It’s funny the assumptions we make about people. About who is important and who is not. Based on I don’t know… these days more than ever, popularity, who has the most followers on social media, who makes the most noise. You know what I mean. We place value on this. Very superficial right? It’s what we do. So when I thought of Shep Beats in the past, I thought of him as Konata’s side kick. Welllll honestly, what was I to think? Out and about I usually see them together and Konata does more of the talking. I knew he was involved in RuK Ah Tuk in some shape or form (I always enjoy that boat fete) and that he is a DJ. That was it. Sorry Shep, I sorry eh. Realllllly sorry. Just shows how much I knew. My perception of him though changed dramatically after having a conversation with him at his last ‘Beaufort by Beats’ event.
Bringing it right back, how did you get into becoming a DJ? I was DJing by the time I was 12 years old. I had a friend who had an old turn table that wasn’t working very well. I called him one time and asked him what are you doing? And he said ‘I’m just messing around with records, come over’. And one day he said, ‘We should be DJs’. As the rest as they say is history. Our parents saw our enthusiasm and fortunately they invested in equipment for us. Top of the line equipment as well. And it kept us out of trouble and at 14 I got my first ever DJ job. A 14th birthday party. And soon after, I was playing school proms, school concerts in Barbados and I started hosting my own events. I hosted my own event when I was 15. That’s just how it happen.
This is your event? This is my own featured event in London, something people can do on a regular basis. It’s supposed to be monthly on every last Tuesday of the month. The reason it jumped at me is because here in London we don’t party on any other time except the weekends.
Why do you think that is? Culture? In London and the UK especially, I find that we are afraid of the job, the 9-5 and the boss. So everyone thinks that to go out on the week day, the next day you can’t make work. But you can be responsible, you can have a good time. I’m giving people the opportunity to go out without going on till 3 o’clock in the morning. So this ends at 12. I know we advertised 1 before but I have changed it to 12 now. 7-12 is 5 hours. It’s a normal party and uh yeah. We just want t o give people something to do other than on a weekend. It’s a mixture between they can just come out and hang with their friends. So we have two parts of the room as you can see. We have the party room and we have the chill out zone where people can have something to eat and later they can join us in the party room. Or they can just stay all night and have a drink with their friends, have a cool casual conversation, meet people. That’s the reason behind Beau by Beats really.
Why here? Why this venue? Huh. Because I like nice places. Nice places doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. And this venue was welcoming to the idea. I asked other places as well who were not as welcoming to the idea. Here they were like ‘Yeah sure, come in play your music loud, bring in your sound system’. This is a member’s club and they were open to the idea. It’s small as well. I didn’t want a 300, 400 person venue for this event. This is supposed to be 100 people a month.
Who are the people you are catering for at this event? Everybody. Everybody who is looking to have a good time. It is not a soca party. It will be a multi genre party each and every time. The idea idea behind the event is that it is not about me. I will be featuring a DJ every month. So whilst I might play, it is all about the DJ that is on my flyer. Every month will be a different DJ. I want to give them the stage as well. People who are serious about the art of DJing and the craft and who want to take their career a little bit further. I am trying to help them as well. I have been fortunate in this game. We haven’t had many DJs who are able to tour and do what I am doing at the moment. So I am trying to get people on the map.
So we have this and then there is Amped Breakfast show on Wednesday mornings. How is that going? That radio show is able the people that join in. Sarah’s here. Sarah Inglifield always joins in. That’s what makes the show. With the show we wanted something that is closer to West Indian Radio. West Indian radio is a party on the air. Here, more tradiontional radio is put on the track, presenter talks for two minutes then track. It’s not a mix of music and we want to bring people in as well. And that it is what it is all about. I sat down one day and thought ‘Yo, British radio is boring. I know people may like it, but it bores me.’ And people seem to like it. We have upwards of 500 listeners a week.
Why don’t you guys push it to 9am. It stops at 8pm. Why? I have a job [laughter]. I have a full time job. I don’t just DJ. So I have to be at work for 9am. If not we would push it. When I leave my job, I will push it for another hour. It’s two hours, it’s quick, it’s high energy.
