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Local beat-maker aims to use Grand Rapids to the fullest

Shane "SuGR Shane" Sloan works to successfully utilize Grand Rapids by taking a local approach to his work as a music producer and beat-maker.
SuGR Shane at work in his studio.

SuGR Shane at work in his studio. /Shane Sloan

Music producer Shane “SuGR Shane” Sloan’s roots in music go back to early in his life. A native to Grand Rapids hailing from the northwest side, Sloan remembers his first experiences playing the keyboard.

“I’ve always been a big fan of keyboards. I’ll never forget when I walked into Meijer with my mom. As a little kid, I’d always scatter over to the keyboard section. I’d just be playing tunes for the time I was there, and I’d be playing for people who walked by. She’d come by and get me and ask if I was ready and I’d say ‘No, I’m not ready yet!’” Finally, my dad heard about that and got me my first keyboard when I was seven. I’ve been playing keys ever since,” says Sloan.

Sloan’s love for the keys led to him loving the drums and experimenting with beat-making software.

“I got into the drumming world when I was in middle school. In the early 2000’s, a software I’ve messed with came out. It was a simple drum software, just a 16 pattern maker. I thought it was the coolest thing. So I started mixing my beats around. I’ve always been an instrumentalist beat-maker. I took off from there and started experiencing with more software. I’ve always been self-directed and I’m a huge junkie for sound. That’s kind of where I took off and started to make beats,” says Sloan.

As for his name, SuGR Shane, Sloan came by it through a stranger during middle school.

“There was a guy from St. Louis that was always out and about and he’d be like ‘Suga Shane! What’s up?’ And I thought, ‘Hey that kinda fits.’ I guess it derived from somebody down south that noticed it had a ring to it. It caught on, because kids were hearing that and it just started flowing through the hallways. They associated that with me playing my keys. So I said, ‘That’s going to fit,’” says Sloan.

Later on in his music adventure, Sloan found out there was another Suga Shane, so he decided his name had to have a meaning to it.

“SuGR stands for ‘successfully utilizing Grand Rapids.’ It’s got a lot of meaning, because it goes right back to my passionate pursuit to really utilize what we have here. A lot of people are saying, ‘You have to venture out.’ That’s great, but I think there’s a lot of work done here and a lot of undiscovered talent. I have a passion to really pull that out of people. I’m thankful that I can present a foundation to do so. There’s a lot more people to reach out there as well, so I definitely like to contribute to that at high extremes,” says Sloan.

Sloan contributes to others' work through his recording studio, a full two-room studio with acoustics and recording equipment. The official name is SuGR Shane Studios, but it is also referred to as SuGR’s Lab or SuGR Studios. Sloan aims for his studio to have to be a comfortable environment for artists.

“People like the 'home-style' more than something that’s really industrial and kind of intimidating,” says Sloan.

Some of the work that Sloan has done has been to produce the dance music compilation for the Davenport University Dance Team. He has also produced musical compilations for Calvin College’s media department and created music for a clothing line’s commercials. For the past two years, Sloan has done the music for the zombie dance at The Haunt.

“I remember the first time I went there. I was 16 and I thought that was the coolest part of The Haunt. And here I am, doing the music for it years later,” says Sloan.

Sloan’s most recent project is Common Synthesis, an LLC he formed with his business partner, D Bill. Their first song they produced together was “Motivation” with artist Jeri Wade. It received radio play on Muskegon’s radio station, 107.3 The Beat.

“The whole 'Motivation' song formulates around what Common Synthesis is about—doing things in a passionate pursuit, but also associating with like-minded individuals and keeping things always in a business perspective. Because if you do it the right way you can make a business out of it, but you have to be really dedicated and serious. We’re on the move to figuring out who those individuals are and creating a platform for that. I’m looking forward to those future endeavors,” says Sloan.

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