[INTERVIEW] Sherm Dives Into His Podcast, House Music, North Coast Highlights, + More
Meet Sherm, a dynamic artist with roots in LA and Indiana, now thriving in the vibrant music scene of Chicago. Sherm wears many hats in the industry – DJ, producer, podcast host, A&R, artist manager, and event curator – all fueled by one unwavering goal: to make a lasting impact.
With notable releases on labels like Hood Politics, Bring The Kingdom, House of Hustle, and more, and support for global acts like Galantis, Armin Van Buuren, and Gorgon City, Sherm is a force to be reckoned with. Tune in as we dive into his one-of-a-kind journey as an artist and prominent member of dance music.
Check out iEDM's exclusive interview with Sherm below.
iEDM: Can you tell us about your journey into the music industry and how you became an A&R for Hood Politics?
Sherm: It has been a 10-year journey for me in the music industry. I started off DJing in college at Indiana University and had the opportunity to open for artists like 3LAU and Audien. I fell in love with performing and continued my pursuit as an artist to Chicago in 2015. Since then, I have launched a podcast that is seven years running with over 200 episodes, opened for artists like Armin Van Buuren, John Summit, Galantis, and Matroda, performed at festivals like North Coast, and toured across the country in cities such as San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Miami, and New York.
A huge component of my success has been through my music productions and partnering with labels that believe in my tracks. Hood Politics was one of the first labels to sign my music, and I had an instant connection with DJ Susan and the rest of the crew. It’s a lean team and they needed help with front and backend work.
I have come in over the past two years and helped develop a streamlined communication process between the label and the artists releasing on Hood Politics. I want to deliver a best-in-class experience for every artist – you can easily tell when a label and an artist are excited about a track, and the fans certainly can too. I love my Hood Poli fam SO much! iEDM: Congrats on being selected to host a panel and showcase at ADE 2023! What attendees can expect from each of these events? Which topics or discussions do you intend to explore during the panel, and why are they important to you?
Sherm: Thank you! The interesting thing about this panel is that I proposed the idea to ADE. The title is “The Tech House/House Boom in the US” and features DJ Susan of Hood Politics Records, Kaysin who is A&R of Repopulate Mars, and Carissa Szlosek, the former assistant manager of Confession and artist manager Prodigy Artists.
Last year at ADE, a huge focus was how to have success in America as a label, artist, or manager/agent. Our goal is to provide insight on what we have learned growing these labels and how both foreigners and Americans can grow their brands and followings in the United States’ house market. One can expect an extremely engaged conversation and valuable Q&A as well.
iEDM: What inspired you to start your podcast, and how has it contributed to your growth as an artist, and overall role in the music industry?
Sherm: I started SITB (Sherm In The Booth) as a way to network in the Chicago scene. When I came to Chicago, I thought I would be able to get gigs and meet people quickly. Basically, I had to get in line. However, instead of waiting in this “line”, I decided to just pull out a microphone and start interviewing every single person in front of me. Getting their story, their influences, their inspirations, and their goals was the perfect way for me to cultivate friendships and opportunities.
When the pandemic hit, I had more time to double down with remote interviews and connect with larger artists. I have had CID, Westend, Honeyluv, DJ Susan, Roland Clark, Autograf, Maddy O’Neal, and so many more globally touring artists on the show. Through these interviews, I have heard their stories of success and failure, which has given me perspective on my own path as an artist.
iEDM: Your podcast, Sherm In The Booth, has featured interviews with such a wide range of talent, coming from many different backgrounds. What is the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned surrounding house music production across all of these conversations?
Sherm: When it comes to house music production specifically, one thing rings true across all conversations: your sound can only be unleashed through the pure love of making music that YOU love. When you veer off and try to follow trends or mimic big producers to find success, it quickly can result in losing that love.
We all are on our own path and the timeline to success is undetermined. Find inspiration through others, collaborate, learn, and listen, but do not lose that love of making something that makes you move, love, laugh, smile.
iEDM: How do you come up with outside-the-box questions when chatting with guests on Sherm In The Booth? Can you shed light on your creative process and how to make each interview highly specific to the artist?
Sherm: I try to ask questions that they have never heard and will never be asked. I take a DEEP dive into their discography, starting from the first record they have ever released. By digging deep and taking that time, it makes the guest feel comfortable because they know I have done the research.
I am a genuinely curious person and that shines in these interviews. While I do take the time to curate a list of questions, I usually follow the guests' energy and lean in when and where they let me. It is kind of an art to an extent – it is a feeling.
iEDM: What advice would you give to people who want to start their own EDM-based podcast, but do not yet have any connections within the industry? What are a few solid tactics for them to land their dream special guest?
Sherm: Similar to the music production question – make sure you love the topics, guests, format, etc. It is one thing to want to start a podcast, another thing to launch one, then stay consistent, then grow, then monetize, then revolutionize. You have to stay consistent for YEARS, my friends.
Target people you are interested in and explain to them your purpose and interest. Put yourselves in their shoes. Do you have any common friends, experiences, or anything that can cut the “cold call” aspect of asking? I definitely didn’t think some of these guests would want to come on, let alone respond. But they did and they are now my friends! iEDM: You have received support from prominent artists like Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike, John Summit, and DJ Susan. How does it feel to have your work recognized and endorsed by such established figures in the industry?
Sherm: It’s incredible! You put yourself out there for years and always have doubts. Will fans like my music? Will DJs want to play it live or on the radio? The list goes on. I think we can all agree that some validation from successful individuals in your industry is certainly a good feeling.
iEDM: Can you break down your typical production process, and what themes or sound components you often incorporate into your tracks?
Sherm: It actually varies a lot. I have trouble starting tracks unless it is a remix or edit. Since I started as a DJ, I know what can really make a track work for a live audience. Lately I’ve been finishing up a ton of collabs with producers and have been able to bring the tracks full circle. I am a big fan of call and response. Whether it’s through vocals, synths, or drums, this method can make a track stand out. I like to make a track “talk to you”.
iEDM: In regard to your set at North Coast Festival, how did you prepare for this year’s festival performance?
Sherm: Honestly, I was cooking up a storm for six months. This was not a set, this was a show. I’m talking t-shirt cannons, Chicago Handshakes, new logo, new visuals, new merch, 75 bpm to 150 bpm. It was the biggest show I have ever played and I took full advantage of that. Expect the unexpected was the message.
iEDM: What were the highlights of your set and general experience at North Coast? What unique elements makes North Coast a one-of-a-kind festival to you?
Sherm: Best North Coast ever! North Coast is a very special festival for many reasons. It has been around for a long time and has a very dedicated fanbase of “Coasties”. I played a wide variety of music and it is such a great feeling seeing the crowd get into it with me. Favorite moment was bringing my mom on stage with me during “September” – our favorite song!
iEDM: Looking ahead, what are your goals for the future of your music career and Sherm In The Booth? How do you plan on accomplishing these aspirations?
Sherm: All of my goals come back to ensuring that I am setting myself up for a long, fulfilling and enjoyable career. It is really easy to get caught up in wanting success right away, especially when you start comparing yourself to others that are having success.
My goal is to keep growing at a pace that I can still maintain my level of love and creativity for music. That pace has been ultrafast the past 10 years but now I have set myself up to have time to maintain that core drive to get into music. Expect unique and exciting expansions with my music, podcast, and live show experience. I want to absolutely deliver on everything I do in music.
Photos courtesy of Sherm.