Archie Hamilton is a master of his craft. A driving force in polished tech and bubbling minimal house, he has releases on labels such as Fuse and his own imprint, MicroHertz. His DJ sets are a sight to behold, with his explosive 90s-infused, highly considered and knowledgeable selections and white labels at the likes of Sunwaves festival in Croatia and Ibiza now infamous.
His most recent solo release, Let The Light In, on Defected Records is a perfect EP for classic house lovers. Featuring vocals from HQA, it’s house music at its finest – swinging drums, a booming bassline, smooth keys, playful horns and even a cheeky backspin for good measure.
We speak to Archie about how he made the track and how he uses his studio.
Hey Archie, your tune ‘Let The Light In’ sounds like an instant classic. How did you inject a sense of fun character into this track?
I wanted to make a classic-sounding record that would work in my DJ sets where I tend to be quite playful with regard to backspins and vocals and wanted to combine that old-school aesthetic with a live sense. The session we had in the studio all came so naturally; it was all very much a one-take thing, so having that translate in the record was key.
Tell us a bit about the studio.
My studio is based in Hackney, London. Me and an old friend of mine, Damian (AKA Deego Fresh), who I actually used to make music with back in the day under the alias Innominati, met up 18 months ago and Damian was without a studio. I was looking for a new space so it seemed like the perfect fit to find somewhere together.
Damien has a lot of history as a DJ and label owner himself so we bounce off each other nicely. It’s a great space, we’re really proud of it.
How do you use your studio?
As much as it is our space it also is an open space for artists to come and work. Damian operates as an engineer so we often have artists coming in to work on their music. Even if it’s just to run stuff through the desk to give it more of an analogue feel or replace MIDI parts with proper hardware. We also have a DJ room, so if you want to come and record mixes or brush up on your skills, you can do that too.
For me personally, I tend to start ideas on the road and then bring them to the studio to finish. We also have the capability of being able to record live instruments and have a mic room too. So it’s really a bit of a one-stop shop for everything.
What is your favourite piece of gear and why?
Right now I’m loving this new Vocoder from Roland – the E4. It’s a great piece of hardware for manipulating and playing around with vocals and a really fun way to start a session.
How did the idea for the Garage Dub of the track come about?
Well, actually I wrote the basics of this track on a flight from Australia with a pair of Bose in-ear headphones, so the foundations of the track are pretty humble!
The idea actually came from a glitch in Logic Pro when I was arranging the original and it was making the vocals, sung by HQA, echo and repeat in a sort of choppy garage style which was a bit of a eureka moment. I got cracking on the flight home and laid down main elements for the record and then when I was back in London I ran it through the desk and I guess that’s where the dust in the drums came from.
What’s been the biggest investment in your studio?
Time and emotion, to be honest. Don’t let that put you off though. There’s been a lot of ups and downs but we’re so proud of the end result.
If you were left on a desert island, what one item would you take with you to make music with forever?
I’d take a field recorder with me. I’m sure the wilderness would provide some interesting sounds that you’d struggle to find anywhere else.
What is your top piece of production advice?
If you can’t make an idea work within about 15 minutes then scrap it.
I would also say as a rule, don’t spend too much time working on stuff. Music should be a snapshot of the moment you’re making it in. If you spend too long tweaking things, you lose that.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
As a general piece of advice, be prepared for long nights and giving your blood, sweat and tears to it.
But in terms of the actual studio, I’d suggest not over-treating the room because you can kill the energy in there if you do.
Are you based in the UK? You can book Archie’s studio. To book the studio just email email@example.com
Buy Archie Hamilton’s track, Let The Light In, via Beatport. Check out his DJ sets and other tracks via his Soundcloud.