Deep Dish talks to The Hatchet about helping D.C. get down

One of the groups responsible for casting D.C. into the techno limelight is the duo Deep Dish. Formed by Ali Shirazinia and Sharam Tayebi, the renowned duo has made critically acclaimed records, is known world-wide for their DJ sets and has helped to build the dance music scene in D.C., almost from the ground up, with the group’s music label and record store, Yoshitoshi.

Like so many others, Tayebi said he got into dance music because he was a big fan of the sound.

It was outrageous and rebellious music no one was doing, said Tayebi, who started as a DJ in 1986. I was fascinated with records and I thought I could do that.

Tayebi said he knew he needed a partner if he was going to expand his music interests. In 1991 Tayebi met Shirazinia, who would become the other half of Deep Dish.

You look for someone who has what you lack, Tayebi said of Shirazinia, Like two pieces of a puzzle.

The two formed Deep Dish to not only DJ but make their own music, too. They shopped their music around to various record labels, but frustration led them to start their label, Yoshitoshi.

We were monitoring the scene from far away and saw how much BS it was to deal with labels, Tayebi said. We sent out demos and didn’t like the way we were being treated so we decided to start our own. We got inspired by seeing other people do it. We’re not the kind of people to kiss ass. We’d rather set the scene.

Tayebi said there are many stories floating around the D.C. scene about how the group came up with the distinctive name for its label. But Tayebi filled The Hatchet in on the truth.

We were sitting in our lawyer’s office one day, trying to come up with a name, and I looked up and saw a painting our lawyer had by the Japanese artist Yoshitoshi, and I thought, `that’s it,’ Tayebi said. Three years later I found out that it basically meant anything good. It can be used in various ways . good weather, good karma, but it comes down to anything good.

While the group’s early releases did not get widespread attention, the 1998 release of Junk Science launched Deep Dish into the dance spotlight. The album introduced the sound later called deep house, a more bass-heavy, spacier-sounding version of house music. While many people think of deep house sound when they hear the name Deep Dish, Tayebi said he doesn’t think the duo has a signature sound.

We don’t plan on how things will sound, Tayebi said. It all depends on how we feel when we go into the studio. If we’re happy, maybe we’ll make something hard. If we’re sad, then maybe we’ll make something sad.

Deep Dish is working in the studio now to finish the follow-up to Junk Science.We got to get to the studio more often, Tayebi said. Some tracks are done, they just need to be re-tweaked.

The duo is also well known for getting crowds at clubs up and moving when they DJ. Tayebi said there’s no plan to what records and sounds he’ll throw in the mix when he’s behind the decks.

It’s all instinctive, Tayebi said. You have to feel the vibe and see how people react to what you put on. Mostly, it’s all on the fly. Sometimes we’ll get records and don’t get a chance to listen to them properly so we’ll just throw them in and see what happens.

Deep Dish has performed in clubs all around the world, from the dance meccas like New York and London to lesser-known clubs in South America and the Middle East.

South America is the best, Tayebi said. The scene there is just incredible. We look forward to going back to Buenos Aires. The only other place to come close is Israel.

Like most DJs, Tayebi and Shirazinia have had their share of bad experiences.

So many places were bad there’s no need to remember them, Tayebi said. In the beginning, we pretty much had to go everywhere. We’re lucky now in that we can choose where we want to go.

After playing clubs all around the world, what does Tayebi think of the D.C. scene? It’s good, but D.C. has a long way to go, Tayebi said. Buzz is the only thing of a real high caliber. The problem is that Buzz appeals to a younger crowd. There aren’t any clubs that appeal to older people.

Tayebi said D.C.’s heavy bar scene affects the dance environment at clubs.

People are worried about the bar and not the music, Tayebi said. People who have the energy for the bar are idiots and ignore the music. That’s how it’s been for the last 10 years. As soon as people with suits come in, the music goes down.

Tayebi said that another problem in the D.C. club scene is the lack of variety in the music. Clubs in D.C. all play the same music, Tayebi said. There’s a fear factor, this idea that if places don’t play what’s popular then no one will come. It’s like (D.C. radio station) Z104, if you play the same stuff all the time, then eventually people will like it.

Everywhere there are people who like the cheesy and popular stuff and then there are the people who like the underground, Tayebi said. The difference in D.C. is that there is no underground alternative.

Tayebi said Deep Dish plans to start its own club some day.

It’s a matter of manpower, Tayebi said. You just can’t stick your name on something and expect it to be good.

What’s his idea of a dream club?

Something intimate, maybe 300, 400 people max. Something where word-of-mouth can do its thing.

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