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We Need To Talk About Shayper

Cutting through on the forefront of that new hybrid D&B style, Shayper is a name that you’ll becoming more and more familiar with in 2022.

Having honed his craft over the years as a DJ, since stepping up and taking it seriously in 2019, he’s leapt from sonic strength to strength by way of releases on the likes of Serial Killaz and Sub-Division.

Doubling down on his chops throughout the lockdowns – picking up releases on the likes of Liondub International, Audio Addict, Deep In The Jungle and Beats In Mind – he’s emerged from the shadows of covid with a whole string of exceptional releases. Most notably this month as he lands on Program, Four Corners and Grand Theft Audio.

Developing a penchant for big emotional intros, sound design that makes your ears turn inside out with delight and a sound that respectfully nods just as much to neuro as it does jump-up, he’s got plenty more in store this year. Intrigued to know more, we called him up to find out more. The hype starts now…

Releases on Program and Four Corners this month. What a time to be a Shayper!

It’s unbelievable man. I’m so happy with all the releases lined up and Melinki has commissioned a video for my track This Ends Now which is amazing. Yeah, I’m buzzing!

Love that video

It’s funny story. I heard that Noisia played one of my tunes at Printworks and Annix asked me for the tune, which blew my mind. Melinki asked if it was still available, but it was already coming out on Program so I sent over a load of other things and he wanted This Ends Now and he told me he had an idea for a video for it. That was in December/early January so now it’s awesome to see the final thing out there.

Awesome. Let’s go back and see how you got here. I get the impression that you’ve been working on beats for a long, long time before you started putting anything out…

Yeah. I’ve been doing things since my dad got me Reason around 15 years ago. I started DJing when I was at uni, in fact my first ever gig was the O2 Arena playing after Zane Lowe.

Woah…

Yeah! Then I supported Rudimental the year after! I stopped doing it for a while, though. Then I picked it back up again did a Rough Tempo show for a while. I was doing some bits here and there but not really feeling it. Then my laptop died, including the back up hard drive, so I stopped things pretty much entirely for a while and had a family. Then eventually I got back on it and I can’t thank Sub-Division and Guzi enough to give me the opportunity to come back into things, it’s been such a great experience and I’ve just been making as much music as I can since. It’s been a wild ride over the last few years.

Big up Guzi! Also big up Serial Killaz, they’ve played a role in this new Shayper chapter haven’t they?

Absolutely. I released on their mixtape a few years back. Funnily enough my father in law knows Basement Phil who put me in touch with Tobie Scopes.

Ah yeah, they ran Nu Urban together didn’t they?

Exactly. I messaged Tobie a few tunes and he took Heavy Soul then I built up the courage to send a full EP which they signed. That was amazing to get that out. it was the first big, ‘Oh my god I’m getting somewhere!’ feeling. Ever since then I’ve always sent them my music first. They’ve given some great advice and been really solid with their support. I think I’m too techy and out there for them now but I still send it to them first.

I had this dark period where I was sending music to a lot of labels and they were saying it’s good but not a fit for the label. Then James from Sola suggested sending things to Program. He gave me Jim Ram’s email and he picked them up straight away. That happened and we’re talking about more releases in the future.

 

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That’s great. I think because your sound is part of that exciting new hybrid fusion of tech and jump-up you’ll always find labels not knowing what do with the music because it’s quite different…

It is and I do love it all; I love jungle, I love rollers, I love jump-up. But what I really, really love doing are these great emotional introductions then going ham on the sound design. I get told off by Guzi for going too mental. But I love it, and I love playing these tunes to crowds who’ve never heard sounds like that and don’t know how to respond to it.

I love that. The emotion factor you mentioned is really important to that though, isn’t it?

Definitely. Before my Serial Killaz EP I was really scared of writing intros because I didn’t have any music theory but I got Addictive Keys and a bigger keyboard and started tinkering around. It’s really good fun! I’ve done a tune with a two-minute intro recently. Actually This Ends Now has a big intro too – I love that, I love the journey of it and creating that. It sounds pretentious but I want to tell a story and writing intros helps you do that. It gives you space to bring more of your own personality.

