Midland
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Midland

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Over the past few years, the biggest thing in techno has undoubtedly been its confluence with dubstep. Real dubstep, that is, not Skrillex and co’s faux variety. Since 2010, Harry “Midland” Agius has been neatly positioned at this lively junction, putting out genre-crossing tracks for Will Saul’s Aus Music and winning praise from around the globe. He also roomed with David Kennedy, the man behind Pearson Sound and Ramadanman. At just 25 years of age, it’s easy to see why so many people are excited about the future of the Leeds-based artist.  

So, I guess the main thing people talk about when it comes to you is how well you mix tropes from different genres. Is this something you try to do consciously?

Not at all. I listen to a lot of different music and so I suppose it follows that these different sounds and influences permeate into my music making. When I’m not DJing, I don’t really tend to listen to a lot of house or techno, so that could go some way to explaining why my music supposedly sounds so schizophrenic.

You actually grew up somewhere in Africa, right? How was that?

It was very good, thanks. I grew up in Tanzania. I didn’t wear shoes for the first 10 years of my life, I swam in the ocean pretty much every day and grew up a safe distance from all the cultural clutter of the western world.

And then you came back to England in your teens for boarding school. Did living with other guys 24/7 have a big effect on your taste in music?

To be fair, at school I was always the “music guy”. When I started listening to drum and bass and other stuff, I used to be the guy who people came to, to find out about it. That’s not to say I knew anything about it at all, and many of my peers thought I was just into it to be cool. There’s not a better time in your life than when you’re 15 and everything seems so new and exciting.

And what about Leeds itself?

I went to Leeds on a whim, to study history, and discovered an excellent music scene. My involvement in it meant that my degree took second place after a while, but I still managed to finish it. I have no idea how it influenced me specifically, but in terms of the city, having nights like DMZ, which pioneered dubstep in the North, and Back To Basics, which is the longest running house night in the world, certainly spoiled me.

You also sang in the choir when you were at school, right? How was that?

It taught me discipline, and that anything worth doing, is worth doing properly. The choir teacher was a real perfectionist and I used to have to practice four plus times a week. At times I resented it, but there were times when you would sing these amazing pieces of music where it would just click and would all make sense. 

Have you always been musically inclined?

Music has always been a big part of my life from growing up surrounded by it at home to finding out about it as a teen. At school I dabbled with the drums, piano and flute but never seriously; singing was always the one that took precedence.

At one stage you were working nights in a club to pay the bills. How is your situation now?

I’ve now been doing music full-time for a year and a half, and I’m very lucky that I have regular gigs and can pay my bills from it. It always surprises me that people want me to come and play them music; it seems to be a recurring theme amongst music people. But it is always really amazing to be able to travel and play music for a living. 

Touring is probably a fairly boring concept to some of the real veteran guys. How is it from your perspective?

From Africa, I travelled back to England at least three times a year and my sister lives in America, so I have travelled pretty extensively. In terms of now, I just see it as part of my job, like getting the tube to work in the morning or driving to an office job. At times I am exhausted and want nothing more than to get home but I get to play music for a living, so I think any complaining is massively out of order.

Do you ever think about where you might be in twenty or thirty years with your music?

I’m not sure where I see myself in twenty years; I don’t think it’s healthy to look that far ahead. But I would like to be working on more substantial projects like film scores or producing for bands. DJing is great, but not something I would want to be doing as regularly as I am now, for the rest of my life.

What have you got in the pipeline?

I have a 12-inch with Pariah coming out on his and Blawan’s label, Works The Long Nights. There are a couple of remixes emerging over the coming months for artists like Flume, Dusky and Guy Gerber. After that, I intend to focus solely on new material.

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Midland [UK] performs a three hour set at New Guernica on Friday April 20.

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