Jon Cutler: Puts "Class" In Classic

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Brooklyn has always loved to dance, whether it's disco, hip-hop, rock, or the sometimes-ignored streak of house in the borough. DJ and producer Jon Cutler belongs in the last camp, spinning smooth-yet-relentless deep house that calls to mind the soulful, funky disco that spanned the city in the '70s. While his 12", "It's Yours," is a bona fide house classic–still getting played three years on and even mashed up with Usher's "Yeah" by an anonymous white-label bandit–Cutler came to house almost by chance.

"I hung out in all the clubs, I knew all the guys there who kept pushing me towards the house side," he recalls. "I was doing some DJ stuff in the neighborhood and it went from there. I was playing everything back in the day–hip-hop, reggae, all that stuff. When I started doing the production in '96, I just started running towards house."

Cutler's love of house manifested itself in his Distant Music label, formed the same year he got behind the mixing desk. The label's been quiet in the past year as Cutler engaged in jet-set touring and released 12"s for labels like Nervous and Milk 'N 2 Sugars; no fear, Distant's now on its 30th release and back with a banging compilation called Planet. And the excitement of dropping his own tunes in his trademark diva-laced mixes has got Cutler back in the swing of production. "It's a love and hate thing with traveling," he confesses. "But the thing with DJing [is] when you run into a guy where you know his records, you just always seem to hit it off. There's a family community in it. Now I know the majority of the [international DJs and producers] around the world, and the ones I don't, when we play together it just takes like a half an hour before you're bonding."

When DJs congregate, the talk naturally turns to records old and new and Cutler flies the flag of the '70s, both in the mellow keys and soul vocals shot through his tunes and the dusty vinyl on his stereo. "I try to bring the most pumped stuff but still on a soulful vibe," he explains. "I still haven't gone past the point of just totally banging it out. I listen to all the '70s stuff: Barry White, Crown Heights Affair, Chic. I was always drawn toward them–[but now it's] for different purposes–for arrangements. Beat-wise, I'm always listening to the classics."