After the release of his upbeat single “Hello Sunday” and consistent fundraising this year, Ryan Shepherd is guiding everyone into 2021 with a fresh mix!
Canadian DJ and producer Ryan Shepherd has been gaining popularity over the past few years with his high energy performances and house music beats that make feet move with ease. Gaining early support from the likes of Loud Luxury, he kicked off 2020 in style with tunes that included “Don’t Hold Me Down,” “What The Hell Am I (Drinking In LA),” and a remix of ALAMPA’s “Lush Dance” on Armada Music. But then, the pandemic hit.
Instead of letting the woes of lockdown get him down and out, Ryan Shepherd shifted gears to focus on supporting the local scene in Toronto. He launched a weekly livestream series dubbed Hello Sunday that found a home on Twitch and IG Live in his efforts to raise funds for the city’s bar, restaurant, and nightlife scene. While many of the streams featured Ryan Shepherd solely serenading viewers, he has also been joined by other artists in the scene including Zeds Dead, Bobby Love, DLMT, and Famba. Since its launch, these livestreams have raised $20,000 to provide direct support.
As the final days of 2020 approached, Shepherd looked to gift fans with a fresh release to feast on as well with the release of his first single since before the pandemic took hold. Earlier this month he dropped “Hello Sunday,” an ode to his fundraiser series that uplifts listeners with its old-school piano house vibes. Featuring vocals from acclaimed UK-based vocalist Caitlyn Scarlett, its lyrics speak directly to those who have been working to better themselves this year and layer in perfectly with the beat.
Now, to help close out the year and carry everyone into 2021, Ryan Shepherd has graced the Winter Waveforms series with a mix that will help you shake off the chilly temperatures. Make sure to give “Hello Sunday” a listen on your favorite platform, stream the mix below, and read on for our chat.
Stream EDMID Winter Waveforms 2021 || Ryan Shepherd on SoundCloud:
Hi Ryan, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today. You’ve made some major waves in the scene this year with the Hello Sunday livestream series as well that’s raised over $20,000 in donations to support the nightlife industry in Toronto. What prompted you to start the series, and did you think that it would be this successful?
Right before the global lockdown began I was touring all throughout North America and so when things all came to a halt I knew I needed to come up with a way to continue performing and connecting with new and existing fans. The idea of Hello Sunday came from a trend I began seeing in my home city of Toronto and other cities in early 2020 where Sunday day parties were becoming the new Saturday night. People would come out in bunches and there were more and more day parties popping up that were so much fun to attend.
When all of those had to stop due to COVID-19 I thought why couldn’t I keep this going and bring the Sunday day party to people’s homes via live stream. At the same time, I also saw a great fundraising opportunity where I could raise funds during each stream and give back to bars, clubs, and restaurants that were now at a stand-still and needed help to continue to stay open.
I was hopeful that ‘Hello Sunday’ would become something that people watched and helped make them happy and dance throughout the difficult times we were experiencing, however, I never thought it would grow into what it has. I am very thankful to all the viewers and donations that have made all of this possible!
Since it kicked off, Hello Sunday has played host to a number of special guests as well including Zeds Dead, Famba, and more. Looking back on the run of shows so far, can you share a specific moment during the streams that has been special to you?
Having these amazing guests was definitely special but there is one incredible moment in particular that really comes to mind. After the 2nd Sunday, a friend of mine in the nightlife industry mentioned how a popular bar called ‘Wide Open’ was really struggling and was close to shutting down. It has been Toronto’s favourite ‘dive bar’ for over 15 years and to see it go would be a very sad day for a lot of people including myself but especially the owners.
I contacted the owners who I already knew and told them what I had been doing and that we would love to do the next one in support of Wide Open. She was so grateful and you could tell she was in a tough place trying her best to keep it afloat. We flooded social media with posts leading up to the Hello Sunday telling people to tune in and give what they could to support Toronto’s favourite little dive bar.