So for now, you will just keep it on the Wednesday? Just on the Wednesday… We have some things happening, but I can’t share it right now.
You and Konata have a good vibe on the show together. Your energy works together. What do you think makes it work for you two? Hard work, practice and all of this has come together at the moment. We have been doing it a while now. It wasn’t always this way. It used to be horrible. We now know each other. So now he knows how I DJ, I know how he mic. So now he doesn’t have to stand next to me. He knows what is going to happen, there’s a flow to what I do as a DJ. He now knows what that flow is I can feel when he is going to do something random. And that’s what it is really, practice rehearsal. And the fact that we are gigging a lot at the moment you know? This year is heavy for us. We were in Trinidad. We just left Berlin last weekend. We’re going to Jamaica next week. Two weeks after that we go to Ibiza Soca Festival. We go to Berlin carnival. We leave that, we go to New York. Two weeks after that, we go to Bermuda Carnival. A week after that we go t LA carnival. A couple of weeks after that we go to crop over. Then we come to Notting Hill Carnival and after that we go to Miami carnival. And that is what our schedule is like and that is just the touring gigs.
That’s full on. When do you guys get some down time? None. We don’t have any at the moment. We’re just on the hustle. My routine at the moment is that when I return from tour, I go straight to the office. I don’t have a rest day. So I leave the airport and I go to the office.
Aren’t you afraid of burn out? I am. But I will deal with that when…
Really? So how are you looking after yourself? Eating properly, rest when I can. When I am off, I am off. When I am off I am not really into party too much. I go home, I relax, I rest, unwind, eat properly, limit my alcohol intake. That’s all I can do. You drink a lot of alcohol? Depends [laughter]. Depends on the occasion, carnivals. My birthday event , I drank a lot. But I try to look after myself, after my body.
Let’s think about you as a DJ. If I had to ask, what is DJ Shep beats about as a DJ, how would you respond? I try to … but someone has to tell me as I don’t like to describe myself… but I try to bring high energy to the event; start sets strong and just keep people engaged throughout and be creative as well. Whether it is soca, dancehall… just do something and people will go ‘wow. I wasn’t expecting that’. And also to bring different styles and sounds to our sets that’s not necessarily familiar to our crowd.
And what is your crowd? Our crowd is normally west Indian. Caribbean Diaspora.
And in terms of your specialism what would you say your specialism is? I’d like to say that I am a DJ. I can play everything. I can play alternate, I can play hip hop, I can play old school. What I think has happened, I play a lot for carnivals. So people hear me play soca more often than not. And so people can say and maybe I can say that too I specialise in soca now. And that’s because I play for carnivals. When I am home, I don’t play soca. Why? I play it everyday. I play it all the time. So when I am home, I rehearse other things on the back of what I do.
What’s your first love? DJ. I love what I do. I don’t care about fame. I honestly don’t care about that.
You have your fingers in different pies. So you have Beats by Beaufort, there’s Amped. What else are you doing? I am also one of the owners of Ruk Uh Tuk? Really? Yeah, it’s owned by me and my work partner Damian. I try not to broadcast it. Why do you want to keep it quiet? Well I don’t want the events to be about me. I want people to come on its merit. Ruk uh Tuk has done well. It’s one of the biggest boat rides at Notting Hill Carnival. It has its own merit. I want people to support it as its own Brand. With Ruk uh Tuk in Barbados and I am one of the co-owners of Dirty Dozen in Barbados. Dirty Dozen belongs to Konata. It’s a Trinidad brand. I invited into Barbados and work with Konata. Those things I am involved in and DJ Shep Beats.
Shep Beats is a cool guy with great focus, drive and an understated wit. Another one of those individuals who are just ‘doing their do’ without any pomp or ceremony but getting it done with great execution. I really liked his event ‘Beaufort by Beats’. It is exactly as he described it. A nice evening spot to lime, catch up with people and if you want to party there is an area for that too. Will definitely be returning to his event. It was great finding out about him. Looking forward to what’s next for DJ Shep Beats.
For more information on Shep Beats, please visit Shep Beats www.djshepbeats.com, shep beats on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook and djshepbeats on Instagram. All images were taken from DJ Shep Beat page on Instagram with his authorization.