Intros suck you into the tune a lot more too don’t they?

Yeah. I’m massively into Matthew Webb who’s also known as Konquest and used to be known as Block Dodger. He does a lot of neuro but he also does these great cinematic things for his day job. Some of the stuff he does is insane! I talk to him a lot and some of the packs he has. It’s so inspiring. Neil Transforma is another inspiring peer who I learn a lot off, too. It’s great to have these types of people around you, isn’t it?

Yeah man. That community vibe is so important when you’re on your own in a studio trying to be creative all the time isn’t it?

That’s right! You’re stuck in a room going crazy. Especially when we were all stuck in with covid. That’s what inspired This Ends Now. Couldn’t go out, couldn’t go and see friends, all we could do to engage with music was watch streams. When things started to get a bit more back to normal I wanted an intro tune that released all the frustration I’d felt during covid. I’d seen so many friends struggling financially and mentally. I wanted to put a tune together to put a stamp on it and say this ends now. It’s the start of getting back to normal again.

Have you played it yet?

Not yet. It wasn’t finished when I had some gigs last year. I don’t like playing unfinished tracks – I’ve done it before but regretted it because they sound so wank in comparison to everything else I’m playing! When I was playing out before covid I hadn’t really made that many tunes, so coming out of it, with these new tunes, I’m still a bit wary dropping anything I haven’t finished properly.

Do you play a lot locally? There seems to be quite a lot of sick producers in your area… T>I, Conrad Subs, Upgrade, Limited. What’s the scene like in the south east?

Before covid it was hard to get a licence for gigs. I know Matty T>I used to put on nights, and he’s brought his Colours rave back, which is amazing. Also big shouts to Callum Bishop a house producer who puts on these amazing D&B nights at the Cabana Club.

I played one last year supporting K Motionz and the vibes were amazing. It was like old school Norwich like 10 or 15 years ago. There were some amazing nights here. I’d be coming back and forth from London to here. A lot of Playaz, Ram and Dub Police nights in London then coming back home to all these sick nights here. It was an interesting time in D&B wasn’t it? The music was feeling its feet and finding its sound after the big jump-up boom of the 2000s and that set the whole tone for the last decade.

Then post-covid it feels like a new wave again with so many people coming through like Transforma, Kaisen Flow, Elder who’s also from Norwich who is making Camo & Krooked style drum & bass at a really high level. All these people coming through with great ideas and they’re being supported too – I’m seeing a lot of their names on line-ups, which is great to see the new blood being supported.

You’re part of that too, I’d say. You’ve used lockdown as a great time to get your productions together and level up. With This Ends Now there’s a pretty strong political vibe too. Would you say you’re politically motivated man?

Yes I am but as much as I’m passionate about it, I’d rather have a conversation with my friends than strangers on social media. I’d seen artists getting shot down for bringing politics to the discussion and it’s such a shame.

I am pro-science and pro-vaccination because I work in the care industry and have seen the positive results of it. I respect other people’s decisions but I’d rather have a conversation with someone in  real life than on social media – it’s too easy to miss someone’s tone or point of view and make a confrontation about it. I don’t want to fight people in that way.

No nuance! Life is too short, you mentioned you have a family, you also have a job and you’re making music… no time to argue with strangers!

100%

So what else is happening in your musical world?

I’ve got a collab with Sola on their Solaborations EP called Alone, which is another pandemic inspired tune, then the Program release is out after that. Plus it’s my wife’s birthday and my birthday this month so every Friday there’s something going on.

What happens after April?

I’ve got some tunes coming on Korsakov on a VA, I’ve got a two track release on Guzi’s new label, then there’s a lot of things I can’t quite confirm yet. I’m trying to get some gigs but I’m terrible at managing my own gigs and networking with promoters or marketing myself that way, but I do need to do a bit more of that. And of course making as much music as possible. If it gets released, that’s’ a bonus – if not, I’ve had fun making it and that’s really the most important thing, right?

Shayper – This Ends Now / Funk You is out now on Four Corners Music

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