From most points of view, Distance (also known as DJ Distance) can be seen as one of the most influential producers in dubstep. Distance is, to most of us, personally responsible for bringing dubstep a rocky, metallic influence that manifests itself in phased and distorted reece basslines, sharp acoustic drum kits and distinct dark atmospheres.
The London-born and bred producer debuted with music that we could now categorise as breakbeat and grime. However, his inspiration was drawn from Metal – as he mentioned in an interview on the legendary Breezeblock Dubstep Warz show back in 2006. From the early days of his music, right up to present day, Distance has shown a clear signature sound. No tunes illustrate this signature more than 2004’s Drop 1, which came out on Sting Recordings.
As can be seen with most early dubstep artists, Distance moved to the more rigid kick-snare pattern in his first release on Hotflush Records in the same year as Drop 1. The breaky sound remained on a later release of the tracks 1 on 1 and Empire. His international breakthrough came with the release of Cyclops and Traffic on Planet Mu Records – two tracks supported by international DJs, played in Europe and in the US by the likes of Joe Nice. Discussing the music and legacy of Distance, Joe states:
“Distance brought musicality, aggression and tension to the scene. In my opinion, all are qualities necessary to music enjoyment.’’
Musicality is one of the key aspects found in Distance’s his solo album My Demons; a release that surfaced in late 2007 on Planet Mu. The title track has an acoustic feel, which contrasts with the progressive future sounds and rhythms found across the rest of the LP. Although bass heavy, Distance succeeds in taking listeners on a musical journey.
In an interview with Dubspot, Distance tells how his imprint Chestplate came to be. It started out as a platform to release his own music, and grew to a label on which 6 artists would release a sound specific to the label. Appearances from the likes of Cyrus, Tunnidge and later Sleeper and District have formed a rigid base that you could call the Chestplate sound: distorted, dark, atmospheric and melodic.
The aggressive nature of the Distance sound may be the most visible in V, released on Chestplate in 2008. Although the track rests at a tempo of 138 BPM, it hits hard and has a velocity in the distorted hits and basses. Aside to being a brilliant producer, many young dubstep fans may know Distance from his production tutorials on YouTube, where he showcases how to synthesise good bass sounds, reeces and atmospheres, or his Chestplate podcasts where he regularly supports up-and-coming producers.
In the same 2012 Dubspot interview, Distance reacts to the commercialisation of dubstep and the rise of brostep:
“It just doesn’t do anything to me. To me it’s just sounds. It doesn’t really grab me or take me somewhere, and for me when I hear a tune it needs to take me somewhere when I close my eyes, I’d imagine a film or something like it.”
The distinct difference between brostep and dubstep could not have been explained better. In our interview with him earlier this year, on dubstep’s seemingly declining popularity, Distance stated:
“I think it’s evolved so much it feels like it has gone round full circle. It started out very small then blew up out of proportion but right now it feels like it has reverted back a little to how it was 10 years ago. It’s no longer flavour of the month so the shows have shrunk a little and it has become more underground. I’m no longer playing along side Radio 1 DJs and festival headliners – and to be honest I probably never should have been.”
This change gave Distance the time to innovate his sound even outside the borders of the holy tempo of 140 BPM, gaining inspiration a range of producers outside of the dubstep sound. Continuous progression, with his own distinct style, is what makes Distance’s music so valuable – a worthy part of dubstep history…
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- Distance – Fallen [Boka Records, 2006]
- Distance – Feel Me [Chestplate, 2007]
- Distance – Temptation [Tectonic, 2006]
- Distance – Magnesium [Planet Mu, 2008]
- Distance – V [Chestplate, 2008]
- Cyrus & Distance – Violate [Random Trio Productions, 2008]
- Distance – Radical [Chestplate, 2007]
- Distance – Victim Support [Chestplate, 2008]
- Distance – Skeleton Grin [Planet Mu, 2008]
- Goth-Trad – Far East Assassin (Distance remix) [Skud Beat, 2007]
- Distance – No Warning [Chestplate, 2010]
- Distance – Menace [Chestplate, 2010]
- Milanese vs. Virus Syndicate – Dead Man Walking (Distance remix) [Planet Mu, 2006]