Mid Ayr’s Hugh Middleton Spills The Beans On His Latest Project

By Ben Preece April 19, 2016

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Good afternoon, Hugh I assume? How are you doing post-release of your debut EP? Must be good to finally have something out?

Yes it is! We’re stoked. These things usually take a lot longer than expected so we’re over the moon it finally got there in the end.

Congratulations for all the airplay of ‘Letting You In’. Your tunes strike me as fairly autobiographical, would that be a fair assumption? Were you having some trouble with a potential partner when writing this one?

Yeah I’d say I would fit under the autobiographical for sure. Because I’ve always used song writing as more of a therapeutic process for getting stuff out of my head or off my chest, fiction isn’t really my forte. I sometimes forget how literal the lyrics come off sounding and how easily the listener can tune in to my inner skeletons. Probably should be a little more careful about that… In this case, as much as I would like to deny it ‘Letting You In’ is a bit of the old classic ‘break up song’ if I had to sum it up simply. Essentially its cutting ties with someone you love and going through the motions of dread, heart break, loneliness etc. only to let them back into your life with open arms regardless of the inevitable torment that awaits.

Otherwise, the EP features song titles like ‘Halloween’, ‘Vampires’ and ‘Evil Is’. Are you ok?

Haha! Yeah wow… I totally see how it can be perceived like that. To be honest each one of these songs were written at very different stages so I had no intention of making the song titles sound morbid. Having said that I guess I’ve always had a guilty fascination for ghosts and super natural stuff so maybe some of that translated across? That and I’m definitely NOT okay. Ha.

I believe you’re largely self-sufficient with the self-production (impressive, indeed) and engineered by Alex L’Estrange – what sort of challenges did you face undertaking such a process?

Well because this project started with just me initially I wanted to get something out that wouldn’t necessarily require the production standards and gear to pull off recording that of a full band. So I did a bit of an acoustic track called ‘My Mayhem’ from the ramshackle of my bedroom studio. It was really from that track that I got on board with extending it to a collection of songs with a band. It’s always a challenge finding your feet at the start and meeting like-minded people who share the same enthusiasm to jump on board. I was lucky to have met Alex because he really introduced a level of production and sonic intelligence that suddenly created opportunity to really shoot for some ideas that would have before been overly ambitious or irretrievable. Because we did track a lot of the material on the EP at various different studios and locations it was quite challenging when it came to mixing to try and maintain the same standards both sonically and with the mood from track to track.

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iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/mid-ayr-ep/id1097553659
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3LtRUdVczGPoxvSFWdKsK3

You recently came from The Trouble With Templeton, was it remotely terrifying suddenly fronting your own project?

Yeah I was a little terrified for sure. To come from that band that gave me such a good insight into the life of a hard working band and knowing what is involved was a little daunting. Obviously there is always doubt about whether I have the ability to fit that position as ‘the front man’. But I guess I’ve been writing songs for a while now, since before Templeton, so it felt quite natural for me to fall into this since it is always what I’ve wanted to do.

And bass player Alex L’Estrange is emerging as an artist in his own right, getting great ratings from Kingsmill and the like, he’s not clearing off any time soon I hope?

Nah he’s shit, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Ha… jokes. Yeah he really is an incredible songwriter in his own right so I can’t wait to see what comes of Alex. Only just scratching the surface now. You bloody wait! I think when he starts getting some shows on we’ll be trading places and I’ll be plugging away on bass which I’m super excited for. But no news as to clearing off as of yet!

And you signed to Amplifire Music, the management firm behind The Jungle Giants and Last Dinosaurs – what do you hope these legendary cats bring to the project?

Yeah what a team right?! So chuffed that we are working with these guys. The absolute DREAM team. Just a couple of genuine, passionate legends who want to help us get these tunes into the world. What more could you ask for? Really inspiring to see the growth of The Jungle Giants and Last Dinosaurs too. Rather than us sort of living week-by-week, gig-to-gig and trying to prioritise ourselves around all the outer workings of the music life, Stu and the team really provide a backbone to all of that. They have a very clear and focused vision and its super motivational just to be in their presence. Top dudes.

Any last words, aspirations, ambitions? Failing that, tell us a joke…

Ahhh nothing really is coming to mind so I might take this as an opportunity to lay down one of my favourite recipes – chicken, pancetta and red wine ragu.

Enjoy!

  • 5.5-litre slow cooker

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1kg chicken thigh fillets, trimmed, halved
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
100g sliced pancetta, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup tomato paste
500g dried fettuccine
1/2 cup pecorino, grated
300g green beans, steamed
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

Step 1:  Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, in batches, for 4 to 5 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to slow cooker.

Step 2:  Add onion, celery, carrot and pancetta to pan. Cook, stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are just starting to soften. Add garlic. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add wine. Bring to the boil. Boil for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to slow cooker. Add stock, rosemary and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cover. Cook on high for 3 hours (or low for 6 hours).

Step 3:  Using 2 forks, shred chicken in slow cooker. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove and discard rosemary sprigs.

Step 4:  Meanwhile, cook pasta following packet directions. Add pasta to chicken. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with pecorino and serve with beans and parsley.