#11 From Day Job to DJ: Electronic Music & Eric Sharp

He was quiet but cool standing amongst friends at an "everyone must wear a hat party" at the hip Art spaces in Santa Monica's Bergamot Station. I can't say I remember what hat he wore that night, but I remember the warmth of his personality and, oh yeah, that mustache!

Eric is one of those guys I'm always excited to see. Though he is reserved, it's not because he doesn't have much to say; what he does say is shared consciously, with a focused connection with who he's meeting. He makes others feel like they matter. Seeing Eric feels like a relief, "YES! Eric is here!" my brain exclaims before engaging in a long, oxytocin-inducing hug. 

And besides his beautiful personality? Well, he's full of passion and talent. As a DJ, Eric has brought his own style of intelligent, sophisticated, somatic house music comfortably to intimate private parties, club nights, and massive festivals alike. With his record label Rock It Science Laboratories and his personal productions Eric expands his impact beyond simply a purveyor of taste and into a true creator. 

Of course there was a time when Eric wasn't a DJ and it was only five years ago that he 180'd into his passion full-time. Eric shares insight on his years moonlighting in the music industry before diving into DJing and how today he's enjoying freedom, friends and having fun.

"I needed to choose a path. It was one of the scariest and most difficult decisions of my life, forsaking comfort and security for an adventure. I was painfully broke for quite some time, just scraping by with the hope that things would grow." 

Five years ago you were 9 to 5'ing it. When was it during that time that you realized your heart wasn't in it? What sort of thoughts or feelings came up for you?

I did enjoy marketing work; some of the most brilliant minds I've come into contact with are people from that field. I was challenged in interesting ways. However the aspect of marketing that did not resonate with me was the idea of getting people to spend money they don't have on things that they don't need. Consumer culture is so embedded in American life and I see this as a root of personal insecurity whereby we constantly seek external solutions to internal feelings of inadequacy. 

So then what inspired you to pursue music full time?

Life is short and I will regret the things I don't do as opposed to the things I do. I opened to a possibility of living a fully inspired life immersed in passion. I'm not entirely there yet but I am much closer and feel I make progress consistently. 

How did you transition?

I was DJing for 5 years while I was working in other positions so it was simply a tipping point where both my DJ career and marketing career were growing and I needed to choose a path. It was one of the scariest and most difficult decisions of my life, forsaking comfort and security for an adventure. I was painfully broke for quite some time, just scraping by with the hope that things would grow. It wasn't until I moved to LA from SF and established myself here that DJing became a viable, solvent revenue stream supported by a booking agent who keeps me busy.

What's a day in the life like for you?

I don't know if I have typical days. Generally I wake up around 10 or 11 am and clear my head. I look at my to do list (usually made the night before) and prioritize, sending any necessary communications. I own and operate a music label too so there is a lot of communication required for that. I delegate some work to my intern. Some days I take meetings or lunches, other days I hole up and work on producing original music either by myself or with a collaborator. I go hiking or to a yoga class as often as I can. I get to travel a bit for gigs which is also fun and something I'd like to do a lot more of. Usually I DJ 3 or 4 nights per week between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am. I also make time for personal friendships, movie screenings, and social gatherings. 

What do you enjoy most about your life these days? What are you loving?

I enjoy freedom and flexibility the most about my life. I love making new friends and exploring the world around me.

Who inspires you?

Surrealist painters like Salvador Dali and Rob Gonsalves. Spiritual healers like Thich Nhat Hanh. Too many talented musicians to name. The creative and people I am surrounded with in my daily life.

Would you recommend taking a big leap into a 180 career change or moonlighting for some time? What factors should one consider?

I don't think there is an easy answer, everyone has to consider their own situation. How risk averse are you? How important is security vs adventure? Do other people depend on you for stable income? Is there a viable revenue stream from the path you will shift to? I know this is focused a lot around money and for some people that may not be an issue at all; for me this reflects the experience of scarcity I endured when stepping out into artistry. I don't think I could have built things to the point where I am had I continued working a day job, however I was able to get fairly far into my music career while moonlighting. 

If you could go back and give your former self one piece of advice, how old would you be and what words of wisdom would you give?

18. Don't go to college. Buy turntables and learn to produce electronic music. Savor your youth!

Get listening, your ears will enjoy:

http://www.RISLabs.com
http://www.facebook.com/ericsharpmusic
http://www.twitter.com/ericsharp