"Everyone has music in them. I was searching for a way to express that, so seeing all the tools you could use as a non-musician to make make music, I could be the drummer, the bass player, the keyboard player… It excited the life out of me!" Dogmatik Records boss Alex Arnout talks about analogue sound and production.
What does the word ‘analogue’ mean to you?
To me it means warmth and depth, I know I’m going to hear a full sound when listening to analogue instruments or pieces of music on vinyl.
How important is that concept to you and your music?
It’s what my ear searches out for. I get a fuller, rounder sound out of my studio, and that’s how I like it to sound.
You’ve spoken before about how you first experienced electronic music production in the 80s through a friend using a computer and sampler – the peak of digital technology at the time! Can you tell us a bit about what first excited you about seeing music made like that?
Everyone has music in them. I was searching for a way to express that, so seeing all the tools you could use as a non=musician to make music, I could be the drummer, the bass player, the keyboard player… It excited the life out of me!
Why did it take you until the late 90s to start producing your own music?
I was more focused on playing records [as a DJ] at the time. I didn’t have much production knowledge, but I wanted to learn my art. I always knew making music would come later, but I wanted to approach it from what I could learn from the clubs rather than just be an engineer. At the end of the 90s I was convinced I could make better records then I was playing, so the progression was a natural one for me.
Over the years you must have seen various fads come and go in terms of music technology. Can you tell us a bit about your own journey with music production tools?
Yeah, my approach changes all the time. It’s a natural evolution when you work in a studio every day. Technology has made things easier for sure, in more ways than one; either bringing old gear back to life or pushing levels of production with the digital side of things. I like to have a mix of the old and the new. Take what you have and mess it up a bit – that kind of vibe.
Are there any specific pieces of equipment where you insist on analogue rather than digital?
Personally I like the sound of analogue drum machines. I feel I get a solid sound out of them, which is important for a great bottom end. I tend to use analogue synths, but I mess with them digitally after. My whole studio runs through my desk first before things get recorded down, so I have my fat sound already. I use digital software to see how far I can take that sound or how I can mess it up.
Is there a specific piece of studio equipment that you dream of acquiring?
You know, I’m more into functionality. I need to play with things first and see whether I can incorporate them in with what I have already. I know of great synths and drum machines, but I haven’t used them all. Saying that, I would love to have a LinnDrum. There’s no playtime needed there!
words: Greg Scarth
dj / music producer
Alex Arnout is a celebrated UK based DJ/Producer with over 20 years experience within the music industry. He runs his own record label Dogmatik Records dedicated to quality electronic music where his maverick approach and refusal to follow trends or fashion has ensured that Dogmatik remains a revered underground house label.