Archie Hamilton on his career, inspirations and running multiple labels

Archie Hamilton is a name that is becoming continuously synonymous with quality. After breaking through in 2015 with tracks like ‘Mind Blank’ and ‘Troublemaker’ on FUSE and Sukhumvit respectively, and residencies at some of the most talked about parties, including his long-running partnership with FUSE, have only solidified this position.

With releases on some of the genre’s biggest players, including Fasten Musique, Fear Of Flying and of course FUSE, Archie seamlessly straddles the lines between minimal and house. We spoke to him about influences, collaborations, and his own label pursuits.

Hi Archie, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. To start off with, I wanted to talk about your first experiences with music, is it something you’ve always been around? What sort of thing did you listen to when you were younger?

I’ve always been around music. My Mum was a raver when I was growing up, she used to go to clubs and festivals and she took me with her to some of them. Back then it was acid house and then moved towards progressive, and by the time I was old enough to understand it, it was trance. I was into Oasis and bands and then through watching films like Blade I got into that breakbeat sound and more electronic music like The Prodigy. I went to school in the countryside in Gloucestershire, and at the age of 17 my friend had a car, and we used to break out and drive down to Fabric and be back before school started. We used to go to the Friday drum and bass nights and that was my regular but when I went to a house event on the Saturday once, it changed everything.

You’ve been mega busy this summer, with gigs in Norway, Ibiza, UK, Croatia and the Dominican Republic in August alone, how has the schedule been for you? Are there any gigs that have stood out for you in particular and if so, why?

I love it. It’s amazing to be able to travel the world and see different scenes, different countries and meet some amazing people. I’m getting good at getting up early and getting all my work done by 10am and then having the whole day in the studio, so even if I only have two days I can normally get two tracks done in that time. I work better when there is time pressure and deadlines anyway. The gigs have been great, Sonus was amazing as always and the party in The Dominican Republic was one of my favourite yet – it was in a cave 400ft underground, with mad stalactites everywhere that were lit amazingly. The crowd was absolutely mental – not one I’ll forget in a hurry!

You played for Carl Cox this summer, which must have been massive. It could be said that his sound is a slight departure from your own; did you have to adapt your set slightly as a result?

I was in the second room with tINI and Eats, so I didn’t really, I just did my thing and it went really well. I was surprised because, as you say, Carl Cox’s sound in the main room is a sight departure from what we’re doing, so if I was in there I would have had to change my set slightly, but the Vista room was full of dedicated party people that were in there having it from the off. The way the team at Carl Cox throw a party feels like it includes everyone, so no matter who you are or what music you like, you’re guaranteed a good time. Also, what they did with the venue was very impressive. One of my favourite clubbing experiences

How has the Amnesia residency panned out? After the recent politics and changes on the island, do you feel a different vibe at the parties?

The Amnesia residency has been great. I love to play there; the atmosphere in the main room is unbelievable. In terms of the vibe, I would have to say I do feel a difference. 4/5 years ago I would send a text out to everyone asking who was going to Ibiza that summer, and 90% of people would reply saying they were. That seems to have diminished year on year, I think Ibiza has lost a bit of its underground appeal, sadly, but that doesn’t mean the parties aren’t still good, I just think the VIP culture and the prices have put people off in many cases. Plus there are a lot of other options out there now. In Croatia, for example, you can go to a festival and see twice as many of your favourite DJs over four or five days and it’s a third of the price. I think it feels different, my golden era was around 2007 but I bet you people who were my age then would have said it wasn’t as good as it was in ’97. Of course it will feel different from then, everything always changes.

Let’s move on to the music, that’s what has really pushed your name out. You have a very distinguishable sound, is that a conscious thing?

Not really, I don’t consciously make my music to sound different. I’m mainly self taught; I went to Point Blank to do an introduction course and then the rest I’ve taught myself. As a result I’ve learnt production techniques myself, which are present in a lot of my tracks, and maybe that gives me a distinguishable sound but it isn’t a conscious decision. Acid house was massive for me growing up, and I think the influences I have still play a big part in what makes my sound. As I said, the golden era in Ibiza for me was around 2007, and that rolling tech house from the early years coupled with my other influences have maybe merged together.

In terms of production, if you could pinpoint one technique or process you use that sets your music apart and takes it to the next level, what would that be?

Don’t try and go out and buy everything at once. Just get a few things and learn them inside out, and then once you’ve exhausted those things and got everything you could possibly get from them, then look at getting some more stuff. The mistake a lot of people make is people go out and buy a ton of stuff, can’t get the sound they’re looking for and then automatically think the answer is to go out and buy more gear, and then all of a sudden they’re surrounded by all this kit and it can be overwhelming when you don’t know where to reach.

Do you have any form of musical training? Do you think it is important for an artist to have experience and knowledge in areas such as composition?

