Host Spotlight: Shen

Host Spotlight: an opportunity to shine a light on our wonderful radio hosts and wider community, be it a new music release, a brand new music residency or simply to champion them as an individual.

This time, we chat with longstanding resident and Liverpool-based DJ/producer, Shen! As he prepares for the release of not one but two original tracks over the coming months, we catch up with Shen to find out more about his influences, navigating a career in your thirties and much more…

Hey Shen! Let’s start with the basics – how did you first get into music? 

Hello hello! I guess my first exposure to music was my family’s tastes. Lots of Beatles, Disco and Motown bought from Woolworths (I remember the price stickers on the records!). Family parties with 80s jams – Adam and the Ants, Heaven 17 and Spandau Ballet etc… I think all of this probably seeped into my tastes somehow when I was a kid.

Outside of that, the biggest thing that sent me in a musical direction was picking up the guitar at 15. After that, music was (and still is) everything! Playing in bands, going to gigs, growing my hair… That was all that mattered back then haha! 

Having DJed in a variety of venues across the city and afar, do you have a personal favourite spot and if so, why? Dream venue to play in?

Hmmm tough one! I’d say 24 Kitchen Street. I’ve had loads of great experiences there, both DJing and as a punter. I always feel like I can let loose a bit in there musically and the crowd that place brings is always a bit more open minded. 

Not forgetting you lovely lot at Melodic Distraction also. My monthly radio show is always a joy to do and getting to flex my musical muscles on your airwaves is always a highlight of my week. 

Dream venue – I went to see Daphni and Floating Points in London Printworks a few years ago and I loved how it sounded in there. Absolutely huge space, but felt dramatic and theatrical somehow. Unfortunately I heard it’s closing 🙁 

As well as DJing, you’re also a super talented producer. Can you tell us a bit more about your two upcoming releases?

Yes! So the first is a song called ‘Tia’, which is part of a compilation by Machine/Meraki and your good selves at Melodic Distraction. It’s out on a limited run of 100 records and it feels amazing to be part of it. Seeing your name on something physical like a vinyl record will always give me goosebumps.

The second one is a remix for a local artist called Deadbeat Drew. We were introduced by a mutual friend and he sent me his song ‘You Should Find’, which I loved straight away. His vocals had a real Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry sound to them, so I immediately thought a bit of a Todd Terje style remix would sound great. That’s out May 6th on Spotify and Bandcamp, so please check it out. 

Who were you listening to a lot whilst making them?

Nothing in particular I don’t think. Production wise, I look at people like Four Tet, Jamie XX, Daphni, Erol Alkan, Todd Terje and my old favorites Justice as inspiration. Ultimately though, I don’t (if i can help it) get pigeonholed with the music I make or DJ with. That would make things really boring I think. However, I’m still finding my feet with it all so I’ll see if I stick to that or not!

You recently played at the White Label release party, too! How do you usually prepare for a DJ set? Any pre-show rituals?

I ALWAYS over prepare, but sometimes I wish I was a bit more chill about it haha. Firstly, I’ll go through lots of older playlists and keep in mind the venue I’m playing at, what the night is pushing, the time of the set and what I’d like to play then make a playlist based on that. I always end up over-egging it a bit though and pack hundreds of songs for an hour set haha! Oh well. 

Rituals – have a nap, brush my teeth, shower and double check i’ve got everything before I leave. Things can be intense and anxiety-inducing in club atmospheres, so it’s better to be prepared and feeling your best when walking into them.

How do you find navigating a music career in your thirties? Are there any advantages/challenges? 

Both. I’d say the advantages are the connections I’ve made because I’ve been doing this a while. I’d also say maturity can serve you well in this game. I wouldn’t say my partying days are over as such (I’ve never been a big party guy anyway), but I’d certainly not be turning up to gigs wrecked or making a fool of myself (which I may have done when I was 18!)

Disadvantages, I guess not fitting the moulds for certain parties? Which feels like a shame, considering how all-inclusive the scene claims to be. Maybe this is something promoters need to have a look at but ultimately, there’s so much good stuff going on at the minute that I’m finding open-minded people who book me for my music taste, as opposed to how old I am. 

What else do you have planned for 2022? 

Some collaborations are on the cards and I’m headed to a studio next week to finish an EP, which will get released in the summer. 

There’s a wee party for Keep It Cryptic happening May 20th (shouts to Ché Wilson). Hopefully lots and lots of other gigs also (I’m saying yes to everything it seems haha), so I’m hoping this is a big year for me. 

Join Shen for the next edition of  ‘Nostromo’ on MDR this Thursday at 6pm. Stay tuned for the release of Shen’s ‘You Should Find’ remix tomorrow, but in the meantime, check out the Machine vinyl here!



|| SHEN ||