DJ Distance In The Studio

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Future Loops have just released Distance Dubstep, a sample pack created by acknowledged dubstep producer, DJ and Chestplate label founder Distance. Get Distance’s essential studio tips and tricks right here…

Please introduce yourself…
I’m Distance I’m a dubstep producer and DJ. I’ve always had a great interest in music and how it’s made. After becoming a fan of UK ¬†Garage and Drum and Bass I decided to give producing a go and here I am.

How do you approach a tune? Drums first? Melody?
It is different every time but mostly I start by laying down a rough drum loop. Anything can inspire a track for me, sometimes it only takes one sound to get the ball rolling.

Does your approach differ depending on which genre you are making?
Not normally. I tend to work the same way regardless of style.

What time of day do you work best?
Early. I normally start around 9am, I always have more energy and patience in the morning.

What do you do when you’re not feeling inspired?
Take a break then normally go to the gym or play on the Xbox. It really helps going to the gym because it gives me a chance to listen to music properly rather than skipping through tracks on my laptop.

Where is your studio set up and what does it consist of?
My studio is in a spare room in my house. I run Cubase v.5 on a PC and use a shit load of plug-ins plus a few hardware synths. My monitors are Genelec 1032as they are my babies!!!

What’s the boring, workhorse plug-in/piece of kit that you use all the time?
Spectrasonics Trilogy. It’s been used in almost every track of mine for the last five years.

What’s the best piece of equipment you’ve ever used?
I have a midi guitar that’s pretty sick.

Which sequencer do you use and why?
I use Cubase and I always have. It just does everything I need it to do with ease. I think it sounds amazing too. I’ve used Logic a few times when working with other producers but I find the audio editing side of it limited.

Any new studio technology or gear you’re liking at the moment?
I’ve just started experimenting with hardware synthesizers and I really enjoy using them. It’s cool being able to actually touch and play the synth rather than fumble around with the mouse trying to get knobs to turn. They also sound a lot better – much warmer and richer than some of the software synths.

Any advice you can give us regarding mixdowns?
Whenever I have a nightmare mix I always turn everything right down and start again. This always works for me, plus during the mixing process my channels always seem to creep up which is a nightmare if something needs a boost. Give yourself a break as well, sometimes if you leave the studio for 30 minutes then come back you realise what you thought was a shit mix is actually pretty good.

For a good mix you really need to understand frequencies so if you are starting out it’s worth doing your research.

Last tip is to listen to your tracks in different environments: on the iPod, in the car, on your mum’s shit stereo. If a track sounds good on a crap stereo chances are it will sound even better in a club.

What production technique do you think is really overused / annoying?
Some people go over the top with limiting to make their tracks as loud as possible. That winds me up because most of the time the track ends up sounding really flat and lose all of the original dynamics. At the end of the day, it’s down to the producer using it. Limiting can be amazing if you know what you’re doing.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out?
I guess the knowledge I have now of EQing and compression, it would have been a great help back then…

Please list your top five plug-ins…
Cubase amp simulator, URS 1970 compressor, ArtsAcoustic Reverb, Reaktor FX and PSP Nitro.

Tell us about the sample pack you’ve made for Future Loops…
I wanted to make a proper dubstep pack that covered all angles of the sound, from 2step beats to dubby ones to dark tear-out. The pack contains 25 projects folders and each folder contains three grooves. I’ve included all the elements: drums, sub, mid bass, FX and synths. There is a lot there to work with.

Do you ever collaborate in the studio? If so who have you worked with so far and what would be your dream collaboration?
Yes, I’ve collaborated with Pinch, Skream, Cyrus, Benga and have just started a track with N-Type. I really want to work with Mala and I’m sure it will happen sooner or later. I’d love to work with metal bands like Korn, System Of A Down and Fear Factory.

What’s the best piece of advice you have for any producer starting out?
Get decent monitors, it’s the most important piece of studio equipment you’re going to buy.

What have you been working on recently?
I’ve been writing beats and playing a lot of gigs plus planning forthcoming releases on my label
Chestplate.

What do you have coming out soon?
My remix of Mr Lager’s track Tell Me ft. Alys Blaze will be out soon on Sub Freq. I also have a track forthcoming on Tectonic plus a few of my 170 bpm bits will be released later on in the year.

What tracks, producers and labels are you feeling at the moment?
Really into what Tunnidge is doing right now and also Lurka, Tes La Roc, Pinch and Cyrus. Deep Medi, Swamp81 and Tectonic are all labels releasing great music.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
My New Zealand tour has just been confirmed. I’ll be doing three shows over there in August and I’m also going back to the States in September.

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