INTERVIEW: Diztortion talks production, chart success and more

He may be widely known for his production work with Lethal Bizzle but Dutch-born producer Diztortion has created many hits for well known artists that you’ve undoubtedly raved to on dancefloors across the country. With his latest stunning effort ‘I’ll Be There’ set to be released shortly, we sat down with the hitmaker to find out how his life has changed since gaining widespread recognition for his work and found out more about a potential Diztortion album…

Back in 2015 you won the ‘Best Producer’ award at the first ever Rated Awards and since then you’ve continued to put out amazing music – what’s your secret?

Diztortion: I didn’t think I was gonna win that so it was a beautiful moment. I’m trying to keep it going too but it’s hard out here cos there are a lot of great producers, DJs and songwriters and everyone is amazing. I was talking to someone the other day and he said he wants to go to L.A because in London there are more artists than supporters and they’re all amazing, but there’s a truth in that. If I go to an open mic event, whoever picks up the mic always destroys it.

Having come to London from The Netherlands a few years ago, how did you find the differences in the cultural sound?

Diztortion: I remember the first time I came to London and my manager took me to see a G Frsh show. I’d never heard of him at the time and I’ll never forget the first beat that came on because I just thought “who made that?”. When I moved here from the Netherlands, the producers weren’t amazing and there was only one or two doing really well in the urban/Hip Hop scene. I used to go to a lot of open mic events there too but the music wasn’t really for me. But after the G Frsh show I just had to get in the studio and improve myself to get to that level.

What would you say is the moment where you thought “I’m heading in the right direction with my music”?

Diztortion: It was when I had my first chart record with Stylo G ‘Soundbwoy’. It was such a random session because I was only in my studio part time as I’d just started out and couldn’t afford to be in there full time. One evening Stylo came down and the plan was for me to play him something and then he’ll play me something and we’ll just see if we like each others styles. But once I played him the beat he said “this is dope” and I think after an hour we had the song. It charted at number 18 and was on the Radio 1 A list and that’s when I really thought “what’s going on?”. It wasn’t really a charting song in my opinion but that’s when I realised that I could make a living out of this here in the UK.

After that initial chart success, how did your day to day life change in terms of getting more studio time and working with different artists etc?

Diztortion: Well the people I was renting the studio from moved on and so I had to find another one which ended up being my first full time studio in Shoreditch. If you’re in the studio all day every day doing nothing else but making music, you develop so quickly and I saw myself develop like crazy. I’d already done a session with Lethal Bizzle at my old studio and at the new place I started to get some crazy sessions. I remember one time Little Mix were coming down and I was worried that they wouldn’t all fit in as it was only small so I had to borrow another studio!

How did you make the initial connection with artists that you wanted to work with or did they reach out to you?

Diztortion: My manager always told me not to reach out to people for sessions in the place I was at at that time because I didn’t want it to come across like I was begging people, so we decided that when people valued my style they’d come to me. I always wanted to work with Tinie Tempah and I always wanted my manager to hook us up but he told me to wait and build my brand, so i listened to him and one day Tinie called me and said he’d heard an interview I’d done with MistaJam, didn’t realise I’d made all these songs he liked and he wanted to get in the studio. So it turns out my manager was right! But you have to start from the bottom, be patient and believe in yourself. It doesn’t just happen overnight and it takes a lot of hard work. Your social life disappears and your finances go down as well until you get that record that blows up, so you have to have love and passion for what you do.

Aside from producing tracks from some of the UK’s most popular artists you’re also releasing your own tracks and ‘I’ll Be There’ is your latest piece of brilliance. We think it’s probably your best release so far…

Diztortion: Thank you so much. When we decided to go with the record I knew that people would know me for making songs like ‘Fester Skank’ and more Grimey records and now I’m making a switch to Drum & Bass, but I love this record as well. I want people to hear this because it feels different. When my dad says he likes one of my tracks then it must be pretty special because my dad doesn’t like any of my records! When he heard ‘Fester Skank’ he liked that and that ended up being a hit so hopefully this is something special too. I don’t think many people expected this sound from me, even though I’ve already worked with Sigma and also made the Lethal Bizzle & Shakka track ‘Playground’ which was a bit Drum & Bassy, but I just love the record.

As a producer, how do you ensure you keep your sound fresh when working with different artists?

Diztortion: Whenever I work with artists I just try and give them a sound. I never try and do the same thing over and over again. When I work with Lethal we have one sound but if I work with someone like Yungen or Krept & Konan it’s a whole different sound. Timbaland did it so well because he would make an Aaliyah album and then a Ginuwine album but make them sound miles away from each other and then he’d do a Missy Elliott album and it would be so different again, so that’s what I’m always trying to achieve.

Producers are coming into the spotlight more and more and in many cases are now seen as performing artists in their own right. How do you think the role of the producer has changed over the years?

Diztortion: I always believe that producers are at least 50% of any record. In many cases the artists aren’t even that involved in creating the record, especially in the case of pop artists. They just sing the song that they’re given and try and personalise as much as they can, but then who’s the real artist? They’re just the face, but what happens if you make the producer the face? You get a whole new sound because they’re given the freedom to move. It’s the same with DJ’s as well because if I go and see a Drake show he’ll probably have a few guests and it’ll be great, but if I see a Major Lazer show anyone can jump on stage with a mic and you never know who you might see. It’s amazing to have artists doing their shows but it’s a different experience with producers and DJs. A huge example is with Justin Bieber. He put out an amazing album and it was a huge comeback, but how did he come back with such an amazing sound?  It was a Diplo and Skrillex sound and whilst Justin Bieber did a good job singing on them, those songs were amazing even without him on there so it always comes back to the producer.

Is there a full length Diztortion project on the horizon any time soon?

Diztortion: Yeah 100%. I’m signed to Polydor so I’ve got to get to that album to fulfil that deal, but I’m taking my time. When the album drops I want everyone to look at me and watch what’s happening. I don’t wanna drop something and no one is paying attention so I’m building the momentum and putting out songs so people can get familiar with the sounds. But to be honest when I go to the studio I’ve already got about five albums worth of records ready but you know how labels work, you just have to be patient and the timing needs to be perfect. It is definitely coming though.

We’ve heard that you’ve got tracks on the way with the likes of Tinie Tempah and Katy B, will they be dropping in the near future?

Diztortion: Yeah I’ve got so many songs with different artists it’s crazy. When you sign with a label it just takes a minute for the songs to come out, for example when I made ‘Fester Skank’ it took a year for that to actually come out. So sometimes it takes a bit longer for a record to come out because they have to plan the campaigns properly and I guess that’s just the industry. If we were doing it for a hobby I’d just put them all out online and I’d love for everyone to just hear them but you have to play the waiting game.

Make sure you’re following Diztortion on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with all his latest news direct from the man himself.

Matt Tarr

Matt Tarr

Matt Tarr

Urban Music Editor
With grime and hip hop being major influences on him growing up in South East London, Matt's passion is urban music but over the years he has gathered a hugely diverse taste, ranging from Wiley to The Smiths by way of Machine Head, that has made him a very open minded individual.
Matt Tarr