Sultan + Shepard earned a Grammy nod for their remix of Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven."
Sultan + Shepard earned a Grammy nod for their remix of Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven."
Photo by Drew Hadley

A Brief History of House Duo Sultan + Shepard

New Times' chief meteorologist is calling for champagne showers, heavy fog, and a storm of LED foam sticks when Sultan + Shepard return to LIV this Thursday.

Sultan + Shepard

11 p.m. Thursday, August 6, at LIV, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-4680; Tickets cost $30 plus fees via Ages 21 and up.

"We'll be reading the crowd at LIV," Ned Shepard says. "We've been DJ'ing so long that we can take a set anywhere the crowd wants to go."

Before they were playing LIV and Tomorrowland Ibiza and enjoying residencies in Las Vegas, Sultan + Shepard were ravers living the PLUR life. Sultan's first dance-music show was Carl Cox and Danny Tenaglia; Shepard's was Fat Boy Slim in Paris — blazing starts for both. Now the duo is providing the inspiration for the next generation of kandi kids. Shepard's partner, Sultan — born Ossama Al Sarraf — fondly remembers his first experiences with dance music.

"It was the late '90s. I saw Tiësto open for Paul Oakenfold, and it was the first time he played his remix of 'Silence.' I have incredible memories of seeing Sasha & Digweed," Sultan says. "It was a special time for dance music, and the scene in Montreal was strong. We went to raves at the Bell Centre, where the pro hockey team played. There weren't a lot of stadium raves at the time. Montreal was progressive."

In the early '00s, Sultan was about to go on tour with the legendary DJ duo Deep Dish. He had three tracks featured on Deep Dish's DJ mix album Global Underground 025: Toronto. That marked Sultan a made man on Canada's dance-music scene. Shepard approached him after one of his sets at Club Living in Montreal, where Sultan played progressive and trance Sunday nights. This was pre-MP3, pre-SoundCloud, pre-flash drive, and pre-email. Sultan liked Shepard's promo CD, and they've been working together since.

The two eventually moved to Los Angeles, where they gained more mainstream and main-stage success. The "let's do lunch" strategy worked — they linked with the Bruno Mars camp and were asked to remix a track that in 2014 got them nominated for a Grammy for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical. Their version of "Locked Out of Heaven" landed them a stroll on the red carpet at the 56th Grammy Awards.

"The Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox album hadn't been released, and we were approached to remix either 'Moonshine' or 'Locked Out of Heaven.' We liked 'Locked Out of Heaven' better. The opportunity to work on this track was an honor for us. It was a lot of fun," Sultan says.

Since then, they've been tagged by Beatport as the "Kings of the Progressive Scene" and have produced massive originals such as "All These Roads," "Keep Moving," and "When We Were Young." Dance-music fans should be thankful Shepard introduced himself to Sultan that fateful night in Montreal.

Sultan + Shepard. 11 p.m. Thursday, August 6, at Liv, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-4680; Tickets cost $30 plus fees via Ages 21 and up.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories