2 Minutes With … Sharooz Raoofi, Artist, Producer and Entrepreneur

On the balance of power leaning toward creators

Sharooz is the founder of Wavetick, Sample Magic, Attack Magazine, Audiaire and Principle Pleasure Studios. He helped pioneered the market for downloadable sounds. In recent years, he has has sold some of his ventures to companies such as Beatport, Splice and BMG.

Sharooz has recorded for the Modular and Fool's Gold labels. Under the alias Principleasure, his 2019 debut LP was named a Mixmag Electro Album of the Month and topped Bandcamp's Electronica chart.

He has remixed Grammy winners such as Moby and Robyn, created music for motion pictures and served as a sound designer for Roland, Apple and Korg. In addition, he has worked with Red Bull Music Academy and lectured at UCLA.

We spent two minutes with Sharooz to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Sharooz, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now. 

I grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the '80s, and I currently reside mostly in Los Angeles. 

Your earliest musical memory.

Marching band demonstrations in the religious civil war in Belfast—an incredible display of color, pomp and celebration—were an assault on the senses. The sound of that bass drum goes right through your chest—the connotations are dark and divisive. It was bizarre, and at times frightening, to be caught up in all of that.

Your favorite bands/musicians today.

Pablo Bozzi for making Italo fun again. John Tejada for inspiring me for over 25 years. Chinaski, DMX Krew, Nils Frahm for making classical accessible to heathens like me. Ludwig Goransson for his beautiful soundtracks. Sevdaliza for her insanely brilliant weirdness. Juan Atkins and The Art of Noise for starting it all. Erol Alkan for keeping the fires burning. All innovators in their own timeless fashion.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.

I often get asked to be in videos and make preset sounds for synthesizers. I absolutely love doing this type of work. I've done a lot for Korg's recent releases, and it's always a pleasure to get the call.

A recent project you're proud of.

Wavetick. We're going to revolutionize how music is licensed and how creators get paid. We've looked at every possible pain point and tried to solve them in as frictionless a way as possible. I've been ripped off so many times as an artist—all creators have. We shouldn't stand for it. Wavetick was built with the unfair distribution of income in the music business as its primary problem to solve.

One thing about how the music world is evolving that you're excited about.

The balance of power toward independent creators. It's happening slowly, but it's wonderful to see. Even Spotify is showing promising data about the balance of indies vs. major artists. The easier it gets for us to independently subsist, the better this ecosystem will be for everyone.

Someone else's work, in music or beyond, that you admired lately.

Trevor Jackson. A designer (he did a sleeve for me many moons ago), curator of electronic music and part-time custodian (and I suppose you could say historian) of the London club scene since the early '80s.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring. 

The last film I watched was Anatomy of a Fall. It was different—low budget, slow, but an exceptional storyline with incredible performances from everyday people.

An artist you admire outside the world of music.

Jon Rafman—his stuff is incredibly, slyly humorous, brilliant. Minor Daemon was insane and his Legendary Reality film for Leonard Cohen was equally awesome.

Your favorite fictional character.

Christian Slater's Clarence Worley in True Romance. I spent many teenage years wishing I was him. Still do, to be honest. The futility of rebellion for rebellion's sake. He's flawed, almost fatally so. But who isn't?

How musicians should approach working with brands.

In this age, one has to think very carefully about how and why they are sought and what part their music is going to play in the overall brand strategy. If you start by asking yourself these questions and reverse engineering the food chain, you make it 200 percent easier to find your fit.

How brands should approach working with musicians.

Do not commoditize creators. Make them feel valued. Don't let your creative direction change what they sought to do in the first place. Most creators feel unfairly pressured by this and don't want to make choices that they aren't necessarily driving.

A mentor who helped you navigate the industry.

John Reid (not Elton John's), the former London Records head and Def Jam exec. I was terrified of him. I was 21 when I worked for him. He was a force to be reckoned with—never met a man who swore so much and so loudly, at everyone—mostly his own staff. I strangely miss those characters. You don't get them in music tech.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music business.

Probably trying to be Clarence Worley.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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