I first met Jack Shepherd as I was sauntering across Leicester Square one afternoon. A guitar riff caught me mid stride and I stopped in my tracks as busking Jack started one of his melliferous melodies to self accompanied beats, a feat in itself.
I thought it would be fun to start a series of Dashing Sessions featuring new musicians. For the shoot Jack is wearing a suit in the Centre Point design but his Dashing garment of choice is our British wool reflective bomber jacket. This jacket is apparently the envy of fellow buskers as the reflective aspect draws even bigger crowds.
Intrigued by Jacks peripatetic life style I posed a few questions:
Q: Did you study music?
A: I ironically took a course in Performance at the Australian Institute of Music (AIM), before deciding I would launch my career from the world’s pavements.
Q: When did you start?
A: I started busking around 15, and I’m just around the corner form my 24th birthday
Q: What is it that you enjoy so much about busking?
A: It’s raw and unforgiving, but also a catalyst for beautiful and sometimes unpredictable things. If what you do on the street doesn’t capture your audience, they won’t watch, and you won’t thrive – if it does, they will and you will. It’s an excellent way to learn performance in a way that will whittle a person down to what they’re really good at
Q: Which countries have you busked in?
A: In order.. Australia, China, Canada, England, Scotland, France, Dubai, the United States and Switzerland.
Q: What inspires your song writing?
A: Things I feel or imagine will strike a chord with people… I think it’s a conscious artist’s responsibility to reflect the times and influence positive change where they can, so recently my lyrics are taking on a hint of that.
Q: Do you have any fashion style icons?
A: In terms of fashion I very much came out of a culture of self-expressing/experimenting and youthful exuberance… hand-me-down clothes, things in op-shops and emulations of styles I saw represented in musicians that I admired. Not much of anything that one would consider fashionable, and mostly a decade or two late. As time’s come on I’ve very much adopted the typically male-musician “black-on-black goes with everything” approach, mixed with the restrictions of living out a suitcase creating a collection of clothing not much larger than a bedside drawer. When I was based in Australia and coming into my own, I was emulating John Butler, Xavier Rudd, proponents of the eco-hippy music trend in the early 2000’s. A little skate culture. Recently I’ve taken a shining to Jackets and an American Rock/casual kinda thing. I love my reflective Dashing bomber, I’ve had to beat off all the performers with a stick, they’re all throwing offers for the jacket at me!
Q: What are your musical ambitions?
A: In a broader sense, I want to inspire change in people and make them challenge their thinking… Lots of political unrest with scared people making interesting decisions. There’s a lot of room to inspire good. Kendrick Lamar is doing that in an incredible way, when I was younger artists like the John Butler Trio and Dub FX made me feel the same way. On a personal level I want to be thriving, I have some projects I want to work on that aren’t music-related but do involve funding that busking can’t provide in this economy (long gone are the days of a $20,000 December). Structures that provide space for technological creativity and encourage a culture of sustainable artistry. That will mean performing on stages and taking my music to a broader audience and in turn managing the business side of my brand.
Jack Shepherd’s music can be found at http://www.mrshphrd.com and he can be found on all sorts of social media under the handle “MrShphrd”