INTERVIEW: BeatsWithSheph talk about their journey to full-time music and debut single 'Action'
We spoke to Barry and Sheph of BeatsWithSheph about what makes their offering unique, the importance of the hub that is their studio, and 'Action', their debut as artists in their own right.
The BeatsWithSheph story is one of pure hustle. These days, the pair works out of an impressive high-rise studio with expansive views of Liverpool, and their client roster features some of Sydney’s/Australia’s greatest R&B and hip hop artists. It’s easy to see where they are now and envy their success. But don’t forget the years of shrewd business hustle and dedication to their craft that put them there.
Initially, Sheph says, they were producing for themselves, working out of his home garage. After some time, the pair set out to create a dedicated music-making space; they set up their studio in Liverpool but still continued to focus on their own projects. At the time, music was a part-time endeavour. Barry and Sheph were sparkies, waking up at 4am to work long days before coming home and grinding in the studio until the late hours of the night. This was a gruelling period, but it was also a valuable time spent honing their skills. Eventually, seeing the Sydney hip hop scene start to take off, the pair decided to open their doors as BeatsWithSheph. Soon after, feeling the increasing tension between their two lines of work, they quit their apprenticeships, turned to production full-time and the rest is history: since, “the talent that’s been coming through is amazing”.
The BeatsWithSheph approach to business prioritises the fluidity and integrity of the creative process. They offer artists a complete service that includes production, tracking, mixing and mastering. This is more than a savvy business decision, it’s an effort to honour the musical desires of the artist. Rather than attempting to communicate their creative vision to a series of different producers and engineers, risking being misunderstood or derailed by too many opinions, artists can cultivate their ideas with the BeatsWithSheph boys from start to finish: “the artist comes in with an idea and walks out with a distributable track”. They welcome artists into a space that is specifically cultivated to put them at ease. Ambient lighting, snacks, shisha – the studio’s got it all. On top of this, the boys are upbeat, down to earth, and disciplined. This energy shouldn’t be rare in the industry, but it is. The boys do an expert job of disrupting a studio culture that can seem exclusive and bro-ey. The comfort of visiting artists was a key goal for them: “most private studios are dingey and dark, and very much catered towards the producer… it makes a huge difference in the creative process.”
The pair have been instrumental in the journeys of some of Australia’s biggest R&B and hip hop names, Billymaree and A.GIRL to name a couple. Recent visitors to the studio have included B Wise, Ay Huncho and BALLY BOY. BeatsWithSheph boasts production, mixing and mastering credits that firmly establish them as not only some of Australia’s most loved and skilled engineers, but also talents well situated to take the global stage by storm. They pride themselves on their versatility: “we’ll go from making a drill beat to then jumping on the saxophone or Arabic instruments. We’re not limited to a sound and can dabble in almost everything.”
More than just skilled producers, they’re also astute businessmen with industry domination in their sights. The BeatsWithSheph social media presence is almost unrivalled. They pump out consistent and creative content showcasing their work and engage with their audience, harnessing the power of social media and forging a distinctive brand. That said, their content never feels like a marketing ploy – it’s clear that the boys have a deep love for music and those that support them.
‘Action’, their debut as artists, is a defiant and confident track. It was born from an experience all too familiar to those successful in any field: when those who initially questioned your path and were sparing with their support now want to share in the fruits of your labour. In the boys’ own words, the track was inspired by “people that were close to us at face value; when push came to shove, they weren’t there supporting, they were nowhere to be seen”. ‘Action’ is about powering through external doubt and staying true to your vision, even as those around you fail to come through when you need them. After finishing a session with an artist sometime after midnight, Barry and Sheph sat down to write a track of their own. Barry threw together some guitar chords, then guitar melodies and other layers were added on top, and the boys went in, powered by feelings of resentment towards those who had disappointed them, and motivated more than ever to pursue their art. They finished ‘Action’ that night. It’s an exciting debut, and a compelling testament to self-belief, friendship and hard work.
Photos 1, 4 and 5 by @jadedamico
Words by @port______