INTERVIEW! ARKLEY TALKS ABOUT HIS MUSIC
Please tell our readers a little bit about your background.
I’m a Scottish DJ and producer influenced by 90s rave, big beat and electro acts like Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and The Prodigy. I released my debut single ‘Music (Over & Over)’ last August on Tileyard Music (home to Joel Corry and Sigala) and I’ve just released my second one called ‘Rave ’92 (Everybody Dancing)’.
What is your favorite piece of hardware gear to work with and why?
Pretty much my only hardware is a Focusrite ISA One pre-amp and Neumann u87 mic. It’s a quality set up for vocal recording. I also have an awesome Roland Juno 60, but it’s a bit knackered now and sadly collecting dust in the corner of the studio!
Is there a specific VST plugin that radically changed your workflow?
I like to keep my productions sounding spontaneous and a bit raw, so I don’t get bogged down in heavy plugin usage. Having said that, I use the FabFilter EQ and multi-band compressor a lot, especially to get layers of drum loops all working together.
Do you have a specific process when it comes to creating tracks? For instance, do you start with a beat or with a melody?
I tend to start with a vocal or synth sample to get a vibe going. I then spend a long time working on the rhythm section. I love to layer up drum loops and then get a really strong bass line to carry the track. After that, it’s all about keeping the track interesting with vocal and instrumental hooks and breaks. I have decks in the studio, so I jump back and forth from Ableton to the decks to make sure the tracks work well in a DJ mix too.
How do you approach space in production as it relates to delays and reverbs?
Generally, my use of reverb is pretty light-touch – Valhalla Room is my go-to. Varying amounts applied across the mix to give everything its own space and create a bit of life and air in the tracks. I generally use delays together with the Kickstart side chain FX to create rhythmic / pumping textures.
Which aspect of music production do you feel you excel at?
I think probably overall music arrangement and having a good ear for hooks. Although my Arkley music is dance-focused, I grew up playing in guitar bands, so I’ve got a good feel for melody and organic musical dynamics.
Your best advice to get that kick drum pounding?
You’ve got to start with a great kick sound and then give it plenty of space in the mix. I spend a lot of time EQing the low end of my mixes to achieve maximum clarity. I also use a lot of parallel compression on my drums with the Waves DBX-160 compressor. Liberal use of Kickstart also helps!
Out of all the productions you have made, what would be your personal favorite?
It’s pretty much always the newest one I’m working on! ‘Rave ’92’ is still sounding very fresh to me though, so I’ll go for that.
What is the best advice you have for other producers in the game?
Take time to find your own sound and trust your ears – you don’t always need to process everything to hell and run loads of channels.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
One of my secret weapons is the PSP Vintage Warmer 2 – it’s awesome for adding saturation and life to elements in your mix.
Thanks again for doing this interview.
You’re very welcome – thanks for asking me!