The dubstep figurehead highlights the tracks that led to his musical rebirth.
From making an impression on the burgeoning dubstep scene through his metallic interpretation of the sound in 2003, to his tireless work ethic hosting radio, playing nights, and running the Chestplate label – Distance has become one of the scene’s most recognisable figureheads.
After almost a decade’s hiatus from full-length releases Distance now brings us Dynamis – named after the English word which means “the state of that which is not yet fully realised” – to Pinch’s legendary Tectonic, a release four years in the making.
The release is somewhat of a departure for Distance, veering away from his 140 roots by allowing newfound influence from the productions of FKA Twigs and A$AP Ferg, as well as the film scores of Hanz Zimmer, to seep into his sound. In light of these new influences, Dynamis is the first Distance release to feature vocals, incorporating the rapid-fire vocal talents of Killa P and Beezy into the mix.
Ahead of the album’s release on October 21st, Distance has graced us with nine tracks (and one mixing tutorial) – incorporating everything from Drake to Pantera to Arca – which have inspired Dynamis.
1. Chromatics – Tick of the clock (Drive)
I was on a flight back from New Zealand when I first watched the movie “Drive” and the music was amazing!! This track really caught my attention because it was so simple and hypnotic. The texture around the drums and blips along with the reverb’s create such an interesting environment. The track, and probably the whole Drive film score influenced me massively. Sometimes you come across little gems like this that shift your way of thinking.
2. FKA twigs – Papi Pacify
I stumbled across FKA twigs in 2013 when she was working heavily with Arca and the production blew my mind. It was just different, and at a period when I was feeling fed up with what I had been making. This really gave me a kick to explore more music and explore new ways of writing my own music. You had a beautiful vocal matched with amazing beats, sub-bass and an underground mentality. A combination I definitely explored in Dynamis.
3. Arca – Vanity
It makes sense to mention Arca now. What can I say…… his music made me rethink everything about producing. I was so used to making tracks for DJs with these restricting structures and formulas. I translated his sound as ‘fuck what you know and ignore what people might want to hear’. Go explore.
The sound design is very unique, dark and emotionally powerful. I could relate that to my music as that has always been my goal with composing. Create music that affects you. Whether it helps you step outside your life for four minutes or transports you back to a place or time, good or bad.
4. Pantera – New Level (Live at monster of Rock in Milano)
Whilst most other producers I know grew up listening to Jungle, dub and Acid house I was listening to Metal. Rock and Metal got me making music from the age of 11 and it’s probably why I like to work with vocals so much. I love the energy and the rawness. It Influenced so much of my music at the beginning, tracks such as V, and Menace are basically me creating metal without a band ha ha. The tracks also make you feel something (you’re going to hear me say that a lot lol). Pantera, and in particular their guitarist Dimebag Darrel were a huge inspiration. When writing “Badman” Featuring Killa P I was definitely chasing this raw energy, the Chorus is Mosh material ha ha. One of the biggest lessons I took away from listening to metal is to be yourself, make your own sound and don’t replicate.
5. The Dark Knight Rises OST
This kind of music still sends shivers down my spine. It grabs your soul. Film scores influenced my album more than anything, especially in regards to the way they are mixed. I really tried to replicate the dynamics of a film score. Sounds being drastically panned from left to right, huge build-ups and being quite brash with certain sounds. In the past I would be quite reserved when introducing certain sounds into the mix, but with Dynamis I wanted to rethink the way I did everything. I wanted to mix the tracks as thought they were a mixture between Film Scores, hip hop and UK underground music.
6. Drake – The Language
And now for Drake. So I never used to listen to music like this, well not in detail anyway until I met and worked with Riz Mc (Rizwan Ahmed). During producing his album he would play me a lot of the music he was into and I couldn’t get over the production and the mixdowns. The drums are so heavy, vocals are clear, bass is solid. My mixdown mentality changed there and then! The only thing I tried to maintain was the sub bass from dubstep and UK bass music as Hip/trap music tending to just excite the lower mid frequencies in the bass but not push the real sub frequencies. It wasn’t just tracks produced for Drake that influenced me though, Kendrick Lamar, School Boy Q and A$AP Mob all played their part. A lot of their tracks have a great atmospheric/ethereal feel but still maintain a ruffness.
7. Tron Legacy – The Grid
The only time I really get to listen to music is when traveling and it was on my way back from Leeds playing at SUBDUB I first got to truly appreciate the Tron Legacy Soundtrack. That soundtrack alone spurred so much new music from me. I love the ’80s sounds and the original analog synths. You will definitely notice some of these sounds on the album.
8. Danny Weed – Creeper (Instrumental)
This track didn’t leave my record bag for so long back in the day. This was back when Grime was still being called 8 bar. I found myself listening to some of these older grime tracks for inspiration. I really like the rawness of them and the simplicity. I applied some of this mentality to a lot of the tracks. You can easily get caught up in the mix down process trying to make every little thing perfect, these kind of beats remind me that vibe is so much more important than how clean and balanced a mix is. The art of mixing isn’t to make everything perfect but to develop your own mix style and taste. I definitely approached the production and mixing process of Dynamis in different ways to my previous albums.
9. Cliff Martinez – I Drive
Cliff Martinez music stops me in my tracks. I literally can’t do anything at the same time. I have to sit and notice it, it pulls you into a space that shouldn’t be interrupted. I try to create similar moments within my tracks, these beautiful moments of escape. Definitely some moments like this in ‘Instruction to Survive’ and ‘Sink or Swim’.
10. Daniel Lanois mixing tutorial
Ross Allen, who I work with a lot sent me a video of Pharrell interviewing Daniel Lanois (who I had never heard of). He’s an amazing producer and mixing engineer. I later did my own digging online and came across this video of Daniel Lanois mixing using the faders to create his finished tracks. This idea blew me away, the thought of mixing my tracks so that nothing was static really appealed to me. Most music produced for DJs and club environments is very static.
Once a track drops the kicks and bass synth all pretty much stay at the set volume, it hit me then how boring and limiting this was. When you listen to live music or the Film Scores I mentioned they are continuously evolving. Strings being plucked softer and harder drums being gently brushed then smashed with a drumstick. The music has life, it breaths. I bought a control surface especially so that I could ride the faders through my tracks making loads of subtle moves in volume, panning and even EQ manipulation. It’s a great way to work.
Dynamis will be released on 21st October, pre-order your copy here.