Rising Star: Clash Meets Archie Hamilton
Growing up in rural, South Wales, the DJ booths of Pacha and DC10 seemed a distant dream for Archie Hamilton. However, last year those ambitions came to the fore, a stellar year saw him play across Europe, the White Isle, North America and beyond.
The success of his debut album 'Archive Ficton', played a huge part in this - fluently mixed in its design - by creating something unique, his talent not only a producer but as a DJ shone through.
Now, on the verge of the third and final leg of his album tour - which sees him play throughout the US, Canada and Mexico - we catch up with the rising star, to see what 2020 will bring.
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A teenage obsession with the Prodigy was the catalyst that sent Archie down the dance music wormhole. A journey through trance, breakbeat and drum and bass filled him with a desire to learn more.
“I remember going to the record shops and asking the guys, what else was out there like this? It was a time when British electronica groups, such as the Propellerheads and Apollo 440 were popular. I was just obsessed with the music and read Mixmag religiously every month, just so I could find out as much as I could about the scene.”
Living in the countryside, Archie was far away from the nightclubs where this scene was thriving. Instead, the infamous raves of the 90s was his calling, including the notorious Castlemorton common rave - the largest illegal rave in British history. Archie eventually stepped foot in Fabric when he was 18.
He recalls: “I went on a Saturday night, it was a totally mind-blowing experience, after that moment it was all about house and techno for me. It was a really intimidating experience, having never been to a proper nightclub, but hearing that music, at that volume, definitely changed me.”
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After graduating from Oxford Brookes university, Archie attended Point Blank Music School, where he studied intro courses for Ableton and Logic. This obsession about exploring dance music, had come full circle - now he was about to start his journey to becoming a notorious producer. “I learnt the basics on that course, afterwards I taught myself through YouTube and watching people in the studio.”
In 2009, Archie and his friend Alex Harris started their own music label, entitled Moscow Records. Built out of frustration, at a lack of replies they were receiving from music labels, they decided to go it alone. “No one would touch us, not surprisingly as we were unknown at the time. It's crazy to think we're now in our tenth year, we're bringing out a compilation to celebrate. Ten of my favourite tracks from the back catalogue.”
Although, the label didn't start without its problems. Originally named “Temper” records, they soon realized it was too similar to the “Tempa” label synonymous with the Dubstep era. “We had just got 300 test pressings printed when we realized. It was crazy that we didn't realize sooner. Around the time we had the records pressed, Alex's grandad passed away, we used the money left to press the records. He was Russian, so Moscow records grew out of a homage to him.”
Fast forward ten years and I catch Archie during a studio session - using the January off season to get his head down and plan for the year to come. “It's become important for me to take less gigs in January. When the summer comes around, its not just the weekend I'm playing, its weekdays too. You're in a constant tired state, so it's harder to make quality music then.”
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Having spent most of the month in the studio, Archie manages to complete a handful of records, which will take the pressure off both himself and the label in the months to come. Last year, saw Archie take the monumental step of producing an album. A rare feat for an electronic artist, who usually go down the route of EP's - perhaps with the ambition of consistent publicity, or the risk of the product being too monotonous.
However, for Archie, it was his calling. Archive Fiction was released in June, to critical acclaim. “I'd been pondering the idea of an album for a while. When I started working with my manager, Matt, he spurred me on to do it. It took seven months to finish. It wasn't easy, but being known as a producer, it would have been remiss of me not to put out at least one solid body of work in my career. Most of the year was then spent touring the album, it's been crazy.”
A sea of bookings followed - taking the artist to every corner of the world. Close relationships with Circoloco and Music On, blossomed during a Summer that saw Archie take Ibiza by storm. “Playing Circoloco at DC10, was such an incredible experience - I had been going to that club for so many years, to play in that booth was surreal. The Music On booking came out of nowhere, it went well - weirdly, Marco Carola was the first big DJ that I heard play one of my tracks; and he's been a big supporter of my music.
Archie was Marco's special guest at Music On's recent London show, he's also been booked to play the Amsterdam festival too - clearly the Italian see's something in his talents. 2020 has begun in the same manner, kicking off at the legendary Circoloco New Year's Day party, and the airing of BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix was a monumental moment in the artists career. Something Archie had been waiting for most of his life.
“That mix was a pretty anxiety ridden experience, you want to be able to listen back to it forever and be proud. Being recognized as more of a producer, I wanted to show what I can do as a DJ. Using classic tracks that inspired my youth, to new fresh material that also has a dated quality. I viewed it as the aim was in the title - a mix that was essential to career as a producer and as a DJ.”
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Now set to embark on the third, and final stage of his album tour - which takes him across North America, Canada and Mexico, I asked Archie if there was any added pressure headlining such a tour. “I don't feel pressure about it. I've spent so long as a support act, I now feel like I have the body of work behind me to feel comfortable headlining. It's a great feeling to have, after all those years of blood and sweat you put in.”
It looks set be another huge year for Archie, with a wave of festival bookings, a ten-year compilation of Moscow Records and an inspiration package that sees the artist remix three classic UK tech house tracks - that ear marked his youth - set for release in mid-March.
Now steadily rising to becoming a household name in dance music, the world really is his oyster at this point. As I left the artists East London Studio, a host of creatives were smoking outside, murmurs of “is that Archie Hamilton” followed, 2020 might well be the year many more say the same words.
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Words: Jake Wright
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