Brisbane two-piece Mid Ayr can craft a cinematic tune. Their second EP Elm Way, due out this Friday, touches on the universal themes of love, loss and the pressures of social acceptance, articulated through the prism of gritty production, erratic drums, scratched-up guitar bends and grainy synths.
You see, Hugh Middleton (guitar/vocals) and Zac Moynihan (drums) have a flair for the dramatic, honed over the years by paying close attention to music that has appeared on screen.
From synth-washed ’80s love songs in Donnie Darko to the brooding Nick Cave epics in The Proposition, music in film has played a huge part in inspiring Mid Ayr’s own artistry.
In the lead up to the release of their new EP, we asked Mid Ayr’s Hugh Middleton to share with us his top five picks for the best use of music in film.
For me, the soundtrack and the plot of this movie go hand in hand. The story wouldn’t have been nearly as effective without the soundtrack. This film was responsible for my love of ’80s music, Tears for Fears play a huge role of the inspiration behind both EPs, particularly ‘Love Sick Child’ on the second. Just shooting for that grainy, sparkly synth and shimmery guitar fuelled ’80s love song that they were renowned for. It also was responsible for introducing me to The Church and Echo and the Bunnymen, bands that had have had a huge impact on me overall as a musician.
Tears for Fears – ‘Head Over Heels’ (Donnie Darko)
Good Will Hunting
I am a huge, huge, huge fan of Elliot Smith and I think it shows in both the Mid Ayr EPs. Elliot Smith’s music was kind of like punk rock disguising itself as Paul Simon. Lyrics of pain, frustration and angst, executed in gentle, intricate guitar work and tentative, honest vocals provided the perfect accompaniment for an absolute classic film.
Elliott Smith – Angeles (Good Will Hunting)
Dark, morbid and graphic visuals accompanied by a brooding Nick Cave, such an effective combo. This film really jump-started my love for Nick Cave and any projects he’s been in. The first time I saw this I remember feeling both a little disturbed and inspired all at once. Similar to listening to Kid A or Antony and the Johnsons for the first time – that terrifying but beautiful dichotomy I think really shows itself in the first EP.
Nick Cave, Warren Ellis – Gun Thing (The Proposition)
There Will Be Blood
Johnnie Greenwood has really mastered the art of creating tension with textures and polyrhythms. I just love how this soundtrack uses tension and release with clashing dissonance and sickening sub bass lines that rattle you to your core. This film also introduced me to the power of quarter tones with bowed strings and a lot of eastern tuned percussion. I think Johnnie Greenwood even used his quarter-tone piano to reach that anxious pensive tinkering in parts.
Jonny Greenwood – Open Spaces (There Will Be Blood)
Quentin Tarantino seems to treat his choice of soundtracks with the same importance as the plot to his masterpieces. Every one of his films has a significant bond between the soundtrack and the story, both in terms of mood and the characters. I remember when I saw Pulp Fiction for the first time being blown away from the moment those first big bold yellow capitals hit the screen. Kill Bill was another favourite – after I saw it I was left with a new catalogue of J-Pop blaring around my brain for weeks. His films are responsible for igniting my love for slide guitars and old school rockabilly pop once again.
Pulp Fiction – Dance Scene
Mid Ayr will set out on their first headline east coast tour in April / May. ‘Elm Way’ is out this Friday 21st April.
Mid Ayr Tour Dates
Tickets on sale now
Friday, 28th April
Brighton Up Bar, Sydney NSW
Tickets: Brighton Up Bar
Friday, 5th May
The Grace Darling, Melbourne VIC
Saturday, 6th May
The Foundry, Brisbane QLD