Interview with DJ Derek Sabiston

I talked to WKU senior Derek Sabiston recently about his experiences in music and more specifically his  involvement with dubstep music. Check out the interview below.


When did you first hear dubstep? Why were you intrigued by it?
How long have you been involved in the music scene? Were you in bands or anything before you started doing your own dubstep beats, remixes, etc..

 “I guess I first heard dubstep in like 2006 or 2007.  I was really into reggae, so I branched out to some reggae artists’ dub tracks and then got into UK garage music, which lead me to people like the burial, digital mystikz, big apple records, etc…

I was intrigued by it because it spawned through my attraction to reggae dub.  I also played bass guitar, and dubstep was driven by deep bass back then.  It was a good pace change from the electro and drum n bass I was listening too.

I’ve been involved in the music community for quite some time.  I started playing in bands when I was 15.  I played in 2 bands that spawned success across the region. We appeared with some nationally touring acts and also played shows in Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and throughout Kentucky. They were mostly metal and post hardcore bands.”

When did you start making your own beats, mashups, etc? What software do you use? How long did it take you to become familiar with the software?

“I had a copy of fruity loops during high school.  I was always fascinated my the creative process in writing music so I would make random beats and shit as a hobby on that.   Then in college me and my roomate would dick around on garage band making random shit and in summer of 2010 I got ableton live and that is what I use today.  I guess it took me about 6-8 months to get really familiar with it.”

Your dubstep mashup to “Whip My Hair” has garnered lots of attention online. Did you have any idea it would become so popular?

“No not at all.  I had always been keen to mashups due to how pleasing they could be to a crowd and how they re appropriated songs for different settings.  It was all timing really.  I was only making music and stuff as a hobby and it was the first thing I published to the web I’m pretty sure.  The whip my hair song was at its peak popularity and so was Bassnectar so it was all uphill from there.  I only made it to show my friends, and everyone thought it was badass so I made a youtube video and put it on there.”

Dubstep has moved from being a kind of underground thing to finding its way in pop music over the past year or so, did you foresee this at all?

“Yeah, I kinda did.  It was hard not to notice the amount of dance music playing on the radio last year.  And the amount of people I saw at shows in 2010 compared to 2011 was greatly increased.  I think it will trend out like most things because part of the reason it grew so much was the show factor accompanied in.  People wanted to go to shows and party.  That whole scene in general has blown up for better or for worse, you pick.”

Why do you think dubstep/electronic music has become so popular lately?

” Like I just said in the previous answer, people really enjoy the live aspect of dubstep and electronic.  Shows aren’t about the skill or just the music anymore.  The audio, the visiual, etc, is all becoming a factor in live music experience.  People are following in the path of Daft Punk.”

When you sit down and start to make a mashup or remix is there a certain process you go through creatively? Where do you find inspiration?

“Mashup, original track, and remix all have different processes for sure.  With a mashup you have 2 tracks  that are going to click or they aren’t.  You can’t really sit down and just try to make mashups. You hear a song and then think to yourself, oh shit, this would sound cool on top, or vice versa.  I don’t really have a certain process for anything.  Like I said it all stemmed off of hobby, and with school and work, it still hard to find the time to take it more seriously and start doing shows and shit.  You can find inspiration in anything really.  Crossing lines and breaking barriers are always good.  Farfetched inspiration and perspectives usually yields the best results.”

Check out Sabiston’s Soundcloud page to view other remixes and mash-ups :



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