Words: Theodore Hondros
Upon the release of his debut EP, ‘A Jewel Within A Teardrop’ we interview Perth based artist and musician Mike Midnight. Specialising in left-field grime and electronic sounds, Mike Midnight has dwelled within the Australian and UK music scenes for most of his mature life, garnering prowess within multiple artistic mediums all the while becoming affiliated with names such as Novelist and Circadian Rhythms. The long awaited EP, releasing October 14, is filled with rap tropes, strings and fragmented RnB acapellas that gesture at the artist’s own musical lineage. We discuss the upcoming project, past experiences and how his sound is shaped by the perceptual unfolding of life around him.
How did you feel growing up in Perth and how did your perspective on the music scene change after living abroad?
I grew up in a beach side suburb called Scarborough. In 2013, I moved to London for a period of two years, since moving back in 2015 I’ve been comfortably settled here in Perth.
Obviously no one develops skills in a vacuum, however in all honesty, I never felt much of a cultural influence from the environment here in Perth until much later in life. In 2013, I moved to London to pursue my interest in club culture and music. Whilst over there, I was fortunate enough to get acquainted with a talented group of young artists in East London. It was a time of rapid experimentation in UK music and I found myself regularly attending pirate radio sets with MCs and going out to club nights such as FWD and Boxed. These environments were hugely influential on the attitudes and values I developed toward and around music. It left me with an abiding interest in the possibility of creating music that represented a multiplicity of styles and identities. Prior to 2015, things were separated in Perth. There was no crossover between house, techno, jungle and R&B events. What was happening in London totally challenged that.
Your new project ‘A Jewel Within A Teardrop’ employs traditional grime and trap motifs gracefully enhanced through a crystalline overlay. What were some of the feelings or ideas that went into making the EP?
A Jewel Within a Teardrop is a collection of new and old music that is deeply personal. The narrative is based around the pain of separating from our past and the joy of reunion with new beginnings in the present. This is represented on a number of different levels, most notably through the arrangement of fragmented RnB acapellas from years gone by. I don’t ever give myself genre limitations so having a conceptual framework really helped me develop some sort of identity to hold the whole thing together.
What influenced the sonic direction of this project?
I guess I listen to and take inspiration from anything I find curious. I often don’t get inspired by dance music to make dance music, but I might be inspired by reading something or certain music from pop culture. Over the years I have found that drawing inspiration from completely different things to the medium I am operating in to be the most effective. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of my friends music; Lovefear, Sus1er, In Tongues, Lia T and a healthy amount of UK drill music, amapiano, UK funky, drum and bass and various rap music.
My music is always a reflection of the social, cultural and economic conditions surrounding us. The world is always in flux, therefore, there is always something to respond to. I think I will always be driven to respond to these shifts.
How has the internet impacted your art?
It’s interesting. The exquisite corpse feed experience of the online world constantly presents me with a mosaic of influences, drawn from diverse sources. You can see the effects of this reflected in the hybridity of my own art/music and also throughout today’s emerging music. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, however I do believe if you’re going to do something artistically, you need to bring your own experiences into it. If most of your experiences are online, it can be hard to work out what has meaning to you and and what does not. In answer to your question, the internet has undoubtedly influenced my work in ways that I am still trying to make sense of.
Catch the launch of Mike Midnight’s debut EP this Friday October 15 at the Rechabite Basement, Perth. Presented by Pneumatic & Contact Online, performances will include Lovefear, Sus1er, Rok Riley and Lia T, as well as Mike Midnight himself. Pre save the EP here.