SHELLEY is a co-founder and director at Valve Sounds; a record label that specialises in uncovering, nurturing and promoting the new wave of emerging Hip Hop, RnB, Soul and Electronic artists within Australia.
Shelley's love for music dates way back to the age of four, fast forward to the present, she not only runs Valves Sounds, she also works with artists for all things booking and management related, plus she’s previously DJ'ed at parties which you’ve probably been to such as YoYo, Laundry Bar, Tresillo, REUP, Falls Festival, Listen Out and Beyond the Valley.
Her eclectic taste and influences sees her able to spin an assortment of music to suit whatever the party needs, demonstrated to perfection on the new For The Honeys Volume 14 which we're very excited to share with you.
We hang out with Shelley in her apartment and get a lil insight into what's on the cards for 2020, have a read below while listening to FTH Vol.14!
How did your interest in music begin, leading you to work in the music industry?
I started playing musical instruments from the age of four and was in lots of different school orchestras and bands, pretty much everyday I’d have rehearsals or lessons at lunchtime or after school. Then when I was about 14 I discovered there was a whole business side to music that I found much more interesting and shifted my focus to this; what went on behind the scenes of artists, music releases and events, and started going to a lot of workshops and doing internships.
As soon I finished high school I got offered a job in music events, which led to further jobs, while finishing an Arts Degree then a failed attempt at a Law Degree (lasted 6 months ha) eventually leading to where I am now.
I currently split my time working across four different companies and sectors of the music industry, which are Valve Sounds; a record label that my business partner Sasha and I started 5 years ago specialising in RnB, Hip Hop and Soul music. We have thrown parties under the same name too. Vita Music Group where I work as a booking agent and look after acts like Milan Ring, CLYPSO, Skin on Skin, Slim Set, Rainbow Chan, Agung Mango and more. Artist Management where I'm managing a roster of a few amazing acts and also DJing. I DJ at a bunch of different bars, clubs and random events, which I first began doing around 6 years ago. I was a regular promoter for nightclubs back then and I guess the natural transition of that is usually to become a DJ haha.
The journey to where Valve Sounds is today must have come with its challenges, what was one of the toughest parts of starting this business?
Yeah for sure, we’ve been thrown a lot of curveballs, and over the years learnt what works and what doesn’t work best for us, which have led us to make different changes in our approaches towards our business.
For the first few years we were fortunate enough to have worked together with Sony Music on the label and have their guidance, so that definitely helped alleviate things for us in terms of learning how the whole process worked from day one.
One of the big challenges we faced and continue to face is learning how to stay patient, and realising that good things take time. When it comes to music, there is always a sense of urgency to churn out music because of how quickly people consume music, but this is not a sustainable way to ensure the longevity in an artist’s career. It’s better to take your time to do things properly, rather than rushing into things without thinking about it or having a plan. It can be hard having that patience when you see other things around you seeming to move so rapidly. However you also need to remind yourself that the stuff you see your favourite artists posting publicly about is only the tip of the iceberg of what is going on, and that they have been working in the background with their teams for much longer than that. Success isn’t overnight!
Running a label also requires a lot of investment, time and financial. We might spend a whole heap of money on expenses for a release, but not see that be recouped for a few years. Until you have a big hit, you’re most likely going to be in the negative for a while, but it’s all about that long-term investment, and we have full belief in all the artists and releases we work with that they will get there.
Any advice you would give yourself if you could go back in time?
Don’t be afraid to be more confident in yourself and your abilities.
What has been some of your most memorable events or highlights?
DJ-wise playing at festivals Beyond The Valley, Falls, Listen Out and Spilt Milk. In particular, Beyond The Valley last year was a huge highlight as I was playing in front of thousands of people right before Tyler, The Creator and Skepta. When I first started DJing, I was just doing it for fun and as a side hustle and never really took it that seriously, so whenever I get hit up for bigger sets it’s always a pleasant surprise that I’m super grateful for!
Music business work-wise, having every single Valve Sounds party we’ve done so far sell out and reach capacity has been really gratifying. In particular the parties we did at the State Library and St Paul's Cathedral for Melbourne Music Week, they were beautiful once-in-a-lifetime type venues.
Do you have anything planned for 2020 that you could please share with us?
Putting together a few tours that will be announced soon and also a huge new and exciting change for Valve Sounds that we’ve been working on for a long while (hence why we’ve been a bit quiet recently on the label front!)
And the inspiration behind FTH Vol.14?
This mix includes new tracks, remixes of old throwbacks, and everything in between. Lots of fun and funky tracks with groovy baselines and instrumental breaks, nothing too serious. My taste in music is really genre diverse but I love throwing in a cheesy throwback pop song or two during my DJ sets, no matter what genre I’m playing.
Music aside, how else do you spend your time?
Binge watching TV shows and ordering Uber Eats.
Favourite spots in Melbourne to:
Shop: Op shops in the suburbs. The further away from the city, the better they usually are!
Eat: I don’t ever really cook at home, so here is a comprehensive list of some of my regular food spots: Co Do for pho, Tahina’s falafels, N.Lee Bakery, Pho Nom’s crispy fried chicken and sriracha mayo banh mi, Ima Project Café for Japanese style breakfast, Viet Rose for Laksa, Bowl Bowl for dumplings, Gami Korean fried chicken, D.O.C. pizza and pasta, iloveistanbul, Lanzhou Beef Noodle Bar, Grand Lafayette for all-you-can-eat Japanese dinner, Butcher’s Diner or Shujinko Ramen for a late night feed.
Chill: My apartment. I live by myself and I love spending time alone at home (and napping a lot ha). Most of the time I lean more towards the introverted end of things, because my work requires me to be social and out and about a lot, having time alone to recharge is really important for me.
Party: Anywhere that my friends are throwing an event or DJing at.