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Thursday, January 6, 2011

SF DJ Eric Sharp On the Difference Between Nightclubs and Warehouse Parties

Posted By on Thu, Jan 6, 2011 at 9:07 AM

Eric Sharp DJing at Temple. Photo by Mischief Photo.
  • Eric Sharp DJing at Temple. Photo by Mischief Photo.
You've seen the name DJ Eric Sharp on fliers from SOMA to the Haight. Whether you're a 9-5'er in the Financial District or an underground party raver, you've also probably heard the guy at some point during your weekend dancing career. Because he doesn't conform to a particular sound, Sharp has played alongside characters such as DJ Ayres and Afrika Bambaataa. But Sharp's also known for Rock It Science, which started as an event production company in 2005, grew into a label last year, and this year will launch a clothing line. So what's behind Sharp's success? Working hard and being part vampire, as he explains. Catch him as the headliner of the first Temple Friday of the year alongside another S.F. favorite, Andrew Phelan

I see you don't have a DJ moniker. Why not?

Well a lesser known fact is Eric Sharp is my DJ moniker.

You started the music label part of Rock It Science Laboratories this past year. What has been the most difficult part?

The most difficult part was way before we launched. I had two partners initially, both of whom backed out, so I had to build a whole new team and virtually start again from scratch. Securing good digital distribution, cementing a graphical direction, building a website and social media presence, [and] signing artists and remixers all required a lot of time and effort but weren't especially difficult. I have major gratitude to DJ Fame and Ken Liu for their support in making this happen.

You say often say your musical style is "refusal to conform to one sound." Please elaborate.

I started DJing seriously as a house DJ in 2005, playing mostly tunes from New York or Chicago. When Switch launched his Dubsided label in '06/'07, I got really excited about a newer, more aggressive sound and started playing more energetic music. I was shocked at how closed-minded a lot of my audience was, and had to build a whole new fan base.

The first time I saw Diplo perform it really blew my mind how his set seamlessly flowed across a very diverse sound scape. That really changed the way I've DJ'ed since then, despite the fact that every time I've met Diplo he's not been friendly with me. As an artist, I think that "pigeon-holing" is very restrictive. I am a complex, sensitive person, and I give myself the freedom to express a variety of moods, thoughts, and feelings through my music -- both as a musician and a DJ.

If people could walk away from your sets thinking one thought, what would you want it be?

"My legs are sore."

Temple sometimes gets a bad rap for being a sort of "bridge and tunnel" club or a sort of last resort. Have you tried to change this with your Friday nights?

For the most part, industry snobs don't like Temple. It's too bright and shiny for them and there are lots of people just there for the experience. We have brought an incredible run of artists to Temple on Fridays, from Little Louie Vega to The Martinez Bros, naming just a few top names in house music. Although most of these artists don't align with my newer sound, they are major influences in electronic music, so I have been happy to promote them. I think we focus more on exposing our crowd at Temple to great music as opposed to trying to manage the opinions of "tastemakers" who stand around with their arms folded watching a DJ mix. People can go to 222 [Hyde] or a dirty warehouse for that. We want people who are looking to have fun and dance all night.

Refinery - Pantytime (Eric Sharp Rave Mix) - Headset Recordings by Headset Recordings

Yet you also used to play underground parties a lot. What's the thrill in those? It's quite different from Temple nights.

I don't get asked to play underground parties that often anymore -- which is unfortunate cause I love them. The thrill is the fact that they are temporary and could end at any moment. Not unlike a Tibetan sand painting. Also the crowd is often very different, more of a raw feel.

You've been around S.F. a while. Do you think that over the years DJs and promoters have gotten more exclusive as to whom they'll play with and book?

I get the sense that a lot of creative people have been pushed out of S.F. due to the cost of living. This has been a detriment to the overall energy of the parties in the city. I also think people's lack of willingness to spend money at the door when they will easily spend hundreds on alcohol and drugs for a night has hurt the scene as well, making it very difficult for promoters.

I've heard recently you did a remix for Dirty Vegas of their track "Little White Doves." Since most people know them for their music video "Days Go By," how would you visualize your remix?

On a correction point, I did the remix of Dirty Vegas for Om Records. I think this video could be a bit more emo than "Days Go By." "Little White Doves" really spoke to me. I don't know what the band was thinking about when they wrote it, but it made me think a lot about the gap between nightlife and real life, between an artist's hype and their actual experience.

In 2011, what changes are you going to make in establishing yourself as an artist?

Great question, I think about this all of the time. Since I'm not a trust fund kid and can't dump a ton of money into PR, cementing myself involves a lot of very hard work and persistence. I'd give just about anything to have a competent manager and booking agent by the end of the year. Now that the label is off the ground, I can build my own visual artist identity and launch my own website. I'm also deepening my relationships with larger allies like Temple and Flavor Group, who have been instrumental in my development as an artist thus far.


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