Ded Sheppard is a relatively new project from a producer who has seen notable success over the years. Formerly recording under the alias Code Blue, his collab with Germany’s legendary The Panacea ‘Graveyard Twist’ was released on Position Chrome and played live by Aphex Twin at Coachella in his historic set. On his debut album You Can’t Take It With You, Ded Sheppard pushes musical boundaries until they start to break at the seams with his remarkable, experimental tribal techno and drum and bass. A self-styled sound deconstructor, the combination of beatless compositions and dancefloor-focused tracks – in part the product of his experience working as a composer and sound designer for video games and film – results in a deeply engaging album.
Andrew… welcome to DMC. What’s the first record you heard after getting out of bed today?
No records yet, it’s still early for me today.
Tell us a bit about your background… you’ve recorded under a few different aliases over the years right?
Yea, I started out under the alias Code Blue producing hard and dark drum and bass with my first release “Sign of the Times” in 2002. From there I had other releases, including a collaboration with The Panacea titled “Graveyard Twist” that was played by Aphex Twin at Coachella. My more recent releases under Ded Sheppard are best described as dark halftime with a tribal techno element to it and my latest release “You Can’t Take It With You”, marks my 6th release on Onset Audio and is dominated by halftime, tribal techno jungle as well as doom ambient and cinematic elements.
Where did the name Ded Sheppard come from?
It actually came from a vision of a dystopian future. I imagined a cloaked dead shepherd that shepherds the living.
How’s the electronic music scene in Canada, which artists are making moves that we should know about?
I live in Vancouver, British Columbia where the scene is pretty amazing. It’s vibrant with artistically curated events and picturesque outdoor festivals in the summer.
Tell us about your album… for us it sits somewhere between DnB, dubstep, industrial, techno and ambient. Have you always been interested in creating music that crosses different musical boundaries?
I have always been interested in creating music that crosses musical boundaries and for me that spirit of discovery is what originally attracted me to jungle/drum and bass in the first place. As an artist, I’m interested in breaking forms or at least trying. In “You Can’t Take It With You” I wanted it to be a cinematic journey that was rooted in dark halftime jungle and tribal techno and I wanted to include ambient doom elements. All the tracks are written in the same tempo or divisions of that tempo, so slower feeling ambient pieces could be mixed in a jungle set.
Do you approach composing for games and film differently to when you’re producing your own music?
Somewhat. When it’s my own work it’s actually harder than composing for hire. For hire like for a game for example, it’s the story of the game that drives the music so it’s much easier for me to write music for. When I’m writing for myself, I think it’s easy to lose the plot.
What different approaches do you take?
Composing for games has a unique set of technical specifications as you have to compose for picture and the unfolding action that’s dynamic and interactive. Imagine you’re flying a spaceship and you’re peacefully flying and the music reflects that and then the evil boss shows up all of sudden and so the music changes. For games, I don’t think about the music created as being created for a fixed sequential timeline like a film, the music has to be designed so that it can work “live” in the game engine so that you can move from one part of a song to another or one intensity to another fluidly and musically. This kind of thinking I applied to “You Can’t Take It With You” where the slow tracks could be mixed or they can transition easily to the intense tracks.
For composing for games and film, the first question I ask is always what is the story that is being told, and how as a composer do I tell that story musically. For “You Can’t Take It With You” I approached it like scoring a film in regards to story, so I had a story in my mind before I sat down to start writing. Like a movie, I wanted YKTIWY to have a unified sonic aesthetic and tonality so while the tracks vary, I wanted them to sound like they come from the same world.
Were you listening to or taking inspiration from any particular artists when you made the album? Or do you tend to take inspiration from different art forms?
I don’t tend to listen to other artists when I’m creating. I tend to take inspiration from other varied sources. The landscape of BC has influenced my music as its vast open spaces and rugged wild forests impact my own musical sense of space. TV or films that I happen to watch in passing, if I like their scores they certainly have an impression on me.
I read in a previous interview that your most valuable commodity as an artist is time… do you spend a long time on your productions and compositions?
Yes, I also spend a lot of time experimenting and trying to find new sounds or ideas to work with sound or rhythm and melody so time for me is really important.
Is the drum and bass scene in a healthy state at the moment?
Yes, from my perspective, absolutely. There’s so much innovation and energy right now and a resurgence of the rawness and toughness and that’s where I like to be. There’s so much dnb out there right now that is sounding like music from the future and that’s why I got into it in the first place. ☺
Will you be touring after the album’s release?
What’s next for Ded Sheppard?
I am working on new stuff. There are also remixes slated for my tracks “Run Baby Run” and “The Youth”