Sultan + Shepard Interview: Canadian duo talks forthcoming album & analyze today’s music scene
Generating massive amounts of momentum with the subsequent release of album singles, Sultan + Shepard are looking to cement their position at the very pinnacle of the dance music scene. Fresh off their most recent single, ‘Where Are You?’, taken from their forthcoming debut album, Canadian Grammy nominees are one of the biggest duos in the industry that effortlessly bridge the gap between dance music and pop. Having launched Viralbpm‘s 2018 with an exclusive Sultan + Shepardinterview -following our ADE 2017 meetup- we sat down with the talented duo once again, to talk about their latest releases, upcoming album, favorite artists, memorable moments, while they also share their thoughts, analyzing today’s EDM scene.
V1. 1. Let’s start with your most recent track on Armada Records, “Where Are You?”. How would you describe the song and what makes it so special?
Sultan + Shepard: This is a melodic house track- we’ve always loved the concept of a good melodic house song with strong vocals and strings and melodies. That style of house music was really a huge influence on us. Andreas’ vocals really were special- he’s got such a great tone and he’s a great writer- so we just wanted to elevate the music to fit his performance.
V2. You collaborated with Andreas Moss on the vocals, who did an excellent job. How did you meet and when did you decide to work together on this track?
Sultan + Shepard: We met through another writer but it turned out we had a bunch of mutual friends which is always nice. We felt like his voice had this classic house vibe to it, so we played him a few chord progressions and he just started going and the rest came really quickly!
V3. What tools, instruments or programs did you use for recording the song. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about your work in the studio in general when you’re recording your own songs.
Sultan + Shepard: Pianos and wurlitzer were the main feeling, but we also used a lot of string patches to give it that symphonic feeling. There’s also a bit of live bass that Sultan played just to give the low end a little more feeling. We usually put down chords and start writing the vocal around that. Once we have a rough vocal then we’ll build the track around that, sometimes changing everything that was there when we recorded the vocals. In this particular case, Andreas’ melody was perfect over the original chords, so we just added the bass and drums. Once we had that we felt like something was missing, so we added the strings and that made it feel done for us.
V4. What do you have planned regarding releases and songs for 2019? Anything you can already reveal to us?
Sultan + Shepard: Yes! We’re excited to let everyone know that we’re working on our debut album and it will be out in the first part of 2019. Where Are You is one of the singles and we will include some of the tracks we’ve released in the last year plus a bunch of new ones!
V5. 2018 is almost over, so we would like to know if you have any standout moments or events, if you look back at the whole year and the work you’ve done in the studio and during live events?
Sultan + Shepard: Going to the Juno’s in Vancouver this year because we were nominated for Best Dance Recording for our song Almost Home was definitely a highlight. It’s always cool to be nominated for something and recognized by your peers. Our remix for Fatboy Slim’s “Gangster Tripping” which came out in September of this year was also a highlight because he was a big inspiration for us when we started and still to this day. The fact that his tracks sound great 20 years later is crazy and that we got to remix one of our heroes is always amazing. Plus a lot of DJ’s played that record which always feels great :).
V6. What’s your favorite song or album from another artist this year? Something that really stroke you in 2018 that you would like to mention?
Sultan + Shepard: Rufus du Sol’s new music is really beautiful and combines lots of genres really nicely. We’ve been listening to that stuff a lot.
V7. How do you feel about the electronic music scene in general nowadays? Are there things that you like or maybe dislike when you think about the genre as a whole or maybe even the music business in general?
Sultan + Shepard: It’s a pretty wild landscape out there to be honest. Up until about three years ago, the electronic scene, at least on the club side was much more cohesive. There was always the under-ground and the commercial sides but most of those DJ’s all knew each other and within those scenes everyone was pretty friendly. But the EDM explosion really created so much interest in producing and DJ’ing that now there are just so many new producers and DJ’s and so each part of the scene is more fragmented and there’s just more people out there.
On the music level this means there’s a lot more stuff to go through and you just don’t have time to hear most of the music- but there’s tons of great stuff being made, especially by really young people which is awesome. Electronic music is reaching more and more people every day and it’s really become a permanent part of the musical landscape, especially here in the US which is really great- the only downside of something getting so huge is that does lose that family vibe, but that’s how it is and we can’t complain because we get to do what we love everyday and we’re grateful for that.
V8. What would you recommend to young artists who want to create their own music and follow a professional career as a DJ or producer?
Sultan + Shepard: Define your own style. There’s no point making songs that just sound like other people- figure out what you love and what you want to add to the musical conversation, don’t just repeat what’s already been said!
V9. We’re really happy that we had the chance to talk with you again, almost a year after we met you in Amsterdam during ADE 2017. Any final words for our readership?
Sultan + Shepard: Yes, you all are doing a great job covering quality music- thank you! And thank you to everyone who is passionate about this music and really supports us. It means the world to us.