Archives for posts with tag: Distal


Simple, effective and finely-tuned. I’d say these are accurate ways to describe ATL based, Distal. After hearing about him through interviewing HxdB (hear the solid Booyant/Amphibian release accompanied by an Archie Pelago remix), I was determined to get him on Disco Droppings. His sound and distinct attitude are something to celebrate, so I’ve set up this lengthy conversation with Michael Rathbun aka Distal, for your reading pleasure. We cover his recent travels, getting accepted into RBMA 2012, several releases from his label, Embassy Recordings, the U.S. internet bills and such. Not discussed, is his ultra fresh album “Civilization” on Tectonic Recordings. Hear a few tracks in this feature, and pick up the full release here.

DD Welcome to Disco Droppings Distal! Been looking forward to this. You just got back home from playing some shows yah?

DISTAL Yes sir, just did some industry shows with Trouble & Bass and Scion. Other than that just working hard and staying busy, also trying to find some time to relax in between!


DD Big congratulations for being accepted into the Red Bull Music Academy. My buddy Kid Smpl also got in. You have a lot of experience as a DJ, producer and label manager. What attracted you to the program? Who do you hope lectures this year?

DISTAL Thanks. Yeah I’m always down to learn and grow. It seemed like an amazing experience to take advantage of. Everyone I know that has gone through the program has learned a lot and gone on with their career with great support from Red Bull. It’s a win win to stay creative, active and attentive. I hope they get some old school techno guys to teach this year. I learn a lot from past generations.


DD I’ve gathered that you’re really into film and books. What have you been reading/watching lately? How often do these interests bleed into your track names and ideas for songs?
DISTAL Man yeah I love watching film and reading. I watch more film than I do read, but I’m always immersed in one or the other. And yeah I would say in an unrelated way the two worlds do connect from time to time. I just watched La Haine … an amazing French film from the mid 90’s with an early Vincent Cassel. It’s about violence, class warfare and gun control in France. Such an amazing movie.

Films have a different emotional response from me. So much of what I do is robotic, and there’s something so very human about good film. Reminds me that I’m alive and being human is not only a struggle, but at times a very beautiful thing to be. Also, I sample the hell out of films!

I’m currently reading “All The Pretty Horses” by Cormac McCarthy. I love his work. First thing I read from him was “The Road”, which I suggest anyone who has a few hours to spare should definitely read. I love reading his books real slow and methodically. He writes in these elaborate prose that weave in and out of fiction and poetry. Definitely for fans of dry westerns. I’m also finishing a fun biography on Frank Zappa by Barry Miles (The guy you might remember from that big famous book “HIPPIE”). An amazing and fun read, very inspirational for ANY musician who is fighting the good fight.

I just finished reading “Atlas Shrugged” earlier this year, I’ve been meaning to read it for a long time, because I think it’s very ironic how easily our current situation can be related to this semi-fictional novel. I get a lot of flack for enjoying Rand’s work but I think most of her haters are coming from a place of bandwagon sentiment. None of them have read it, they just want to hate it to be against something. At least when I dislike something, I’ve taken my time to give it a fighting chance.

DD XI recently was interviewed here, and he’s quickly become a favorite of mine. I saw you two hanging out through Instagram. What did you guys do? Any collaborations in the works? That would be insane.

DISTAL We’re good buds and I spent some time at his house in Berlin when I was touring in Europe. It was such a fun week and unfortunately we never took the opportunity to work on music, although there is DEFINITELY some collaboration work with Embassy and XI coming out in the near future. He’s an amazing artist and friend, can’t say enough good things about that guy.


DD One recent release from your label Embassy Recordings really stood out to me. Your 10th release, Sleepyhead’s My Lyf. I first heard “Nothing Changes” via Mirror State on his show, incredible tune.

DISTAL We loved Sleepyhead’s stuff for a while now. It’s very romantic and subdued but still has this edge to it. It’s almost mysterious at times. He’s a funny character. Mite and I first heard My Lyf and were both sold on it from Day 1. He had given out ‘Nothing Changes’ online a few months prior to us signing it, but I didn’t care, I wanted more people to hear it regardless of it potentially being pirated. It’s probably my favorite song on the EP, and from what I’ve heard other peoples favorite as well.

DD Switching up the mood, I have to go back to this Wheez-ie Keep Yer Chin Up release. This collection of songs is savage. The title track, with that vocal sample is huuuuge. I don’t have a question for you on this, just wanna say thank you for giving these tracks a home on your label.

DISTAL Yeah man, just WAIT. Our second release with Wheez-ie will be on vinyl and it will be HUGE.


DD You recently played Boiler Room. Your 8+ years of dj’ing really show here. What was it like that night?

DISTAL Hah funny story about that night. I barely made it to the gig. I went the wrong way on the bus in London. Then the new bus I got on broke down. Then I couldn’t find the building and the security guy was giving me a hard time getting in. I was sweating bullets from running when I arrived, only had a few mins to down a few shots of whiskey and just step up. A big ole can of “phew” was served that night. The experience itself was an honor! It was really nice to see everyone back home tuning in and watching. Tectonic is a great family and I’m happy with them.

