Blending musical styles with elan

Alternate genre

Sultan and Ned Shepard have been creating waves in the progressive music scene.

Crossing borders: Sultan and Ned Shepard.

In an industry where artistes tend to create niches of specialisation and then stick to that, it’s refreshing to come across a duo that avoids genre-related definitions.

Which probably explains the popularity of ‘Sultan + Ned Shepard’ — sometimes referred to as the kings of the progressive scene — two classically-trained musicians who have perfected the art of blending styles and playing beyond borders.

They prefer to avoid stereotypes and instead, create music out of — as they put it — literally anything that sounds good.

Ned explains, “Our music has a bit of everything: progressive house, electronic and tech-house. We don’t focus on any one genre too much — but I suppose if you had to describe our music in one word, it would be house.”

The artiste learnt to play the piano when he five years old and admits that surprisingly, his passion for electronica began there.

“My piano teacher encouraged me to listen to this sort of music and to buy a keyboard. When I switched instruments, I started to pay more attention to electronica. And I really got into trance when I was about 17,” he recalls.

Interestingly, he points out that there are strong similarities between the classic background he was trained in and the more progressive music he makes today. “When it comes to composition, both are very layered forms of music — it’s just that the instruments are different,” he explains.

Ned and Sultan have worked a lot with other artistes — ‘Call My Name’, which they created with Nadia Ali, being one of their most popular collaborations — and Ned explains that blending their style with someone else’s isn’t always easy.

“We spend time with the other artiste, especially if they belong to a different genre, like rock. We let them do what they have to and then incorporate our sound into it. Generally, we get a nice blend,” he elaborates.

This isn’t the duo’s first trip to Bangalore and both seem fairly optimistic about the reception they expect to receive here.

“Bangalore has always been a city that has supported music. We’ve been here before and the scene has really grown, from what I can see,” says Sultan, adding that the City’s ‘Rock Capital’ tag — something which could deter artistes of alternate genres from performing here — isn’t something that bothers them much.

“It’s not like we’re coming here with something new,” he reasons, “Electronica has been in Bangalore for many years. Rock might enjoy the largest audience but there is still a huge liking for dance music and other such genres here.”

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