Known best for his deep and primal percussion, “stabby” basslines, and ever-evolving, razor sharp sound, rising British producer Dean Cawley (aka Stabby) has been making colossal moves during his short time in the limelight. Since commencing his journey through the fibers of electronic music four years ago at the impressively young age of 17, Stabby has employed his lifelong love of rock music alongside a vast array of other genres to concoct a distinct musical style. Boasting a perfect blend of head-bobbing grooves and potent sounds that fuse the most personally inspiring and deeply engaging elements from blues, synth-pop and post-hardcore, Stabby’s music constantly aims to create an entirely unique, jarring and bass heavy experience that is equally visceral and unforgettable.
With releases on Back To The Dancefloor, Marshmallow Gun Records, and Artist Integrity Agency already under his belt, we thoughts we’d sit down for an in-depth chat with Stabby as he gears up for his most exciting release to date. Titled Ronin, his debut EP on Never Say Die is a five-track, dubstep-oriented collection poised to supply a hefty dose of chest-hitting bass and supernatural sound design all while drawing from a wide palette of musical influences.
Sure to cement its rightfully earned place among Never Say Die’s impressive roster of releases, the full EP is out Monday, November 7 so lock in your pre-order here and check the in-depth conversation with the man himself below.
You’re a fairly young producer with a unique background as a Brit living in Thailand. How did you end up living in Thailand and how has this rather uncommon setting contributed to the overall creative inspiration for the Stabby sound?
Man, I’m from all over the place. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, originally from Blackpool, UK, and ended up in Thailand because of my parents, mostly my father and his job. Growing up in Thailand really exposed me from a young age to all forms of different music from different cultures, from Western radio hits to Thai folk and South African rap, I heard it all. I try to combine some of these elements from these different cultures that I like. For example, I really enjoy tribal drums and percussion as well as the melodies and scales that are typically used in Asia, so I try to incorporate that into my music. At the end of the day it’s purely all taste and I’m just picking what I like to hear.
Speaking of influences, how and when did electronic music and dubstep find its way into the musical equation?
Being constantly exposed to ‘80s music from my dad as a kid, I slowly got into rock and then post-hardcore progressively towards my teen years as sort of a “rebel” thing. It was then that I discovered electronic music with Daft Punk and Justice and absolutely fell in love with what I was hearing. That sparked my initial interest in the production side of music, and it wasn’t until hearing Funtcase “Don’t Piss Me Off” that I was like, “Holy shit, what the fuck is this and how can I make it?” The rest is history.
It seems like these various inspirations have also helped you develop your own unique sound.
A lot of what I do is heavily inspired by a lot of the music I used to listen to—and still do. I kind of pick bits and pieces of each genre that I really enjoy and incorporate that into my releases. The ‘80s synth-pop sound is probably the biggest influence but honestly is not one I do intentionally; I just love that sound. It was so fresh back in the ‘80s because synths were becoming a thing and you just heard it in almost all popular records back then.
You mentioned that the creation of “Pressure Point” really offered itself to you as a chance to refine your production techniques and hone in on a clearer, more concise version of your sound. What changed or clicked during that lengthy, eight-month process?
I’m always constantly trying to improve my production and technical knowledge; I suppose that’s just part of me being entirely fascinated with the nerdy technical stuff. “Pressure Point” in particular was the first project that I wrote in chunks, which is a process I don’t normally do. What this basically meant was I had written the main section way back in March, the intro sometime in June, and then progressively over the rest of the months continually refined and finished the ideas that were there. In terms of musical self-discovery there were a lot of techniques and ideas that I had never tried before that I felt like I had executed well and paved the path for the way I do things now. It was just a matter of doing things differently and in a method that I hadn’t tried before that allowed me discover how and what to do.
Your debut EP with Never Say Die is right around the corner. Fill us in on the details!
Thank you! I’m super stoked and literally cannot wait. I started this EP a year ago in between a ton of writing that I was trying to do. It’s a purely dubstep EP, which is different for me because so far I’ve made sure every release I’ve done has a different genre, and there’s no better home for it than on Never Say Die! The vibe and theme of this release is based on the history of warriors and samurais in Japan and is something I really wanted to explore, as it’s something I’ve been fascinated with ever since I was really young. I explored a little bit of this style with the record “Tsuwamono” that I put out for free, so imagine that but ten times heavier. I have two collaborations on this record with Tisoki and Too Vain which both came together SO quickly; they were both initially written within days. I’m really stoked on how they came out because it’s so “no holds barred” and really showcases the stylistic differences between us.
As an up-and-comer in the bass music game, what would you say have been some major highlights in your career so far?
Definitely getting my music played out by SKisM, which was absolutely visceral to me since I’ve been the biggest fan before I started even producing. I would also add playing my first international show in Paris. To think that I got to go to a place I had never been thanks to music I made in my bedroom… I will always cherish that.
Any lessons you’ve learned along the way that may help budding producers out there?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you shouldn’t be going out of your way to make people interested in your music as it will feel forced. The best way to discover music is to do just that—discover it. It’s way more organic. Ninety-percent of the music I constantly listen to has been the result of me discovering on my own. If the music is dope, people will share it. It’s that simple. Focus on the music.
Before we go, here’s a dream scenario: if you could collaborate with any artist or release on any label, what would your choices be?
This is a tough one. In terms of collaborations, I’d have to say MUST DIE! and SKisM. They’ve been the biggest influences on my sound as well as the fact that I purely admire their musical ideas and know that the turnout would absolutely be organic madness and a mash of our unique styles.
Likewise, the label would definitely have to be Never Say Die. I have every single NSD volume and have been an avid fan since early 2012, so I am more than humbled and honored to be involved with NSD: Black Label and XXL already and look forward to continuing to work with NSD in the future.