“We’ve been going for 7 years now and it’s geared towards the more soulful New York sound.” said Brooklyn dwelling producer/DJ Jon Cutler of his record label Distant when we spoke in 2003. “Originally when I started the label it seemed like vocals might have been out of the question, but it seems a lot larger audience is opening up to that sound now, so the last two years we’ve had nothing but vocals coming out.”
Whether dealing in vocals or in instrumentals, Distant had been a consistent supplier of quality house grooves since it’s very first release of Johnny Fiasco’s ‘E Z Tracks’ in 1996. Since then Distant has issued music from the likes of Kings Of Tomorrow’s Sandy Rivera, Johnny D & Nicky P, Dennis Ferrer, Harley & Muscle, Peter & Tyrone of 83 West, DJ Romain and of course Jon himself.
Jon’s own productions, either original tracks or remixes, have been bringing him critical acclaim from DJs and the global house music underground for years. He has been responsible for classic remixes on songs such as Prophets Of Sound “New Dawn”, Reel People/Nathan Haines “Spiritual”, Tortured Soul “When You Find Your Love Hold On” and the timeless treatment of Kim English’s “Treat Me Right” for Nervous.
Getting props from the underground is one thing. Having one of your productions played incessantly on dancefloors, radio and TV across the globe is another, but that’s just what happened to Jon when he turned in the classic ‘It’s Yours’ for NY’s Chez Music.
“I know Neil (from Chez), I did a remix for him a couple of years ago and he called and asked me to do a track with E Man.” explains Jon “It was just one of those things. All these years I’m putting things out on Distant and I go and do a quick track for Chez and it winds up being a hit.”
“I think that if it had been done for Distant, it wouldn’t have sounded like that. When Neil asked me to do it, I was kinda like “O.K. let me just get this over with”. I was thinking that I wasn’t gonna put too much into it, do a basic drum track, two chord progression, a spoken word vocal and a small hook. I just wanted to do it, hand it in and not make any changes to it. That proved to be the right formula for that record. If I’d done it myself I would have spent a lot more time on it, made it more complicated and it wouldn’t have had the same appeal.”
‘It’s Yours’ catapulted Jon Cutler’s profile into territory he had previously only dared dream of. His remix work and DJ work tripled after its release, he admitted. Thankfully he still had time to nuture his first priority, Distant.
“The next release is called ‘Alone’ which features Luna.” Jon told me “When I was in Australia I signed a track by an up and coming guy called DJ Jorj (Only You) that was a Brazillian/Latin kind of track. Blaze just did remixes of it for us and that’s due soon. There’s a track called ‘Vision’ that was produced by Darren Brandon outta Chicago, which will have mixes from me. DJ Spinna, Osunlade and Dennis Ferrer are all currently doing stuff for us as well. We get a lot of the good guys.”
Indeed he did, and this was proved on Jon’s mix cd from that period “Turn”. A compilation of Distant music releases and Jon Cutler productions coupled with tracks by the likes of DJ Gregory and Dennis Ferrer it showed Jon’s soulful house DJing style off perfectly.
Words and interview by Marc Rowlands