Press Play on Stef Davidse: Rotterdam's Rising House Star
Feb 8, 2024
15 min read
The underground house scene is gaining a rising star in the Netherlands. Keep him on your radar - Stef Davidse. Still pursuing his studies, the young artist is rapidly making his name known and achieving success through his music while balancing a full course load.
Signed to respected labels like No Art and WYLD Records, pushing over two million Spotify streams on a collab with ANOTR, and constantly getting hit up in his comment section for more heaters to drop, it's clear that Stef is poised to break through as a next-generation superstar in house music.
Playing major parties across Europe, like Guerrilla, WYLD, Viva La Vita, and now looking forward to his upcoming show at Birmingham's renowned nightclub, Lab11, Stef’s plate is full as he juggles laying down heat on the dance floor while maintaining his studies.
Blending influences from his deep roots in hip-hop with rolling basslines and soulful vocal house grooves, Stef has carved a distinctive sound. Inspired in his early days by big names like East End Dubs and Archie Hamilton, the producer cites constant evolution and keeps his music pushing.
Having released on massive labels like Micro Hertz, WYLD, and now a very exciting EP on Eastenderz, Stef’s “new” sound continues to precede his reputation. Big things are on the horizon for the Dutchman.
Alongside his rising DJ career, Stef remains a dedicated student. Studying Leisure & Event Management, he utilizes his academy's creative network through the project "Electrolyte," which fuses art and clubbing. Meanwhile, Stef still finds time for the sports that help maintain his productive workflow.
Now it's time to drop some knowledge on Stef Davidse’s story – let’s dive into this exclusive interview!
How did your early experiences with music shape your current sound?
Since I was a kid, I've been into all sorts of music, especially with the radio always on at home. My taste in music has gone through different phases over the years, particularly within the realm of house music. Even today, I still enjoy listening to various sub-genres of house.
The mix of music styles has influenced my music. None of my tracks sound the same because I always try to draw inspiration from other songs. I aim to incorporate that blend of influences into my music, so each track has its unique sound.
What drew you to house music specifically in 2018, and how has your style evolved since then?
In 2018, I noticed the music scene in the Netherlands was on the rise. I delved into the world of house music by watching videos of Luuk van Dijk at the Strafwerk Festival, and I was immediately captivated. Around that time, I decided to visit my sister in Ibiza, where she lived at the time. There, I found myself surrounded by house music – it played on the radio, at parties we attended, it was everywhere. I couldn't get enough of it.
While I dabbled in producing a bit of hip-hop as a hobby back then, my desire to create house music grew immensely after that trip. I started fully focusing on producing house, and it became more and more serious. During that period, I also started going out more, especially to events where house music took center stage. These experiences greatly inspired and encouraged me to fully dedicate myself to making house music.
Was there a specific experience you had where you realized you wanted to stick to house or minimal music?
I remember my first electronic festival, DGTL, where Archie Hamilton was playing. It was the first time there was nice weather in the Netherlands, and his entire set was just amazing, and kind of a magical moment. Apart from that specific moment, there are so many reasons why I wouldn't want to do anything else.
I've been to parties of different genres, but there's nothing I enjoy more than house parties. They are so unique and provide the perfect experience for me. Because of my passion for this music, I continue to produce it. I could never create something I don't enjoy.
If there is any, can you describe the influence of hip-hop on your house music productions?
For me, it's mainly that I regularly listen to hip-hop alongside house, and that's why I incorporate it into some of my tracks. For example, the rhythms you hear in hip-hop occasionally make their way into my music, along with certain sound effects. Additionally, I often use vocals from old hip-hop songs. In many of those songs, there's talking, or things being shouted at the beginning. I enjoy using this in my music by sampling it.
What is your process for selecting vocals and percussion in your tracks?
I believe that a strong vocal can beat a lot of instruments. A good vocal can make your track distinctive, and that's why I'm always on the lookout for it. Sometimes it can be a challenge because searching for the right vocal can slow down your workflow. Therefore, it's good to have already found a vocal before or know where to look. Combining a good vocal with clean percussion, in my opinion, can result in the perfect track.
Can you share your experience working with ANOTR and the journey to achieving over 2 million Spotify streams?
