ELECTRIC DREAMS: Distal and Embassy Records kingpin Michael Rathbun

Courtesy Embassy Records

ELECTRIC DREAMS: Distal and Embassy Records kingpin Michael Rathbun

Distal's top 5 Atlanta DJs and producers 

Embassy Recordings founder Michael Rathbun calls out his most beloved local acts

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Distal, aka Michael Rathbun, is one of the more auspicious up-and-comers in the global electronic music scene. He's mastered a dizzying array of electronic musical inflections that can't be tied to any one genre, tempo, or region. From his home in Little Five Points, Rathbun runs Embassy Recordings, a largely digital label that issues 12-inches of off-kilter and genre-skewing tracks by the likes of Broodlings, Wheez-IE, and Moldy, underscoring a distinct and experimental place within the EDM landscape. In 2012, British electronic music label Tectonic issued Distal's debut full-length, Civilization. Here, Rathbun calls out his top five hometown producers and DJs.

Helix: "This guy wears flip-flops and socks, Atlanta Braves shirts, and yellow-tinted sunglasses everywhere. His musical work is quite the opposite: focused, and with a lot of thought put into it. It's a nod to the history of dance music, using the same palettes and sounds in different ways. He has disheveled a lot of what we used to love about dance music while putting Atlanta on the map overseas, where serious club music is concerned."

Broodlings: "I used to see Danny Fernandez at drum 'n' bass shows nearly 10 years ago. I believe he was only 13-14 years old then. They [Fernandez and Bretson Mann] started sending us juke and some footwork demos that were fantastic. The music had a soul to it, which most juke and footwork lacked at the time. They're doing a lot of good stuff in slower tempo dance music since becoming vinyl junkies."

REKchampa: "REKchampa is slowly turning into one of Atlanta's best groove aficionados: simple ideas done right. He's new to it all, too, which makes it even better, and the best is yet to come. He's diverse, not just making straight-up house grooves, but killer drum 'n' bass grooves as well."

Richard Devine: "Since '95, Richard has released albums on Warp and Sublight records, and he programs sound banks for Native Instruments for fun. He's an Atlanta pioneer who, for years, has been experimenting with what a lot of people haven't even discovered yet. Whereas a lot of the guys are sculpting sounds and arrangements, Richard sculpts the tools with which you do it."

Mike Zarin: "I've known this guy since high school. While we were skimming hardcore and drum 'n' bass records, he was decades deep in the house crates. He has been on all ends of the spectrum: promoter, producer, DJ, and former music director at 88.5 (WRAS-FM). He paved the way for what's going on in Atlanta's house scene now."

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