DD Many artists shy away from politics, but you’re very comfortable weighing in on things. You’re from America, what do you think of these internet bills? I signed petitions against SOPA/PIPA, and now there’s CISPA…I’ve lost track of everything and gotten discouraged as they just won’t stop bringing these bills back. What would your advice be to people who feel disillusioned by politics? Especially with something involving the internet, which we’re so deeply connected to. 

DISTAL The internet is the last form of FREE and unbiased information and communication that the human race has left. If we let the government get involved, we are surely condemning our communication to a life of servant-hood to the state. The government has no right to be involved in matters of the internet. They use the excuse that they are protecting the market place from pirates.. If they really want to protect the economy they’ll back away from it and let the market place handle the market place, they’ll stop bailing out business’ with our tax dollars, and stop the federal reserve from being a wrecking ball to our currency. Not to mention how much money we waste on useless overseas spending and involving ourselves in foreign affairs. Do we not have enough to worry about here? It’s common sense, and Thomas Paine would be pretty pissed.

I don’t care what people think. If you’re an intelligent adult, feel free to engage me in some good conversation about the issues. I don’t object to criticism and/or discussion. The only way we can move forward is to bring these issues into the light, be involved and debate them. To the disillusioned people I say, wake up before its too late.

DD Any final words? I hope to have you back again soon. Thanks for taking time out to talk with Disco Droppings.

DISTAL Shout outs to everyone who’s supported me over the years. I wouldn’t be here without your love and support. Oh, and to Obama, my career, yeah I built that. Lol see ya soon man.

Distal – Facebook Twitter Soundcloud

– Jimi Jaxon


There are wonderful things happening in Vancouver, Canada, and HxdB is a prime example. I talk with the prolific producer about 2 releases that got me hyped. Enjoy learning about Booyant / Amphibian and Hoof Hearted / New Style ..and if they move you, pick em up!


DD The “Booyant/Amphibian” release on Tectonic is very rad. I played “Amphibian” as well as the Archie Pelago remix of “Booyant” (which is mind-blowing) in my last set, and plan to play them a whole lot more. How did working with Distal encourage and challenge you?

HX Well, Mike and I each approach production very differently, in addition to the fact we both use different sequencers. So when we actually got down to starting our collaborations in the studio, we approached it very organically. We had great synergy straight away, each person allowing the other to take the reigns when needed. We were both really flexible imposing our ideas and I think that’s why we were able to come up with 2 very unique and distinct tunes. It’s safe to say we both learned a lot from each other in terms of techniques and overall vibes. Working with another person in the studio is always an interesting challenge since you have to learn each person’s workflow and level of comfort taking and giving orders, heheh.



DD Both of us have experience managing labels, do you feel this gives you a unique perspective on the music community and how you would like to contribute to it?

HX TBH, I don’t think my perspective has changed much from when I began to now. I have always been very fortunate to have an extensive network of peers and friends creating incredible music from which to tap. Certainly, from a contribution stand-point, I am afforded the freedom to promote the sounds that move me. I really didn’t have the chance to do that before becoming involved with Gradient Audio



DD You mentioned in a past interview that a Daega Sound set, as well as Skream’s performance at a past Shambhala got you re-interested in producing. Daega Sound was on my blog a little while back, and I’ve become a huge fan of Skream recently. How do you feel these artists present their own distinct style? I dig the forthcoming Daega Sound/Kid Smpl No Northwest Cycle 2 EP #3, out now on Car Crash Set..

HX You can hear when an artist or group has “found” their groove. It is clear when you hear acts like Daega or Skream, that their brand is their sound. They stick to their guns and have a clear vision of what they would like to accomplish with their art. It’s inspiring and potent. Keep your ears peeled for a forthcoming collaboration 12″ with Daega and HxdB soon too! We’ve just wrapped up the first project and it’s VERY exciting.


DD I also enjoyed this “Hoof Hearted/New Stylee” release you did with Self Evident, out now on Palms Out Sounds. With support from Canblaster, Distal, Dubbel Dutch and Salva, that’s quite the stamp of approval. “New Stylee” is super badass, a fitting name for such a fresh and inspired track. What’s the environment like when you and Self Evident work together, compared to Distal?

HX Ben and I are like Voltron in the studio. Two, individually unique producers become a JUGGERNAUT when combined, hehehe. Seriously though, we love working together so much since our dynamic is so unique. The way we develop ideas is so natural and we’re constantly striving to push the boundaries of our individual sounds and make sure that our collaborations have their own distinct edge. We’ve just wrapped up yet another song, which is if I’m not mistaken our tenth song together! In comparison to working with Mike though, I would say it comes down to symantics. Mike is a genius when it comes to programming, where Ben is a genius when it comes to sample mining. Both are equal-parts genius when it comes to vision.

DD You opened a recent Night Slugs showcase in Vancouver. I made a point to work at their showcase for Decibel Festival last year, definitely my favorite event to witness. What’s your favorite release from them?

HX Anything by Mosca really. I just love how his songs are so incredibly meticulously designed but still have that stipped back sound. I guess you could say “Nike” is my fave….What an epic journey that song is!

DD Last words?

HX I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has supported me over the years. All of my wonderful friends, family and fans. All of my mentors and peers that have taught me SO much, taught me the value of being true to yourself and remaining humble. I love eveyone, especially my haters. Oh, and fuck Monsanto.


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– Jimi Jaxon