Archie Hamilton on why you need to be prepared to slog your ass off if you want to make it as a DJ
What did you want to be when you were 15? At 15, I knew I wanted to be a DJ, and have never wanted to do anything else. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t do other jobs. Quite the opposite. I have done all manner of work just so I could do this one thing.
if you want to make it work, you have to do your time. I worked in bars at the time when the tobacco smell still clung to the walls and EDM wasn’t a thing. It helped me get me through university but I never loved it. Once I graduated, I got some internships in the music business whilst doing a course at Point Blank. I felt like I was the waiter at a wedding. I was there but wasn’t having the fun and I didn’t have time to create and make music.
That flexiblity came in the form of a rusty red Ford Luton. A Gumtree removal van. I covered New Malden, Purley and Peckham and it was the most physically demanding job I have ever done. Carrying fridges up high rises. Playing Tetris with three piece suites. The van’s roof was full of holes so when it rained, we didn’t have little drips, we got wet. There were laughs, of course there were but the best thing about it is that I could take days off. Days off to produce. Those cold winters were almost unbearable but, in a slightly masochistic way, the harder the work, the more I enjoyed it because I had a goal and I knew one day I would look back and laugh.
Two years in the van and I cracked. Knackered, broke and bored of not being able to afford the things my friends could, I swapped the freezing van with broken windows to a ‘boiler room’ with no windows. It felt a little like admitting defeat. Cold calling is hard and pretty soul destroying. People would inherit false names at the firm I worked at because of the high turnover of staff who either walked from the job or were shoved. It was challenging remembering which name I was, or which accent I was supposed to be using but it kept you on your toes. Maybe this is what reminded me to be myself and I turned even harder toward my goal. I would stay up till 3 in the morning playing around with Logic and then be in at 8. I was tired, but I was making music.
Somehow I blagged my way into an American corporate firm and my salary increased by about 50%. The company was great and so were the people. Things got a little too comfortable. Until I started to release more tracks and get booked internationally, weekends were packed and I was knackered again.
Monday mornings were bleak. In order to look like I was taking initiative, I would always volunteer to do a presentation on Excel in the first meeting of the week, usually making as little sense as if I was presenting it at an after party the weekend before. The enthusiasm with which I managed to say my piece would give me just enough leeway to plug in my headphones, stare blankly at a screen and dribble for the rest of the week. It couldn’t last. A senior manager realised I had done virtually nothing for six months and I was summoned to his office. It was the job or the music. Frankly, I had made that decision when I was 15 years old, I was just waiting for the right time to jump so I moved out of London and in with my mother. Again.
I was totally broke for the two or three years that followed but slowly I began to see that the commitment I’d made to music paying off. I started playing regularly for FUSE, went to Ibiza for the season in 2014 and began to grow my labels. I wrote Mind Blank, Troublemaker and Controlled Movements, and the gigs started to increase. Three years on and I work harder than I have every worked in my life, but now I love every single minute of it.
Archie Hamilton plays FUSE at Hyte, Amnesia on August 16th, September 6th and 27th. Follow Archie Hamilton on Facebook here