After a momumental 2012 for dynamic duo Sultan & Ned Shepard - which included a residency XS in Las Vegas to showcase their DJ talents, re-establishing their own label Harem Records and remixing the one and only Madonnna - we're delighted to welcome them back on 23rd March. Warming up for Fedde le Grand in the Box, expect an hour of unstoppable dance rhythms, some freshly-baked productions and some of the hottest tracks to turn heads so far in 2013.
We caught up with the guys ahead of their set to discuss some of their highlights of last year, their musical inspirations and what to expect from Saturday night. And if that wasn't enough, check out their 'Ones To Watch' playlist for their tips on the tracks that will be big this year. Don't say we didn't warn you!
Hi guys! You had a huge year in 2012 – what were your highlights?
Playing Ultra Music festival was definitely a highlight. The level of excitement and energy there is just amazing, and you know that you are being introduced to a whole new generation of fans. Remixing Madonna of course was incredible because it was one of those things we always wanted to do.
Restarting our label Harem records was a big highlight for us because we love having that outlet for releasing our music and also for signing younger artists who are making exciting music. We've rebranded the whole concept and are going to be building that brand over the next year, so watch out for Harem!
What sparked your move from Montreal to Los Angeles in 2012, considering the former has such a burgeoning music scene at the moment?
We loved Montreal but for us it was time to move. It's true that there is a lot of creativity in Montreal, and Canada has amazing artists (many of whom we're still working with), but every time we came to LA we were able to get so much done! There are so many writers and singers out here that we were having the best time making music here. So we decided it was time for the jump to a bigger pond and haven't really looked back since. We love it here. Also, we've just renewed our residency at XS in Las Vegas. That place has become like a second home for us, so it's great to be so close.
Have you found your style of music has evolved/changed since moving there?
To be honest, our music style is pretty much the same, but our working environment is very different - there's warmth and sunlight and in general a much more relaxed atmosphere. In Montreal, you kind of bunker down because it's so damn cold outside, but out here we can relax more and that makes being in the studio feel more integrated with our life. We can write a bassline in our shorts and then jump into the pool and come back and finish working. That's a big change!
What do you look to for inspiration when writing music?
We listen to lots of non-EDM music - we love indie bands like Walk The Moon, Lykki Li, Sigur Ros, stuff like that. Also hip hop acts like Big Boi from Outkast and Macklemore are great too. We try to incorporate influences from outside of dance music to keep our music sounding fresh. Sites like Hype Machine are great for getting inspiration; we're constantly searching for new music and listening to what's happening in the music world. And of course, what's happening on Beatport is always an important influence, because at the end of the day we still make club music!
How did your remix for Bruno Mars come about?
We got hit up by Atlantic Records in November when the song first was released. We loved the song initially and did the remix pretty fast. We wanted to keep it fresh but also keep the focus on the chorus since it's such a great hook. We were super excited when we got a call from his management saying they loved it, and we're really happy that we got to be a part of that record.
Are there any other artists you would love to collaborate with or remix?
Sultan: I love Justin Timberlake, so working with him would be incredible. Seeing as he has a new album coming out it might be a good time!
Ned: I love Jessie Ware. Her music feels very honest to me and she seems like a super rad girl. I met her for about 2 and half seconds when she played in LA but she probably doesn't remember. Anyways, I'd love to do a record with her.
You've mentioned in a previous interview that you like the idea of becoming a band - have you considered introducing instrumental elements into your production? Who would play what?!
We actually have live instruments in almost every single one of our tracks! Sultan plays the guitar and Ned plays the piano/keys. When we start a record or a remix we usually just jam together to get the chord progression and figure out the bones of the song. Then we transform that into a more electronic format, but we usually end up keeping some of the original instrumentation because we like it and it sounds a little different than most other club tracks. We always feel like a band when we produce and we have to remind ourselves sometimes that we're making club music!
We can't wait to have you back in The Box this Saturday - are there any particular tracks you're looking forward to playing?
Definitely looking forward to playing our remix of Bruno Mars - Locked Out of Heaven. The original is such a hit so we've been getting great reactions on our remix. We've also got a few collaborations coming up that we've done with Fedde that we're all pretty excited about, so we'll have to figure out who is going to play them! Maybe we both will!
Which DJ/producers are your 'Ones To Watch' in 2013?
Paris & Simo - two young producers out of Montreal that we've signed to our label and have been doing some great stuff.
Dean Cohen - A young Israeli producer who is making some amazing music at the moment. His tracks are banging!
What's coming up for you in 2013 and what are you most looking forward to this year?
We've just released our collaboration with Nervo and Omarion called Army, which is currently getting a lot of support. We're pretty happy with the video for that one too. We had a lot of fun filming it - we make a cameo as mechanics! As we mentioned earlier, we've got several tracks coming up with Fedde this year which all are very fresh sounding. We did a remix for Matt Caseli on our label Harem for a track called "Chemical Love" that is really euphoric and we've been getting great reactions on it, that will be out March 11th. We've also done a record for Hardwell's Revealed label, called "Draw Close" with our friends Taurus & Vaggeli which will be out soon. And finally, we're working with the Canadian indie-rockers Tegan & Sara on some original stuff and also our friend Quilla on a proper follow up to the track we did with her last year, "Walls".
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS FOR SATURDAY SESSIONS ON 23.02.2013