With a stream of successful releases on his newly launched imprint, American DJ and producer Al Sharif is rightly primed to rise through the ranks in the industry. Once a budding producer in the Groove genre, dabbling with Kryder and releasing music on Kryder’s Sosumi Records, its would not be out of place to suggest that Al Sharif has done well to come into his own. From collaborating with up-and-coming talents to giving them a platform on the fresh Zensa Records imprint, Al Sharif cuts a figure who knows the struggles of the industry and is ready to give a hand to those who have the right talents – as he says ‘if the quality is there, that’s all that matters’.
For now though, as his energy seems keenly dedicated towards making Zensa Records grow so is his production output. The imprint flaunts Al Sharif productions such as ‘House 4 Life‘ with Erick T and ‘New York to L.A.‘ with Loris Buono, while also allowing the likes of Erick T and Tony Calrya to showcase their talents on ‘Wait For You‘. And as this story continues without any hurdles, we took the opportunity to sit down with Al Sharif and have a quick word about his origins, his influences, his relationship with Kryder, Zensa Records and what the future holds for him.
How long have you been a producer/DJ for? Tell us about the origin of your music. What inspired you to pursue your career as an artist?
I’ve been producing music and DJing for 10 years now. I live in San Diego, California but I would drive to Los Angeles in the beginning to create music in a warehouse studio in downtown LA. It was there that I discovered Pasquale’s creation of Electric Daisy Carnival which showed me I could make a career out of this passion.
Who do you consider to have been your biggest influences throughout your career that have made an impact on your productions?
Steve Angello really inspired me in my early days. I’ve always admired how Steve sacrificed everything to put the music first. It was always quality over quantity. I’m constantly inspired by my friends and collaborators too, like CAMARDA, Cato Anaya, Corey James, Sunday Noise, Tony Calrya, Vee Brondi, and Versus, to name a few.
Your new collaboration with Stevie Krash & Pete K ‘Soul Heaven’ is out now on Kryder’s ‘God Save The Groove Vol. 2’ compilation. Can you tell us about how you three came together for the track?
Stevie Krash sent me the song in its early stages. I was really excited to receive the track and I had a lot of ideas for it so of course I wanted to join the collaboration. As we were creating the song Pete K got ahold of our version of ‘Soul Heaven’ and wanted to add to it. We then premiered the song together during his closing set at Third Party’s ADE event last year. Before its spring release, ‘Soul Heaven’ was one of the top songs dropped throughout Miami Music Week.
It’s well known that you & Kryder are quite close. From your early days on Sosumi, to the Kryteria livestream in Miami this year, how has his influence helped shape you?
Honestly I’ve never met anyone else who works harder than Kryder. His work ethic is far from none. Having a release on Sosumi Records under my belt before the label closed is something I’m really proud of. And of course being asked to join the ‘God Save the Groove Vol. 2’ compilation was something I was extremely excited about as well. Seeing the growth of Kryteria has been an inspiration when it comes to Zensa.
Your own label, Zensa Records, is quickly gaining momentum amongst the Groove/Progressive House community! With artists such as Erick T, Mr. Sid, Sunday Noise having already released tracks on Zensa, it’s only set to grow even further. What are your plans for the label’s future?
We have a lot of releases to come in 2019 on Zensa. Aside from our releases I’ve really spent the time to search for the right people to work for my label. I’m proud to say that we have an amazing staff at Zensa now who are going to help push this label even further to put out quality, outside-the-box, unique content.
Speaking of Zensa, your new collaboration with Erick T ‘House 4 Life’ is out now on your imprint. What inspired this track? How did the idea turn into a reality?
Erick T is actually one of the A&Rs that we have at Zensa, so a lot of the creative ideas that we have are shared back and forth so this track ‘House 4 Life’ was a product of that collaborative synergy.
You’re well known for being an advocate of bedroom producers and smaller artists. What’s one underrated piece of advice you’d like to pass on to the producers reading this?
I hope other producers realize that we are living in a different day and age with social media, where it’s okay to not be managed by someone. Taking control of your own career and not relying on someone else to do the work for you is very empowering. Focus on building your platform and everything else will fall into place. I’ve gotten some of the biggest artists in the industry to support me (like Tiesto, Don Diablo and Hardwell), and I did that being 100% independent. Don’t over think it. If the quality is there, that’s all that matters.
What does 2019 hold in store? Any hints or clues that we could get about future productions and collaborations? Interesting gigs in the pipeline?
I can share that Zensa Records’ next upcoming release is a collaboration called ‘Inner Peace’ (premiered below) that I have with Mathias D., who’s a really talented artist from France. Be sure to stay tuned to my socials.