Iain Archer: Making Career-Defining Moments with Pro Tools | HD
Hailing from Northern Ireland, songwriter, producer and artist Iain Archer has seen great successes both in front of the microphone and behind the scenes in the studio. With a passion and longstanding dedication to his craft, Avid Pro Tools is a key tool within all areas of his work, winning him multiple industry awards and accolades.
After the release of his first two albums to critical acclaim in the mid-90’s, he released Flood the Tanks in 2004, and followed up with Magnetic North in 2006, co-produced with David Kosten (Bat for Lashes, Everything Everything). His most recent album, To the Pine Roots, was released in 2009.
“After the release of a couple of my solo records, I started to use my time and knowledge of Pro Tools to collaborate with other artists and bands within my realm of music. At this point I started playing and writing with Snow Patrol.”
Archer saw chart success with Snow Patrol’s hit Run, which reached UK No. 1 in 2008, and is an Ivor Novello Award winner for his work on their breakthrough multi-platinum album Final Straw. In 2013, he was nominated for another Ivor Novello Award for his work with British indie breakout star, Jake Bugg, and his song, Two Fingers. He also produced and mixed Bugg’s popular singles Lightning Bolt and Taste It, among others, from his debut and the subsequent self-titled No. 1 album.
More recently, Archer has seen massive success collaborating with BRIT Award winning singer/songwriter James Bay. “James and I co-wrote his hit singles Hold Back The River, Craving and Best Fake Smile and I also produced a radio version of Hold Back The River that was used for airplay outside the UK. I also had the privilege of winning a second Ivor Novello Award and a Grammy Nomination this year for my part in the multi-platinum single, Hold Back The River.”
Today, Archer spends the majority of his time working with other artists as a songwriter and producer. Using Pro Tools to collaborate, he creates everything from scratch from writing the song, to recording, arranging and mixing to develop and shape new material.
“I self-produced my third album in 2004 and started to use Pro Tools more and more extensively. It really opened my eyes to more of the production side of what I do. I’ve always liked that I can use Pro Tools very simply without having to navigate around too much, and that’s down to good inherent design by Avid.”
Thinking about how he continues to utilise the industry’s leading DAW to bring both his own sound, and that of other musicians to life, Archer said: “I’ve been using Pro Tools for almost fifteen years now. I have HDX running on a Magma Express Box to an Avid Pro Tools | HD I/O 16×16 interface and a 192.”
“I’m always working on the move, so I love that I can plug my laptop into the whole rig and record, but still edit and shape things when I’m travelling. I’ll often be doing substantial comping, so being able to view and select audio from the playlists changed my workflow entirely. Elastic audio is also massively beneficial.”
Archer went on to explain the dramatic change in the technology that has shaped his career path over the past decade: “I’m not sure I’d be producing records if I hadn’t had access to music editing software. That was the turning point for me, where I could shape and mould audio without having to always verbalise something to an engineer or producer.”
“I love the fact that access to music software means people from the grass roots up get under the hood of what it is to record and mix. That’s when you start to really appreciate how challenging it is to make good records. It’s also an opportunity to innovate outside of the pressures of a recording budget and that freedom alone is significant – then all you need to have is the imagination and the ideas.”
After huge successes with both multi-platinum selling artists like James Bay, Jake Bugg and Snow Patrol, Archer discuss the innovative and time-saving benefits of Pro Tools that help simplify his workflow: “Collaboration is pretty much what I do. It’s integral. I’ll write a song with an artist, produce it, work closely with an A&R and management team on a practical and creative level, involve a great mix engineer and then see it through the mastering stage with a mastering engineer. All of this is highly collaborative.”
Archer’s story began with a guitar and a spark to make music he loved. Pro Tools is the yielding tool that continues to help him create, innovate and collaborate. “We all depend on one another’s skills to make it work. But the collaboration with the artist is the apex of the whole thing, and it’s about helping them see their vision through, and connect with their audience in a really genuine way.”
“I love the breakthrough eureka moments where synergy takes over – where all the disparate pieces and ideas come together to make something much greater than the sum of the parts. But I also love standing in the crowd at a gig and watching everyone sing a song that means something to each one of them, and knowing that you’re suddenly connected to everyone because you’ve helped create it.”
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