It all started when I had been producing for less than two years. I had the track “Burnin” ready, but it didn't sound exactly how I wanted it to. Although the chords, vocals, and a small part of the arrangement were fine, the rest wasn't quite up to par. So, the track took a back seat for a while.
Until ANOTR posted on Twitter asking for promos. My good friend Suleiman messaged me immediately and said, ‘Send Burnin.’ Initially, I thought: No, this track is not good enough to share. Eventually, I sent the track, and within a day, I received feedback. They liked the track, but something was missing. I tried to improve it, but at that time, my production skills were not as advanced. I even remember sending the track to them multiple times for feedback, while my entire track was in stereo.
In the end, ANOTR also took on the track. They elevated it to a higher level, and it eventually became a sort of collaboration. Once the track came to life and started playing on the airwaves, we both knew it had to be released. Especially in England, the track was already popular before its official release. People kept asking me when it was coming out in DMs, and some even offered a substantial amount to buy it before the release. The contact with the guys from ANOTR was pleasant from the beginning; they even invited me for a studio session. They are smart guys who know what they're doing.
I'm still happy that they believed in that track; it was a fantastic experience. Since the track was released, the streams have been surpassing my wildest expectations. I knew ANOTR's reach was significant, but I could never have dreamed of this. Since reaching 1 million streams, I even got the cover tattooed on my arm. Not just because of the stream count, but also because the track and everything around it taught me a lot and propelled me forward.
What was it like releasing music on Archie Hamilton's label, Micro Hertz?
Archie Hamilton has always been one of my favorite artists. I'm a fan of both his old and new productions. When I saw him at DGTL in 2018 or 2019, which happened to be my first electronic music festival, I was completely captivated. His sound resonated with me so much that he became one of my major sources of inspiration, a sentiment that still holds true. It felt like an honor to release music on his label.
The EP on the label is a collaboration with Ryan Resso, my preferred collaborator. We have a great understanding and can be honest about our creative desires. We've been working on tracks together since we first met, and there's more to come. Witnessing Archie play the two tracks in Australia got us excited; the audience went wild. Archie immediately expressed interest in signing the tracks. It couldn't have been better.
How significant is the upcoming EP release on East End Dubs' label, East Enderz, for your career?
I still don't know what this will mean for my career, but what I do know is that this EP means a lot to me personally. It provides additional confirmation that things are getting serious now and that it's heading in the direction I've dreamed of. The fact that East End Dubs wants to sign four of my tracks has taken away a lot of uncertainty. This helps me create more tracks and send them out.
East End Dubs has also been a major source of inspiration for me in recent years, especially in how he innovates and remains highly relevant with few releases. Eastenderz seems to be the label of this era; they release both established and new talent, and every release is of high quality. The events they organize at various locations also look impressive. The four tracks I'm releasing on Eastenderz represent my 'new' sound. I struggled for a long time to find my sound, and with these tracks, it finally feels like it fits me.
Are there any artists or producers you particularly admire or draw inspiration from?
Besides the above-mentioned artists, I also appreciate L.P. Rythm and Gaskin. These guys are machines. The series of great tracks they are making this time is very inspiring. They cleverly managed to combine a mix of old and new elements.
Furthermore, I think Ryan Resso is very talented. He has found his recognizable sound, which is evident in his tracks. He regularly sends me great tracks that energize every set I play them in. I also get a lot of inspiration from One Over's tracks. Although I only recently discovered him, I'm finding fat tracks on his SoundCloud and Bandcamp. Everything I've heard so far is powerful, energetic, and has a unique character.
What are you excited about and what are your goals with WYLD Records now that you will be working with them more often?
WYLD has given me some great opportunities. Since my first release, “Love Yourself Anthem,” on the label, I've had a lot of contact with them. I share many tracks with Ryan Resso (the founder), and we collaborate on songs. The sound that WYLD promotes is innovative, and their active approach resonates with me.
They've recently taken over my UK bookings, and I hope to play there often. So far, every show I’ve had in England has been fantastic. I feel that my sound is more popular there than in the Netherlands, and I'm more appreciated. The music scene in England is, in any case, more passionate and more extensive; I sense that in every aspect. I'm looking forward to March 9th, when I play for their 4th anniversary at Lab11 in Birmingham. It's an amazing venue with a great sound system, and besides that, the lineup that day is fantastic, featuring names like Rossi, L.P. Rythm, and Azaad.