It’s a good question, I learnt the drums when I was a kid and was always a drummer. I was in a band at school, and I was pretty good at drums, and I think that has helped me with my rhythm, both in a production and DJ’ing sense. In terms of musical training my cousin Benson, who’s on the new Moscow EP with me, is musically trained and is very musical. I remember when he first started music theory he said it fucks you up a little bit as you get given a set of rules that your brain thinks you need to abide to, but he finds it helpful now. Sometimes the most beautiful things in music occur because of happy accidents, when stuff detunes and goes out of key, although it shouldn’t be right it sounds great. That’s another tip; don’t be afraid to try anything, because that’s when you can get some of the most amazing results.

FUSE has obviously played a massive part in your career. They seem to have a real family vibe and you hear stories of artists releasing and being pushed by them having attended the FUSE parties for years first and building a rapport, was that the case with yourself?

Yeah, I was a regular. I used to stand in the corner and be weird on my own! I would go every week as I lived about 100 metres up the road. Then there came a point where I walked in and someone was playing a remix I’d done. I stood there with disbelief, it was an amazing moment for me as it was my favourite party and I’d been grafting so hard. I went up to the DJ booth and started pointing to myself wildly and then met Luke Miskelly who introduced me to everyone. We get to know each other over the next three to four years and then Tony called me and asked me if I wanted to play a party and that was it really.

You’ve mentioned previously you run Moscow and Moss Co. with your mate Aston, and you also have Arkityp with Rossko, how much involvement do you have with the label, are you very much hands on or do you have other people helping different aspects of the label such as promotion, press, distro & general label management?

I was running the label on my own at first while I still had another job, and would sit at work doing fuck all and running the label in the corner of the office so no one could see my screen. Then as the gigs started to increase and I quit my job I was really struggling to do everything. I had met Aston at Underground in Ibiza a couple of years previously through a friend and I remember thinking he had something about him. About a year later I really needed a hand and so my friend who had introduced us said ‘what about Aston?” and the rest is history. Aston was doing internships at various places so it really helped me and the label to have a man on the inside for things such as distribution. I’m still running the day to day and Aston does a lot of the A&R, socials and also handling the production processes such as sending things for mastering. He’s a great sounding board and isn’t afraid to be honest.

With already having the two labels Moscow and Moss Co, what were your thoughts behind wanting to start another imprint alongside Rossko?

Me and Ross had played together a few times, and each time it was spot on, and that’s such a rare thing to have such an innate connection, so we both thought the logical progression would be to get in the studio. We’d also run a party at Underground in Ibiza under the name Arkityp. We got in the studio and made three tracks in three days, which we were really happy with and we wondered whether to send them to labels and it just felt right to put them out ourselves as Arkityp continue that story. While we aren’t looking at putting any more parties on just yet, the aim is to run more Arkityp events eventually.

Are your intentions with the labels to solely release established artists work or are they also catered towards pushing new artists if the talent is there?

I’ve opened the door a little bit with Moss. Co and I’ve just signed some really amazing music from some relatively newer, underground artists. Moscow will mainly be focused as an outlet for myself and collaborations with friends, and Moss Co. will serve as a platform to showcase new talent.

Your recent collab with Enzo ‘Dubinnovation’ has done really well and is a great EP. I have it on good authority you also have a new collab with Enzo and Subb-an, what can you tell us about it?

I can’t confirm anything yet but that will be coming at the end of the year. Ash (Subb-an) came to Fuse and then stayed in London and we did about two or three days in the studio and there was a really nice connection. We did it in Enzo’s studio where he’s got some really nice bits of kit. Ash is a good friend and it’s always nice to extend the olive branch to other crews. I’ve always been fond of One Records and that gang, so it was great to be able to cross-pollinate a bit. I think where FUSE is now, it’s good to make music to suit where we are playing, be it bigger room or in more intimate venues.

How do you generally lay down on collabs? Do you have to get together and work on jams face-to-face or are you happy to back and forth on ideas and project files?

I don’t have a fixed rule really. With Rossko we always work in the studio, with Benson we have a telepathic connection anyway, so regardless of whether we’re in the studio together or not it feels like we are. People who live abroad it’s generally a Skype thing, sending parts back and forth and getting feedback from each other. I have such a headstrong way of working, so I’ve found that my favourite way of working is for them to start and me to finish.

You have an Australian tour coming up, are you looking forward to that? What are your experiences of playing there previously? There are also talks of you heading over to the US soon, anything you can confirm at this point? 

I love Australia. It’s a young scene but the guys there are crazy. Not only do they love to rave, they’re really switched on to the music. Of course it’s also a beautiful country and I’m very lucky to be going over at the beginning of summer, so there’ll be lots of sun and good food! In terms of the US, I’ve just got my Visa approved which has taken three years, so there are things in the pipeline which I’ll be revealing soon.

What other plans do you have for the next couple of months? Any other new pieces of music you can tell us about?

I’ve just had the new Moscow Records record out with my cousin, and then I have a remix coming out imminently for Cosmjn on Abartik. After that I think I will have a solo EP on Moscow and then looking further ahead the Subb-an and Enzo collab. Me and Rossko are working on new Arkityp material for a follow up record next year.

Thanks a lot Archie!

Archie’s Wild Things EP will be out in November via his Moscow Records imprint.