Immediately as the live stream began the viewers and donations began to come in and the owner announced we had already raised $2,000 within the first 10 mins. She burst into tears of joy and because of that day and all of those donations, Wide Open remains open. It proved we were doing something truly special and it was incredible to see the happiness and positivity we were spreading during these difficult times.
This year has also seen you release some fantastic tunes on Armada including “Don’t Hold Me Down,” “What The Hell Am I” (Drinking In LA), and most recently “Hello Sunday.” What has it been like to receive such immense support from one of the scene’s biggest labels?
It’s truly surreal. I remember when I first got into the dance scene I would always keep an eye out for all releases coming out on Armada because they would all be so good. I also have been the biggest fan of Armin van Buuren for years so to now be an exclusive Artist on his label and have an amazing team that really believes in me and fully supports my musical vision is a dream come true.
“Hello Sunday” is an uplifting tune that warmed our hearts. It also saw you team up with acclaimed vocalist Caitlyn Scarlett. Can you touch on the production process for the tune? What was it like working with her on this release?
Working on this record with Caitlyn was such a FUN experience. I received her topline from her and her team through my publishing team at Armada. The second I heard it I knew we had something special on our hands and I couldn’t wait to begin working on it. Caitlyn is so talented and her message of ‘focusing on yourself’ that she portrayed in the Hello Sunday vocal came at the perfect time with everyone stuck in lockdown.
Making this track definitely helped me get through some tough days during quarantine and I knew I wanted to make something that was happy and uplifting to all listeners. I started with the chords which you will notice are very different than people are used to hearing in my previous releases. I wanted to take elements of old skool piano house and combine them with my current sound to do all that I could to bring positivity and joy out of the track. I think it did just that and I am so happy and grateful for all of the positive feedback it has received thus far.
The pandemic has flipped the entire industry upside down and many artists have expressed they’ve experienced creative blocks. How have you been able to stay motivated mentally and physically during quarantine, and has it affected your work when making music?
I am fortunate that Toronto has so many incredible music artists that are all so supportive of one another. As the industry got flipped upside down we all, in a way, banded together and helped each other stay motivated. We all would send each other ideas we were working on or were having difficulty on and provided each other with feedback to help get past these blocks. I also am fortunate that I have my amazing Ryan Shepherd team as well as my team at Armada that were always there for support. Lastly, being able to work with Caitlyn on Hello Sunday really helped me to stay positive and you can hear this really come out in the final version of the track.
Reflecting on the year as a whole, what are some of the biggest takeaways that you’ll carry with you in the future? Aside from the streams and releases, what silver linings have you found?
I think something that I definitely was able to take away was my ability to persevere. We are living through something no one alive has ever experienced before and there are so many ways it can affect us. I have seen it really get to some in negative ways while others were able to find ways to stay motivated and push themselves ahead. I am happy that I was able to get creative and find ways to keep growing my brand during a time that made it almost impossible to do so. That is definitely a big silver lining to me as my ability to persevere and work twice as hard through all of this helped me continue to push my music and my brand forward.
If you could offer up a piece of advice to other artists who might be struggling right now to stay positive, what would it be?
Find ways to be creative. Whatever that may be, find things that keep you happy and keep doing them because that will keep the creative juices flowing. I know it can be difficult at times with all of the restrictions that we are facing but I am proof that there are always ways around them.
We know it’s hard to gauge where we’ll be in the future, but what goals do you hope to achieve in 2021? Are there any upcoming releases we should keep our eyes out for?
My goal for 2021 is to take my Hello Sunday live stream and turn it into a live concert tour across North America when we can get back to having shows. We will also keep the charity element for each show and donate a portion of the ticket sales to either a local charity, industry, or family in whatever city we are in that needs it most. I was also booked to play some big festivals in 2020 that unfortunately were cancelled due to COVID so I would love to try and get back on those lineups once things are back to normal.
In regards to releases, I have been hard at work getting lots of new music done so keep an eye out for several new releases coming your way – the first in March 2021. It is killing me not being able to share who these tracks are featured or who I am collaborating with but you will see soon enough so stay tuned!