How do you balance your music career with your studies at the art academy?
Honestly, it can be quite challenging at times. I find myself getting too engrossed in producing when I should be focusing on school, and the weekend trips abroad don't help with staying on track academically. So far, I've been managing well, and if I dedicate a bit less time to producing, I can easily keep up. However, the passion for producing is just too strong.
I'm pursuing a degree in Leisure & Event Management, and I believe it complements what I'm already doing perfectly. I get to meet a lot of people in the event scene, and my school is filled with creative individuals I can collaborate with. Besides benefiting my network, I'm also making new friends with whom I've started a project called 'Electrolyte.'
Can you tell us more about your project Electrolyte and its aim to combine nightlife and art?
The concept of Electrolyte was born with friends from my studies, and fellow students from my studies. With Electrolyte, we aim to integrate art into nightlife. We do this by organizing club nights and exhibitions, mainly with artists from our academy.
Art and nightlife are two worlds that are strongly intertwined; art transforms the nightlife experience and nightlife also causes art to be experienced differently. During our first event, we already saw that people were getting more involved with art. We are currently busy with exciting plans for 2024 and are looking forward to our first club night in March, where we will be working a lot with audiovisual art.
What has been your most memorable performance in Europe so far, and why?
I think my UK debut last year at the club Lab11 is the one I remember best; the whole experience of the club was so different again for me than in the Netherlands and the B2B with Gaskin was also great. I felt like I could totally do my own thing and the venue completely flooded during the show. Later in the night, I did another B2B with Ryan Resso in a slightly smaller after-club, where we kept going until we were fed up, which is something I had always wanted to do.
Looking forward, what are you most excited about in your music career and evolving as an artist? Is there anything you’re scared of?
I'm very happy that I finally have a certain sound in mind that suits me best. What I do worry about is continuing to produce relevant tracks. I haven't been comfortable for a while now and I haven't made much music in a few months, which I think is super important to do to stay heard. I hope I can teach myself a certain workflow that will always work for me, but this is still developing.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be and why?
I think I'll go for Rossi. then, his sample choice in terms of vocals along with the other elements in a track of his feels to me like the perfect mix for a good track. I also find the way he stays unique and interesting, his recognizable sound from a few years ago became too repetitive for my liking, but he handled it well and made sure his sound stays diverse.
What's the funniest or most unexpected thing that's happened to you during a performance?
I don't think there has been a specific special moment that stands out. However, many funny and naughty things have obviously happened during my nightlife adventures, which I can't always talk about. But what we can discuss is when I saw someone standing in the crowd with a dog in her arms. Or when I saw a security guard tripped over all the wiring, causing all the power to go out. I hope many more fun experiences come my way because I always love adventure.
What’s been the hardest part about producing music? What’s the most rewarding part?
For me personally, the most challenging part of producing is when I'm working on a track and get stuck in the loop I've created. This happens quite often: I create something I'm happy with, but it's always missing that one element that completes the whole track. These are the most frustrating hours in the studio, and they sometimes make producing less enjoyable.
Fortunately, there are always days when you find the right sounds you are looking for. When that happens, I can get so happy. Then I usually pretty much finish the track right away, no matter how long it may take. Some days I invite friends into the studio to just come and chill. We make music and always have fun during the process. These moments made me realize repeatedly that producing is a great hobby for me and let me see only the positive side of the whole process.
Which country has the best rave/festival scene?
I haven't unlocked many countries yet, but among the places where I've played, England stands out. The folks there know so many artists, and I often sense the passion when I perform at a good gig. You can see in them that they light up from a fantastic party, and that uplifts me.
If you could describe this past year in three words, what would they be?
Change, work, and learning.
What’s something you enjoy doing during your free time? (Aside from music and school).
Naturally, I love going out; it's attending great events that got me into all of this in the first place. So, I shouldn't forget what my biggest source of inspiration is. Additionally, I have a strong passion for sports. It may sound cliché, but engaging in sports helps me find rhythm and achieve goals. I always feel that when my fitness routine is on track, everything else falls into place as well.