Catching Up With
Jay Shepheard and his fabric x Retrofit Mix

Using a bed of experience garnered from working in the PR and distribution field of electronic music, Jay Shepheard has been doing his own thing very successfully as the label head of Retrofit and a producer in his own right. Looking at the wider music press over the last few months you'd be hard pressed to find a title that hasn't offered praise to his latest album, Seeing Sound - a release that fully takes advantage of Shepheard’s experience on the dancefloor, perfectly combining his ear for up-vibed disco and house cuts and honing in on the sound that has come to define Retrofit.

With a label takeover due to land in Room Three this coming Saturday night, which’ll feature Jacques Renault and Namedrop guesting, we took a few minutes to catch up with the individual behind the outfit to ask him about exactly how he's going to go about his live set come the weekend and what's next to come on the agenda. All of this comes presented alongside a new and exclusively recorded promo mix from Shepheard's own hands…

Download: Jay Shepheard - fabric x Retrofit Mix

What kind of place were you in when you were writing the record? Can you call upon any particular influences that were behind it?

This project was basically written over about a year while I was travelling about gigging, not so much writing on the road as I always prefer to work in my studio than on a laptop and headphones. All the gigging and music I was playing out fed into the influences on the record - I was playing the tracks out a lot while in development.

It feels like it really is a club focused record but with each track successfully capturing a different energy – would you say it’s reflection of the experience you’ve got from the dancefloor?

Yes certainly, the concept was to make an album of DJ friendly tracks for playing out so its definitely a reflection of my club experience, both as a punter and a DJ. I produced a CD album for home listening in 2013 so I wanted to contrast that with a double 12" club project. This isn't the kind of record that I would put on at home to listen to from start to finish, but I often play most or all of the tracks over a 3 hour DJ set for example. For me its boring to hear a DJ just keeping things at the same level or energy through a set, there really needs to be peaks and troughs and some kind of journey, with this record I wanted to bring together various tracks to fit these different needs that also share a similar sound design and fit together as a release.

It’s been out for a few months now have you time to reflect on it – are you happy with the response you got for it?

Yes sure, its been out for a few months but for me it feels like much longer as I have been playing the tracks in my DJ sets for many months before. The response I was/am getting in the clubs has been great, which is how I arrived at the final track list. Now that its out there have been some great reviews from publications like Pitchfork, DJ mag and RA so that's always nice to hear too.

What kind of stuff are you working on now?

I've been in the studio pretty hard the last few months, after doing two longer projects almost back to back (Home & Garden and Seeing Sound) I'm really looking forward to going back to an EP based release schedule for the next year or two. When I started out (mostly releasing on Compost and also Buzzin Fly and the early Retrofit days) I was releasing at least three EPs per year and a few remixes - so having having now worked on a couple of longer projects am looking forward to working on some EPs again. I also want to get back into doing a few remixes, I had a break from this for a while but have just done one for Lets Play House which will be out in spring. I'm also working on my first collaboration for a while for a new Retrofit release too, date is TBC but def before summer!

Speaking of Retrofit – why and just how long ago now did you feel that running a label was something you wanted to do?

Quite a while back I think. Before I produced music and DJed for a living, full time, I did various music industry jobs, first in music PR as a junior press officer and then 7 years at a record store (Juno) doing all kinds of different jobs, so I've always had a good idea about the back end of running a label, pressing, distribution, promo etc. So its something I had on my mind for a long time and once I felt I had enough profile to do so I was quite quick to set it up

"For me its boring to hear a DJ just keeping things at the same level or energy through a set, there really needs to be peaks and troughs and some kind of journey"

Can you tell us about the artists involved – like what are you looking for in someone’s music when signing a release?

I like to work with friends a lot, it makes for fun label parties working this way. But the primary aspect is that the music just has to fit the feel of the label. I think its important for a label to have an identity musically so that's always forefront for me.

You’ve been touring Retrofit parties a lot and this it not the first time you’ve brought the label’s sound to Room Three can you tell us a bit about what can be expected?

I'm really excited about this one! Mark aka Namedrop who's warming up for us is one of my favourite London DJs, he works with the DJ History website and always has an ear for great eclectic sets. Then there will be a live act from myself featuring a lot of the new productions I mentioned above and we also have another of my favourite DJs: Jacques Renault from Lets Play House in NYC who appeared on Retrofit last year, so yeah, cant wait for this one!

What’s been your highlights from touring the label events so far?

We do Watergate in Berlin two times per year which is always great as its our sort of "home gig" as far as the label is concerned. fabric is always great too, love the sound in Room Three and because I am originally from London its great way to see all my London friends in once place. Another recent highlight was Badaboum in Paris where we had Art Of Tones join us a few weeks ago.

What’s your live set looking like at the moment? Can you tell us a bit about the set up?

I'm running it pretty compact. The fashion at the moment seems to be for artists to cart about a plane load of modular synths and antiquated drum machines with them - I prefer a more light and effective method (a la Henrik Schwarz & Marc Houle etc) with the focus on whats coming from the speakers rather than how many twinkly lights are in front of me. I run 8 channels via Ableton with the Livid Instruments Alias 8. Its perfect, allows just the right flexibility to break up the tracks into parts or loops, cut channels in and out, FX and EQ etc and just have a good jam with it.

What’s next for you in 2015?

I'm working on some new tracks for some EPs and a bit of collaboration work. Also starting to plan some longer trips and tours DJ wise for later in the year in Asia and Australia.

You’ve recorded a mix for us can you tell us a bit about how you went about your selections?

Yes indeed! Its a real blend this one, a kind of mini version of what I like to do in my club sets, covering house, disco and techno. Hope you dig!


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