Kevin Armstrong is the guitarist you may never have heard of, but have most certainly heard. He has had a stellar career since the early 1980s as sidekick for David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Morrissey, Sinéad O’Connor, Prefab Sprout, Thomas Dolby and host of others. He has played with a huge range of stars from Roy Orbison to Brian Eno.
I am a super experienced guitarist who has worked with David Bowie and Iggy Pop Morrissey and hundreds of others. I have produced albums for Keziah Jones, Alien Sex Fiend. I have co-written songs with Bowie, Morrissey, Thomas Dolby, Sia, Shara Nelson (Massive Attack) I have a well equipped home studio with an HDX Protools rig, Logic skills too. I make everything from rock to funk to acoustic songs. My speciality is drums and guitar based music but not out and out pop. More on the spectrum of alternative rock but I have also made commercial soundtracks and TV tracks for many shows requiring forensic recreations of classic tracks. I have a very wide experience in the studio of programming, arrangement, production, mixing etc and I can handle backing vocals too. I'm excellent at vocal comping and guitar sounds etc and I'm a decent mixer too.
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4 Reviews - 1 Repeat ClientEndorse Kevin Armstrong
Kevin is a sonic champ. I had a feeling from his past works that he would understand what i was trying to achieve with the song. He totally understood my direction and very quickly he improved the track in so many ways. He just gets music. I could not have got the song to where it is today without Kevin, no way. I am super keen to colab with KA again. Such a pleasure to work with and so much fun moving through the audio process together.
Wonderful experience once again. It’s so easy working with Kevin!
Absolute pleasure working with Kevin. He quickly understood the requirements and results were provided quickly. Tracks have come to life! Highly recommend.
Kevin hit this out of the park. A great collection of tones and very well mic'd and recorded. A true pro and highly recommended!
Interview with Kevin Armstrong
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I recently self produced an album called RUN and I'm very pleased with ow it turned out. https://kevinarmstrong1.bandcamp.com/album/run I also produced and played some music for a global Bowie tribute show with Mike Garson https://vimeo.com/500468830
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: A second solo album of original songs and a series of vocal recordings on a number of Italian projects for Srah Jane Morris
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I'm new here but my good friend Greg Heath is a great Logic guy and a brilliant sax and flute player.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital recording is hugely improved from it's earliest days but it's really good to have some analog elements in your studio. Analog mic-preamps and valve compressors just sound expensive and vocals and guitars sound absolutely great if you use these things bits of old hardware carefully.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That I will improve what I get from you and if I don't you can have your money back
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The freedom to express yourself creatively and the flexibility of the work. Literally every job is a different set of challenges and there is always something to be learned.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That it's easy and that it's cheap. Experience and accuracy in judgement are worth something and they will make a real difference to the quality of what you do. You can make something on your phone these days but it takes real skill to turn that into a professional product.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Have you got any money? Seriously though I try and get them to describe what they need with as little posy crap as possible. I'm not tying to impress you and you don't need ti try and impress me so let's talk about the work and try and make something good.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Just ask questions and communicate honestly. I won't bite and I will do my best to understand what you need.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A Fender Telecaster. An acoustic guitar. A bass guitar and 4 track digital recorder with a microphone
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I was playing covers gigs for money from the age of 14 and left home at 16 years old to join a professional band. I've never done anything else for a living and my career as a solo artist stalled in about 1984 since when I have been something of a guitarist to the stars and a producer too. I have been a pro for 47 years and still travel the globe with Iggy Pop as his live bandleader
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'm from a classic rock background. I learned to play by listening to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, T.Rex, Bowie, Free, The Faces and American bands like Little Feat and Steely Dan. As well as a lot of Reggae and Funk. You can hear bits of all that in my playing. From blues to hard rock and even some jazz influence.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I've had a few dream jobs in my time. I worked closely with David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Thomas Dolby. Paul MacCartney. I always thought I would have been a very good foil for Amy Winehouse. In my dreams I would have loved to play with The Rolling Stones (even though I did make a record with Mick Jagger once) I just don't have the right haircut!
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Listen! Don't be afraid to throw something away if it's not right. Trust your ears and your feelings That's three sorry.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I usually work on guitar centred music so stuff that could be played by a band. Guitars and drums are my thing but I'm also pretty ok with electronic elements too. I like rock stuff, Alternative indie and some funky things too. Singer Songwriter styles are great because you can frame the work in lots of creative ways.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: It's my overall understanding of how to get inside a piece of music and add something great to it or even pull together something that's unfinished or half-realised and make it great. As a long time bandleader, I understand how sounds and parts really work together and I can identify the flaws that need correcting pretty quickly and accurately. I can also work quickly! I'm also a pretty useful singer with very good harmony
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I'm very conscious not to over-egg stuff or give the client a load of confusing choices so I try and find something that really suits the song and is true to the piece. I want them to drop the guitar into their session and immediately be happy with the result. I bring my own unique guitar touch and tone as does any guitar player but I do have 50 years of experience playing alongside some truly great artists and I want the client to hear that in anything I do without it trying too hard or straying from the artist's intention in the song.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: It depends on the work. With guitar sessions, I will sit with the track and play guitar before even thinking of recording anything until I familiarise myself with the piece and start to play something that sounds good to me. Only then do I record and then maybe a couple of overdubs. I try to only give a client something that really adds to the track and not just any old thing that comes into my head. When I deliver files they will already be edited, maybe only EQ corrected slightly and should fit straight into the master session without any work needed apart from what a mix engineer decides to add.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a custom built outbuilding in my home which is designed primarily as a solo project room. It has a lot of guitar stuff in there and is based around a Mac Tower with a Protools HDX rig and I a Logic setup too. I use Neve cloned mic-amps and high end german mics and I have outboard hardware valve compressors and I make sure that the signal path to my recordings is as pure and expensive as possible. I have a huge range of software drum instruments and libraries because on solo instrumental productions these are important. I also have a number of pet drummers with very good home studios on call if I need them.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I've worked with a few of the greats. Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley who were huge in the 80s UK pop scene and Russell Elevado who engineered and mixed D'Angelo's albums. My earliest studio experiences came working with Thomas Dolby who is a true production innovator. I learned a lot about how to listen critically to recordings from him. I've also worked alongside Brian Eno and admire his eclectic approach to production.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Usually guitar sessions which often involve me coming up with the parts too. I also do entire instrumental productions and mixes and quite a bit of vocal recording and comping. Singers really enjoy my work as I'm very good at making great comps from 5 or 6 takes and turning a good vocal into a great one.