Artist Spotlight – Dennis Sheperd


Alias: Dennis Sheperd

Real Name: Dennis Schaefer
Hometown: Essen, Germany
Profession: Music Producer, DJ, Teacher (but I am an Economist, B.Sc)
Hobbies: Bicycling, gym’ing, cooking, eating out reading
Affiliations: Coldharbour, Trance Retreat

Being talented is a gift to oneself

Sharing your talents for the world to hear is a gift to others. Taking that talent and developing future generations to be better is both a present and a contribution to the scene that can never really be repaid. Some people just have a knack for teaching. A know-how to deliver a complex product and spread it, and at the same time becoming a master themselves. Dennis Sheperd is one of those gems in the scene. Not caught up in the dreaded business aspects of the scene, Dennis just wants to make and hear good music. Even taking a moment to pause so see what track Dim3nsion was playing during his set. A lover of trance, Dennis possesses the stay power to making it in the scene by staying true to himself and staying his course. Not chasing fads, not chasing charts, Dennis has the capability of becoming something very special in the trance scene.

Welcome back to Los Angeles! First of all you currently have a banger on the charts with “Memoria” that you did with Bjorn Akesson. Did you have a feeling the track would get this much support? Do you prefer working solo on tracks or doing a collab?

No, basically I didn’t really expect that much support. The way I work on tracks is usually I don’t have any expectations. I just do what I love and what I feel. And if it gets DJ support I am happy, if it doesn’t it is fine. I did what I love, so that is usually how I approach producing music. It was surprising it got that much support, and I am happy about it. But it is not something that has to be.

[As for solo or collab], both are super nice. But I love collaborating with people because every time you collaborate with someone you learn something new as well. The approach to producing music and just starting a track or a small production tips and tricks. So you always take something from collaborations. So yeah, I mean both are fun. Solo you can do whatever you want. With collaborations you always have to find the golden middle. But both are super fun.

Trance Retreat is an amazing opportunity for up and coming producers. How did this project come about? Besides the next one in September, what other locations do you have planned?

So basically I teach music production as well online but also in my studio in Berlin. Also, sometimes I travel to other locations. So I had this one student called Edwin. And I had this basic idea of doing like a workstation and inviting other fellow producers and working on music with them for a week. And I told him about it, and he was blown away by that idea. And was basically thinking, “I would pay to be a part of something like that. Just watching you guys and being able to ask you questions”. And that is how we developed the concept together. Now he is not my student anymore, he is my business partner. So that is how that project came about. The next one is in Bali in September, and the other one after that is in Cape Town, (South Africa). This is privy information, we have not announced anything yet.

You are not shy about offering your talents as ghost production to other artists. Although this topic can be controversial in the trance scene, what are your overall thoughts on ghost production?

It is a bit of a love/hate relationship to be honest. I mean, as a producer it kind of gives to the possibility to have an income if you ghost produce for other people. But at the same time, you kind of support that ‘fakeness’ in the business. Artists being on stage that don’t really do their own music, but make it seem as if they do their own. So it is a love and hate relationship, that is why I also don’t really have a final conclusion. Like do I hate it, do I love it, I don’t know, it is something in the middle. It pays the bills for music producers who like to produce music. From that point of view, if there is a market there, well there will always be a market there. 

Courtesy of Dennis Sheperd

A couple of months ago you posed a question on your Facebook asking about who fans thought had an interesting Social media page. How important is it for DJs to have an interesting social media page? What are the biggest challenges you face on social media?

I am not too sure how important it is actually to have a good social media profile. Well it basically the one thing it may sell you to a certain promoter who may want to book you. But on the other hand, it sucks so much energy from you, because if you just want to focus on making music, but you have to interrupt your creative process all the time, because you have to post something and keep your fans updated. It takes a lot of energy and strain. But on the other hand, you want to keep your fans informed as well. But there is a consent pressure of ok we have to post ever few days otherwise the interaction will go down and you won’t reach enough people anymore.

In the end I don’t know how really important it is. It is like a radio show with DJs. Do you have to have a radio show, yes or no? A topic like that as well. I stopped doing my radio show and I am not doing worst with my DJ gigs. I am sure there are artists that don’t even have social media and still DJ and perform. There is no yes or no basically to answer this question.

Courtesy of Dennis Sheperd

You are very active with your playlist on both Beatport and Spotify. What is your process for putting together those playlists? Any thoughts of resurrecting your radio show?

For the radio show, definitely no for me. It is because I love flexibility, and it was always the first Monday of the month. And I had to put out the radio show, and sometimes when you are traveling it is very hard to do the radio show. For example, being in South Africa, limited internet access, you have to download 2G of promo, what are you going to do? You have to sit in a random cafe for a whole day, download everything, it is like 10 kb per second the download speed. So it is really a pain in the a$$ when you are traveling.  

There are a lot of people who just get ghost producers for their radio shows so they are basically being produced by someone else. Is that really something that fulfills you? I am not sure. It is a marketing tool for some people, but for me it didn’t really make a difference. And to be honest, I wasn’t 100% passionate about it. I rather do something I am passionate about.

For the playlist, I listen to a lot of trance when preparing my sets and also just privately when I am tuning in at home or wherever. Whenever I come across a really good track, I immediately write it down and update my playlist.

Finally, if you could only live by one motto, what would it be?
You only live once.

You only live once.