As the sound continues to be accused dying, with the founding fathers moving to pastures new, some might say dubstep is pretty dire trouble. But one of the original dons, one of the south London producers who helped shape the sound we all know and love, a DJ who was there in 2006 for the Dubstep Warz Breezeblock show and who continues to play all over the world to this day, might disagree (as do we, pretty extensively, here on FatKidOnFire).
Ahead of his first 2014 residency with one of the UK’s best – if not the best – venues, I recently caught up with Chestplate founder DJ Distance to discuss his history, and what both the present and the future holds for him and his world-famous imprint. And what came together might just be the best FatKidOnFire Presents feature in the series’ short history.
So here it is. This is FatKidOnFire Presents #7 – Distance…
Easy Distance, thanks for your time. How’s it going? Not too bad thanks; busy as always.
Everyone’s coming to the end of the 2013 recaps, but were there any particular highlights for you in the past 12 months? Well over the last 12 months, I’ve become a lot more involved in producing for other people; plus doing a lot of mix engineer work. I’ve had the privilege to meet some amazing artists so that’s definitely been a highlight. My wife’s pregnant so my first kid is on its way real soon – I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited!
I was fortunate enough to work with Daily Dubstep last October to put on a Chestplate event in Belgium and that was just one of those gigs I will never forget!
Your background in musicianship, bands and metal have been pretty well documented, but do you think the skills learned on the road and your music tastes from your younger days still shape the Distance sound today? Most definitely. I write at my best when I find new music which excites me; I’m always hungry for new music! I would say 2013 was the first time in a very long time that I actually spent hours upon hours listening to music. I find producing becomes so dry if you don’t venture outside your comfort zone. I rarely listen to dubstep.
As for being on the road again, you meet some inspiring people plus hear music you may not have come across otherwise.
You’re one of heads from the early days of dubstep (back when it was still known as “FWD>> music”) who’s still consistently producing, releasing and playing out. How has being involved in the genre evolved for you in the last decade? I would say Pinch, Mala, Coki, Cyrus, Youngsta, Hatcha, Ntype… Damn that’s actually a hard question as most producers have now either quit or moved to another scene.
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.
There is a lot of new blood in the scene in regards to producers – DJs and the audience. I don’t mean this in an offensive way to anybody but it feels like the dog shit has finally been scraped off dubstep’s boot! It just became too crazy too soon and a free for all for anyone who had an ounce of production skill. Quality got thrown out the window and was replaced with online likes and hits. It feels like these days have passed.
We just need to keep it interesting! I get sent so much stale music it’s unbelievable. Even the dark stuff is getting a little boring for me now… People are just regurgitating the same sounds and same layouts.
There are only a handful of producers really keeping this scene alive.
Making the move from producer to label owner, you’ve just signed two brand new artists to the Chestplate roster for early 2014 releases, including the label’s first US artist. Have you got a particular process for Chestplate A&R? I don’t! Certain music just grabs me and I can’t stop thinking about it. That’s when I know I have to sign it. Sometimes I know I’m not even hearing a finished article but I believe that once an unsigned artist gets signed it can give them that extra confidence to do what they want.
I always encourage the artists to just write whatever they want, I don’t want them to write music for Chestplate: I want them to write music for themselves!
What’s the decision process for what gets pressed and released on vinyl and what goes out on digital? Well up until recently, every release has been pressed to vinyl but costs and distribution technicalities means this will have to change.
Is there a Chestplate ‘sound’? Or is the ethos still “remain true but bring out out future-sounding music” as you put it to Hedmuk? I’m sure there is a sound associated with Chestplate but I don’t sign artists with that in mind. More then ever I’m pushing the artists to create something new. I don’t want to be one of those labels that just releases records for the sake of it. The label was pretty quiet towards the end of last year – that was deliberate.
I want to releases quality new music, not what’s current or popular at that time. I want to lead the way. So if that means not releasing anything for 4 months then thats the way it has to be.
Other than the new releases from the likes of Mesck, Leon Switch and the other artists, what can we expect from the label this year? More music from myself, possibly more releases as Chestplate will be releasing some digital-only tracks so the turn around is a lot quicker.
We may even go fully digital. I just don’t know right now.
We’re preparing for the first Chesplate Fabric takeover of the new year. How did that relationship come about? They approached me to do a one of Chestplate takeover through my agent at Primary Talent and then, a year later, offered me a residency. I still can’t really believe it! So happy to be part such a historic night club/brand! Between us we have some big plans for 2014.
What can you tell us about your FKOF Presents mix? Its a good mix of what I’m feeling right now and what’s to come on Chestplate.
Given the amount of new music you get sent, which of the newer producers are you rating at the moment? Obviously Mesck! Proxima is a amazing producer. Prism, Slaven, Buketz Finezt… There are more but my mind has gone blank.
We’ve had a few questions submitted by the FKOF FB fans;
– Is the/ when is the Deleted Scenes album coming out? There is no release date but we are fully on the case.
– How’s your new album progressing – can we look for a 2014 release? It’s on the back burner right now, no solid plans right now. Will definitely make a start this year though.
– What inspired you to start Chestplate? I just wanted to be able to release my music without having to wait for anyone’s approval.
– Are you still making non-140bpm music? If so, who’s supporting (e.g. dBridge for your DnB etc)? I am yes! I spent the whole of last year writing a album with Rizwan Ahmed and there isn’t one 140 track on there. I have a new EP coming out in March called Outer Limits – one of the tracks, System Reset, is 85bpm… That’s being supported by a few DnB heads.
Any final words or shout outs to finish? See you at Fabric! Just a big shout out to every who supports what I’m doing. I’m here purely for the music nothing more. Knowing people enjoy my music pushes me to keep going. So big up the blogs, DJs, producers, artists, promoters and the followers!
Click to DOWNLOAD
There is no track list for Distance’s FKOF Presents mix – but the guys on SoundCloud have done their best to fill in the blanks.
“Playaz once again returns to FABRICLIVE for their monthly residency. This particular date presents the awaited launch of Taxman’s Synthetic Visions album. Hype, Hazard and Pascal will join forces with man of the moment Taxman set to share the selections with Original Sin. Incendiary duo The Prototypes are also out in force alongside Tyke and MC’s IC3, Evil B, AD and Funsta MC.
“As per, the legendary LTJ Bukem calls in his legion of DnB players for the infamous Bukem In Session in RM2. Stepping up alongside LTJ are supreme selectors Fabio, Danny Wheeler and the meticulous sounds of DJ Thaigo.
“Dubstep veteran Distance brings his pioneering imprint Chestplate to the third floor for the first leg of their FABRICLIVE residency of 2014. The label boss teams up with audio-menace Commodo and Cyrus whilst sub-rattling architects Sleeper and District also appear alongside host LX:ONE.”
Order your tickets (currently £18 with £1 BF) on the Fabric website here. Tickets are £19 OTD (or £13 for students and fabricfirst members) or £10 after 3am. Doors open at 10pm and lights are up around 6am.
Chestplate’s latest EP, Sleeper & District’s Resurrection, is the label’s first digital-only release. Buy CHSTD001 from Juno here.
Distance’s next release, the Outer Limits EP, is forthcoming Chestplate, across two volumes, and will be available from the label’s Surus store. The first features Andromeda and Broken Dawn with Vol. 2 featuring Untouchable and System Reset. Release date is March 10th and formats TBA…
Distance’s Chestcast Vol. 6 dropped last month, announcing two new artists to the imprint (the podcast features 30m mixes from Leon Switch and Mesck). You can stream and download on SoundCloud here.