Oliver Sheppard is a different kind of DJ. He's more of a selector in line with radio DJ's like John Peel or Allan Freed, but far more niche. Sheppard leans heavily towards the dark and gloomy side of rock music and, through his Wardance, Folk Division and Postpunk Happy Hour residencies, he's carved out a special place amongst the Dallas DJ scene. He is very much a specialty DJ, but his knowledge in that specialty runs extremely deep. For this week's Mixtape Q&A, Sheppard gives a little insight into his deep back story and his deep relationship with DJing the gloom and doom.
DC9 at Night: How did you get started DJing? How long have you been at it?
Sheppard: I started DJing before live crowds in 2011 in Austin but had been DJing my own radio program, Radio Schizo, since 2005. That show began as a hardcore punk podcast, essentially from getting an iMac for Christmas that year, and the show got picked up by KAOS Radio 95.9 FM in Austin in 2009 for live broadcast. Two years later, my friend Jack of World Burns to Death offered me and some others a slot at an old Austin gay/BDSM bar, Chain Drive, to replace the Imperium noise night that he and some others had been doing. Me and some others took over that slot and made it into a twice-per-month death rock, punk and goth DJ event called No Doves Fly Here, named after the Mob song.
When did you start DJing in Dallas?
I came back to Dallas that same year and began a monthly event, Atrocity Exhibition, that was pretty much the same music format, something that got off the ground thanks to Scott Beggs at La Grange taking a chance on it. One of the templates in my head for the event was Johnny Bubonic's (Paul Little's) old Funeral Drive event at Spiderbabies, an event I enjoyed and dug the philosophy behind (roots punk, goth, deathrock, postpunk, etc.)
Where do you dig for tracks for your sets?
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There's no one single source for that. Sometimes it's going record shopping at places like Dead Wax or Half Price or wherever I find something that interests me. I write for CVLT Nation so am lucky to get a lot of advance digital reviewer copies of stuff. I'm lucky to know a lot of bands in the current death rock/postpunk type scene and they'll send me stuff that they say I can use. Other times it's Bandcamp, keeping track of the pages of labels that I like, and trading info and files with friends.
Do you buy vinyl?
I'm not a vinyl purist -- I think there's frankly a lot that's inferior about that format -- and although I've been playing a lot more vinyl lately, there's a lot of stuff that I want to play that I either simply don't have on vinyl ($$$), or that just doesn't exist on vinyl. Killing Joke's 2003 LP and the Slimy Member demo, for example, don't exist on vinyl. So if I want to play tracks from those, and I have, out comes the laptop.
Do you have a preference as far as genres go?
I have a broader taste in music that's not reflected in what I DJ. I really like '60s garage and proto-punk stuff. The Kinks are one of my favorite bands but I don't think I've ever DJed a single song of theirs. Hardcore punk, black metal, postpunk, death rock and neofolk are my favorite genres. My top five bands are Killing Joke, Rudimentary Peni, the Damned, Death in June, and Current 93. However you'd categorize those bands, those are my favorite genres. For whatever reason, I am attracted to the gloomier stuff.
How did your Post-Punk Happy Hour residency at Crown & Harp come together?
Postpunk Happy Hour came about when several folks complained they couldn't come out to the weekly Wardance event, which was every Wednesday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and conflicted with a lot of peoples' work schedules. A happy hour time was suggested, and I broached the idea to Moody [Fuqua] at Crown & Harp, and he liked it, so we went with it. (I should mention that Moody has been a tremendous supporter and advocate for a lot of this sort of stuff and his support of local artists and event nights like this is hard to overestimate. So, shout out to him!)
How did your Folk Division residency come about?
Folk Division happened simply because I thought it'd be interesting and fun to create an event night centered on neofolk, a style of music I've liked now for about 10 years, maybe because I'm getting older! Neofolk is a genre I find endlessly fascinating: It's at turns wistful, romantic, somber, beautiful, but also fiery and militaristic. I think it's great. It seemed like such a challenge to do an event centered on that style of music in Dallas, but that made it appeal to me all the more. Incredibly, each Folk Division has been pretty successful, maybe because we do it so infrequently. I say "we," because Erin Powell of Awen -- one of the longest running neofolk/martial bands in the U.S., based in Dallas, and strangely routinely ignored by the music press here -- and Keith P. of the Funeral Party got it off the ground with me. It's a more "we do it when we feel like"-type event, so there's not much pressure for it.
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What gigs do you have coming up?
This Friday, January 30 I'll be djing the Cult of Youth show in Austin at Red 7, and then Saturday, January 31, there's a "Wardance Presents" show with solo underground darkwave artist David E. Williams with DJ Tesco Jane, who runs the noise/power electronics label Tesco USA. February 27 me and Matt Punk Alive are hosting PDX postpunk band Arctic Flowers, with Pinkish Black, Annex, and the Ft Worth band "TBA." As of this writing we don't have a venue!! It'll be an incredible, well attended show, so if anyone reading this can help, let me know. It has to be all ages. Other than that, just the weekly Postpunk Happy Hour event. Tracklist: 1. Lost Tribe - Forever (Richmond, VA - 2010) 2. Rakta - Tudo que e solido (Sao Paolo, Brazil - 2014) 3. Lost Sounds - Ship of Monsters (Memphis, TN - 1999) 4. Catholic Spit - Dentist (Los Angeles, 2013) 5. Christ Vs. Warhol - Paper Dolls (Los Angeles, CA - 2011) 6. Slimy Member - Flesh and Blood (Dallas, TX - 2014) 7. Institute - Putrid (Austin, TX - 2013) 8. Pleasure Leftists - Future Fights (Cleveland, Ohio, 2011) 9. Spectres - Remote Viewing (Vancouver, BC - 2013) 10. Bellicose Minds - Visions of Pain (demo) (Portland, OR - 2011) 11. Rikk Agnew - It's Doing Something (Orange County, CA - 1983) 12. Vex - World in Action (London, UK - 1984) 13. Crisis - Holocaust (Guildford in Surrey, UK - 1978) 14. Adverts - Gary Gilmore's Eyes (London, UK - 1977) 15. Lack of Knowledge - Buried Alive (London, UK - 1983) 16. Deathcharge - Hangman (Portland, OR - 2005) 17. Annex - Nightmares (San Marcos, TX - 2013) 18. Crimson Scarlet - Sanctuary (Oakland, CA - 2011) 19. Death in June - Fields (London, UK - 1985) 20. Killing Joke - Willfull Days (London, UK - 1984)
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