Forward's 11-year-anniversary on April 12 at Mighty and I'm stoked to have one of my favorite producers headline the night, M.A.N.I.K. from NYC. I keep the positivity with a lot of love and dedication, caring to provide and give back.
What do you like most about the underground scene in S.F.?
The diversity of people and open-minded attitude of it all.
What's next for you in terms of production?
I've been very productive lately, with new releases to come out on D-Edge Records and Smoke N' Mirrors. This year you will be hearing a lot of new productions and remixes.
What's a song you've heard this year that you wished you produced?
"Oh, Don't Stop (Original Mix)" by 2nd Sequel on Kaluki Musik. It's a very positive track with great rhythm and messages. It's all about moving forward.
We heard you'll be moving away from SF soon. Where will you be going to?
I am going to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to work with D-Edge Club and Agency led by Renato Ratier. They are a strong pillar of the Brazilian Underground, always providing Brazil with great worldwide talent. Also, they will be opening a D-Edge in Rio de Janeiro, and we have many plans of producing events not only in Brazil, but festivals worldwide. I leave San Francisco so grateful for all that I have learned, all the love I found and for teaching to finding myself. I can proudly say that I leave S.F. with a Ph.D. on nightlife. S.F. ... it's my home, too, I will be back.
If you could take one piece of S.F. with you, what would it be?
The San Francisco underground culture and all you lovely people!