Producing a string of top-notch remixes – reworking the likes of Washed Out, Boards of Canada and Sei A – and dropping two brilliant EPs on Phonica and AUS, Midland is the London based DJ from Leeds, causing quite a stir.
With his eclectic mix of house, 2-step and dub, blending warm, atmospheric repeats with punchy stabs of bass, Midland’s tracks cut across a number of different genres to produce music that vibrates with strong, soulful melody. Recently signed to Coda Agency – who also manage the likes of Jamie XX, Ben UFO, Zero 7 and Sbtrkt – Midland is currently putting the finishing touches to his latest EP which should be out early next year on AUS. i-D online caught up with him to find out more about old school Drum & Bass, late night grooves to Fleetwood Mac and future projects with Breach and Youth Imperial’s Robbie Redway.
How were you introduced to house? Was it a gradual progression as you were growing up, or was there one key moment, one night out, or one particular house party that made you think, I need to hear more of this? It was a pretty gradual process really. Through my teens I came across certain songs I suppose you’d call house, but back then I didn’t really know or wasn’t so bothered by “genres” which was a great place to be in, just general electronic music. My eldest brother Dom has shown me so much amazing music all through my life as has all my family (all 6 of them including Mum and Dad) and it’s something as a family we take a lot of joy from. Later in my teens I got really in to Drum and Bass and then found house/techno/dubstep/electronica on my descent.
Your music slides brilliantly between elements of 2-step, dub and house, do you think you’ll stick with a warmer house element? I don’t really ever sit down with the intention to write a “house tune” or a specific type of song. I just make sounds and combine them with other sounds until I find a combination that flows. As a result my workflow and results can be very random, I certainly don’t think “right that stab is techno, that vocal is garage, and that bass is house”, it just happens. I do, and will continue to try different stuff. I want to write more songs, proper electronic songs and would love to work on producing more for other people/bands/films. I have only been doing stuff as Midland for two and a half years so am still very much finding my feet but I think as a musician/ producer you should always be looking to try to challenge yourself and experiment. I fully intend to!
Where do you go for inspiration? Certainly not the Internet! Inspiration is a funny thing, it can come from anywhere really, a book, a phrase, the way the light is outside, a photo, hearing a certain song in a certain mood, being away from music for a long time or just being around good people. Trying to actively find inspiration often has the opposite effect and so it’s best to act on it when it randomly strikes.
Best place you’ve played? Best place I have ever played, tough one, but I would have to say the Easter Sunday party at Mono Cult in Leeds. I had about 25 mates there most of whom hadn’t seen each other for ages, added to a crowd of about 300 people completely having it. It’s not often you can play dreams by Fleetwood Mac and watch the entire crowd singing it with you. In general it has been amazing to travel within and outside England and I’m so grateful for people bringing me to their countries, feeding me amazing food and letting me play my music.
What now? What’s next? I’m putting the finishing touches to quite a substantial EP for Aus, which should be out around Feb. Other than that I want to focus more on original stuff as I seemed to spend a lot of time doing remixes this year, which are all good but tend to become a bit draining. Me and Breach have been working on some stuff so hopefully that will pop up over the year. I have also started collaborating with Robbie Redway, the lead singer of the excellent Youth Imperial, it’s super early doors but it’s already sounding amazing, and very different to my other stuff so we will see!
Text: Thomas Curry