Mark Archer - who is appearing at the Karma Lounge, Inverness, on Saturday - is a British rave-techno producer, DJ and one half of legendary 90s duo Altern8 which formed in 1990. They dressed in chemical warfare suits, work masks and danced “like electrified monkeys”. They took part in underground raves and their biggest tracks included Activ8, Evapor8, Frequency, Brutal8-E, Armageddon, Move My Body, Hypnotic St8 and Infiltrate 202. Mark has been producing and DJing for many years since. He’s back in the Highlands this weekend and below he answers some of Margaret Chrystall’s questions.
What are your favourite memories of your early days with Altern8?
The live gigs more than anything, just looking out at all those people dancing to the music we’d made. There’s no bigger buzz really, although DJing comes very close.
When people realise that you are from Altern8, what do they tend to remember and ask you about?
It’s quite odd as a lot of people don’t know what to say, so they don’t bother – which can get to you a bit if you let it. But I think the one thing most people say is “Evapor 8!”, usually shouted as I’m walking away from a club with my records.
How has what you do with music changed since the start of your career (if it has!)?
I still make music in a similar way, just with newer equipment these days. And as for DJing, I DJ with CDs as well as records whereas no-one DJed with anything other than records back then. If I play an oldskool set though, it’s 100 per cent records and they are the ones I bought over 20 years ago.
What do you like about playing music for people?
I play music that I like. And it’s nice to know the person who makes the tunes because you can always let them know how it’s gone down and you get an added satisfaction that you’re helping to break a tune.
If you could appear on the bill at any event in the world or venue, where would it be and what makes it special to you?
Probably the Movement Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) as Detroit’s the birthplace of techno and somewhere I’d love to go again, We played in Detroit in 1990 and 1993 and they were two very special gigs just for where they were and the people who were there.
What are your plans for 2013?
I’ve got tracks coming out on four different labels so far and working on tracks for another label, so I’m building on the production side of things as well as signing to a new agency who will hopefully step up the DJing. So it’s looking like a busy year. But for the first time since 1999 – I’m taking a holiday!
If you could whisper in the ear of your 18-year-old self, what would you want him to know, knowing what you know now?
I’d tell myself not to share what I do so easily and let so many people take advantage of my good nature. There’s a fair few people I’ve worked with who I would not even talk to if I knew how things would turn out.
Are you an embracer of new technology or do you hanker after “old skool” ways?
Both really. I like the new things that you couldn’t do production-wise back then. But feel that when I’m DJing oldskool, it should be done the way it was – just using records and decks. It’s not format snobbery, as I believe it’s what comes out of the speakers that counts. It’s more of a performance thing, It’s how it was done back then and people like to see oldskool being played using records.
What piece of music or track has got you most excited recently and why?
A track by P’taah called Your Soul On Mine (Spencer Parker’s A Gun For Hire Mix). Love the piano on it. There should be more piano in house music again.
What should people bring with them when they come to see you on Saturday?
An open mind. I won’t be playing much oldskool although it may be expected. Some techno, some acid and some house will be the order of the day.
Mark Archer appears at the Karma Lounge, Inverness, on Saturday.