Two super talented, fun and down to earth guys, and a huge hit. Sultan + Ned Shepard are the headlining DJ producer duo behind the kicking remix of Bruno Mars ‘’Locked Out Of Heaven” which has been supported and played by top international DJs such as David Guetta and Nicky Romero and Grammy Nominees for Best Remixed Recording at this year’s 56th Grammy Awards. Impressive! 2014 looking busy and bright for the Duo, with their new residency starting next month at one of Vegas’s most eclectic nightclubs – Light and top billing at the most happening festivals around the world such as Electric Daisy Carnival New York TomorrowLand and Mysteryland in Chile., they certainly know how to get the crowd going. Their new single ‘All These Roads’ feat. Zella Day & Sam Martin on Parametric Records / Atlantic is available now on Beatport.com and iTunes.
When did you start DJing?
Sultan – I started in 2001 in Montreal Canada – when I started DJing I was playing a lot of underground, techno and deep house then played progressive then switched over to Electro, the styles change every year so we adapt to go with what’s going on in the scene.
Ned – I started in 2003/2004, I actually started when I met Sultan, I was producing and he was Djing and then I started Djing as well, the scene was very different then, much more underground and a niche alternative. There were still big DJ’s back then, but they were just big in that world as opposed to now where it is more out there. Things have changed so much since we started, when we first started, the main DJ’s were Deep Dish, Carl Cox, Sasha, Dig Weed. They were mainly European DJ’s not many Big American guys and we hardly played in the US, it was mainly South America and Europe.
What makes you decide to play a particular record during one of your sets? Is there a criteria other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play at a gig?
Sultan – As a DJ you learn over the years to adapt to the dance floor and play what people want to hear, you mix it up with stuff that you want to play and that what you know that they want to hear.
When you are at the big festivals, people want to hear the same stuff but we’ll hash it in our own way with our own edits and then we will drop in new stuff that people haven’t heard to mix it up a little bit.
Do you remember a specific moment — hearing a particular song or an artist maybe — when you knew you wanted to be a DJ? Or was it more of a gradual thing?
Sultan – Seeing Sasha and Digweed in New York and then after seeing Deep Dish play in Montreal – that’s when I really go into it.
Ned – When I was 14, a friend put a pair of earphones on me with Underworld playing really loud – the sounds were so amazing to me, I was blown away, and it went from there. I grew up in New York so was around all the big DJ’s all the time, Sasha Digweed, Dani Tenaglia, François K and Danny Krivit so was immersed in the whole culture of it but when I listened to Underworld that was really the initial inspiration.
What do you look to for inspiration when writing music?
Anything and everything, our lives is probably where the most inspiration comes from and listening to music, when you have something that you feel really strongly about in your life you can channel that really easy into your music, sometimes just driving around listening to the radio we both love Indy music we listen to a lot of that so we get a lot of inspiration from that, also sometimes you get inspired when you are at the festival and hear some DJ drop crazy mix and think, this is sick and want to do something like that.
What is the best city that you guys have traveled to as a tourist/working?
Sultan – As a tourist – Prague Czech Republic. DJing – Maui Huawei
Ned – As a vacation Colombia – DJing South America is great Chile, Argentina, Peru – the fans there are amazing!
Who is the best ambassador for the genre?
NED – Tricky question, I don’t think that there is just one good ambassador, there are good ambassadors for all different styles of music: Carl Cox for underground music, Pete Tong, Tiesto then you have David Guetta and Calvin Harris on the pop side, they are great ambassadors and these guys are on platforms, they have their own stages at festivals and have huge radio shows.
What is the best part of life as a DJ?
Sultan – The 5-star Hotels, Hanging out at some of the best in the world, although that spoils you!
And the worst?
Sultan – Probably maintaining a social life back home, you tend to lose touch with people.
What has been your best show?
Ned – We have had so many good ones this year, the one in Montreal at New City Gas was great, we had a cool production for our logo as a plus so they had this giant LED screen that was in the shape of a plus it was pretty amazing.
Sultan – EDC New York, Mysteryland Chile, TomorrowWorld was awesome…. there were so many great festivals that we played this year!
What does it feel like when you are up on stage?
Ned – It’s a little overwhelming, you kind of focus on what you need to do and then when you relax a little you can enjoy and take in the people in front of you. You see so much different stuff going on that it’s fun, and you enjoy it a lot!
Sultan – my eyesight sucks! I don’t wear contacts or glasses when I go up on stage, so it’s a bit blurry, which kinda helps a little bit!
Once the Music starts playing, we are so into the music we start feeling and start dancing and getting into it and then seeing the other people getting into it, it’s a big rush.
How did your remix for Bruno Mars come about?
Ned – The label hit us up right when the song was just about to be released, we had been talking to Atlantic about doing a remix so they were looking for the right song, and then we got this opportunity with Bruno Mars, they gave us two songs from Bruno to choose from so we decided this song we loved it. We didn’t know how big that record was going to be and then it became such a huge hit, that the remix has also become a anthem on its own, so when you hear it in the club every one sings along to it. It worked out perfectly.
Have you actually met with Bruno or was it all remote?
Ned– All the work was remote, but one night in Vegas at Surrender and we started our set with that record, and he came up and said what’s up! Although we haven’t had a chance to get into the studio, that would be awesome.
Are there any other artists you would love to collaborate with or remix?
Sultan -Justin Timberlake, I have always been a big fan! To do a collaboration with him would be great.
Which DJ/producers are your ‘Ones To Watch’ this year?
Paris & Simo, John Dish…
Tell us about your residency in Las Vegas?
Sultan/ Ned – We have been at XS for the past 2 years, its been an amazing time with them they have been like a family to us, and this year we have decided to move to a new residency at the Light and explore some different opportunities there, they have a great production, and have a partnership with Cirque de Soleil, they’ve got this massive LED wall, and behind the wall they have Dancers and acrobats doing stuff behind the wall so at certain points the visuals you can see through it, it’s incredible, the space is great, we are excited and we will be starting in the Spring.
What do you guys think about the new EDM era in Vegas?
Sultan – It’s slowing down…
Ned – Well yes and no, it’s hard to tell because when we first were playing there, there were only a couple of places that were playing and now there is so much more choice so it feels like it’s slowing down but it actually has expanded.
Sultan – I think that the saturation in Vegas is definitely declining you’re going to see a lot more of hip-hop open format, drum and bass all that kind of stuff coming in, much more variety rather than just electronic.
Which are your top 3 festivals in the world to play?
EDC, TomorrowLand / TomorrowWorld & Mysteryland
What are your plans for 2014?
A lot of collaborations this year, we are doing something with Dillon Francis and another artist that we can’t talk about just yet. Then we have our label Harem Records that we are putting more clubby music on, we also have a collaboration with Tegan and Sara that is in the works that we are hoping to put out early this year and we are doing a mix with The Boxer Rebellion which is a British Indie band, their music is great so excited about that.
Check the talented pair out: sultanshepard.com
Photos: Chelsea Werner