GET DOWN: Hi Jon, hope you are well! Are you looking forward to getting back to Hull to play a show again after all these years?

DJ SHEPDOG: YES! Massively looking forward to it – it’s been a while since I last played in Hull and even longer since I DJed at Welly – probably something like 18 years! I used to frequent the club as a youth – the first time I was actually only 13 years old, so I have a bit of a history with the place. I can’t wait to get behind the decks again – it feels like a real homecoming

GET DOWN: Can you think of any highlights or funny stories from your time living in Hull?

DJ SHEPDOG: I grew up in Hull and only left at the age of 18, so I have plenty of great memories from my time there – most of them probably unprintable! Clubs such as Welly, The Room, Blue Lamp have a real place in my heart and undoubtedly shaped the way I DJ. I actually had a real flashback the other day whilst attending DJ Derek’s funeral – I think I promoted his one and only gig in Hull back in 2010. It was a great night, we packed out Fruit on a Thursday night. There’s been a spate of old people getting mugged in the city centre so I was a bit worried about him and offered to accompany him on his trips around the local Wetherspoons – he took exception and cussed me out about it on the mic later – in his jovial way and his booming Jamaican accent. 

GET DOWN: Nice Up have already released one the biggest reggae/dancehall albums of the year from Poirier. What else is in store for the label in 2016?

DJ SHEPDOG: Plenty! We’re finally releasing our collaborative album with the legendary Fashion Records – called “Inna NICE UP! Fashion” featuring new remixes of classic tracks from General Levy, Top Cat, Tenor Fly, Papa San, etc. We’ve managed to get remixes from artists such as Machinedrum, The Bug, Toddla T & Melé so I can’t wait for people to hear it – it’s taken a long time to complete. There are also singles lined up from Turntable Dubbers, Blend Mishkin, out new signing Origin One and more from Poirier and a few other signings I can’t say too much about right now. I think it’s our busiest year yet.  

GET DOWN: Since founding Nice Up, do you think it’s become easier or more difficult for others to start their own independent label?

DJ SHEPDOG: It’s definitely much easier – when I started NICE UP! there was no real digital distribution to speak of, so it was all vinyl which takes a bit of experience to do properly – manufacturing, getting distribution, etc. Nowadays most labels don’t even bother with vinyl and there are hundreds of outlets to sell your music digitally. Of course, that makes it harder for labels and releases to stand out – there’s so many releases each week it’s really difficult to get your music heard. Streaming has also taken a lot of money out of it, so there’s the financial struggle too, but it’s generally much easier to start a label and get your music out – anyone can do it! It’s just making a success of it that is the tricky part. 

GET DOWN: Do you think the ‘free download’ culture we live in at the moment is a blessing or a curse?

DJ SHEPDOG: I think that a generation not even considering that they have to pay for music could cause problems for future artists, as they will have to rely on touring and other revenue streams to support themselves. It’s not good if you can’t support yourself from your job, which is what most musicians and artists try to do. That said, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of them – I guess people are still hungry for fame, but I think they’d find it tough to sustain if they’re not selling units. It’s obviously a great way to get your music heard and shared, but I think it sets a precedent that kind of says “this music isn’t worth investing in” which is hard to turn around. 

GET DOWN: As a DJ, what are you go-to dance floor savers?

DJ SHEPDOG: The Mungo’s Hi Fi remix of Adam Prescott’s “On A Dubstep Tip” usually works, as does Poirier’s “Jump”, but in general you can’t beat a bit of jungle! 

Catch DJ Shepdog at GET DOWN’s bank holiday party this Sunday at Welly!