Ivor Novello award winner Iain Archer chooses Liquid Mix
“At the age of 13 I picked up a guitar and started writing songs about anything and everything,” remembers Iain Archer about what was certainly a life-changing moment. Since then, he’s recorded four solo albums, played support to legends like John Martyn and Nils Lofgren, collaborated with The Amazing Pilots and Jacob Golden, joined Snow Patrol “for a year and a half during which time we wrote material for their breakthrough album Final Straw” and consequently won an Ivor Novello award. Like we said: life changing…
But as important as that guitar certainly was in the grand scheme of things, there’s one other piece of studio gear that Iain now can’t do without: his Focusrite Liquid Mix.
“When I discovered what Liquid Mix could do I realised it could really transform how I work and increase the results I was getting,” says Iain. “I rely heavily on plug-ins and have learnt just how crucial it is to have options. To have great sounding EQ and compression that barely taxes the system makes for a very free approach to mixing as you go – which is how I always work really.”
“It doesn’t take long to sap all available processing power with standard plug-ins. It used to be that I would have an idea in the middle of a session, but I would have to go through a convoluted procedure of printing audio and chucking plug-ins away to free up enough poke to carry it out. Now it’s instantaneous which means the idea doesn’t get lost.”
“My approach to recording is all about experimentation. I don’t always approach a recording with a definitive concept – I’ll record an instrument or a vocal, then I’ll push it and pull it sonically, to see if there something extra I can pull out of it. To have so many options within one unit is fantastic. The simplicity of the vintage EQs is wonderful to work with.”
“This is the only product I know that gives you the ability to simultaneously run compression and EQ on every track without demanding copious amount of memory. Add to that the superior sounds and there’s no question.”
“I used the Liquid Mix on a track I self-produced recently for a Nick Drake tribute album which is to be released in the States featuring John Martyn, Richard Thompson, Beck, Jason Lyttle from Grandaddy to name a few. I was going for that woody, boxy, picked acoustic very akin to those original Nick Drake recordings. Using a combination of the Old Tube 3 EQ and the Class A1, I was able to achieve a real warmth to the sound without it getting too soupy (as picked acoustics can sometimes). The guitar was surrounded by other odd instrumentation like handclaps, autoharp and bass but sat beautifully as a result of these features.”
Iain recently worked on The Freelance Hellraiser album Waiting for Clearance, which also features Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and Jan Hammer among others. His new solo album, Magnetic North, which he co-produced with David Kosten is out in October.
“I’ll be playing live and promoting the album. I have a couple of bits of production and co-writing work to come later in the year too. I’m working with Grammy Award winning songwriter Victoria Horn on her own solo material. And check out www.myspace.com/iainarcher to hear what I’m talking about.”
Iain’s top recording tips
“Like I say I am very playful in the studio. I don’t have any formal recording training and as a result my approach is generally fairly unorthodox. I have had the opportunity of working with and learning from some fantastic producers like David Kosten, Steve Osbourne, Guy Massey and Dave Lynch. But I am always looking for ‘feel’ over purity. I work alone a great deal and I just push things in an effort to spark some creative excitement in myself – when a recording starts to take shape and sound original and interesting I know I’m onto something. I don’t really care about rules or rudiments. And I’m always learning.”