Written by: Joseph Koh (Photo by: midst)
Interview with midst
When I first took a listen to midst’s debut EP, I was left wanting more. The moody atmospherics had beckoned me to a voyage deep in the ocean bed, yet everything was over before I knew it. It was a dive into warm waters, as each song felt like a slow burn, fanned by the smouldering embers of Rachel’s voice.
Having drawn comparisons to the likes of Brian Eno and London Grammar, we had the privilege of discovering the vision for the ambient electronic-trio’s sound, and learning how creation is constantly calling out to them.
How did midst come about?
Jeremy: Kin and I started jamming in 2014, when we found out we had identical interests in certain fields of music. Our jam sessions were a mix of jazz, Daft Punk, and post-rock — with just keys and an electric guitar. Somehow we’ve evolved to where we are today. In 2015, Rachel joined us and the introduction of vocals just changed the entire dynamics of how we made music at that time…and here we are today.
Share with us the history of your band’s name.
Rachel: We were looking for words that sounded nice and had a deeper meaning for each of us. “midst” happened to be the word that popped up, and it was affirmed in Zephaniah 3:17. We’re always going to be in a state of flux, change, or growth, so we thought it’d be perfect for our band name.
What made you guys decide to take your music further in making an EP?
Jeremy: It was always our goal from the beginning to create something that reflected our personal journeys as Christians and musicians; this EP is a pretty good representation of the thoughts and feelings we’ve had over the last couple of years, together with how our musical style and taste have evolved from different inspirations.
Has it been tough pursuing music in Singapore?
Kin: Honestly, it has. As Singaporeans, we have so many other obligations to fulfil and expectations to meet. And locally, there isn’t really a strong electronic/ambient scene, so this venture was a little risky as we’d be somewhat exploring new waters. But since the release, people have been so supportive and we couldn’t have asked for a more encouraging response from the local music community.
It appears that a wave of Singaporeans today possess greater creative confidence in their craft, whether in music or the arts. Would you agree?
Jeremy: Yeah, there’s always been a cultural machine churning away in countries like the US and the UK, and now there are more ways than ever to stay in tune and be influenced by everything that is going on. We’re connecting with culture more than ever before, and it’s influencing us to carry it on in our personal expressions of creativity.
What keeps you going — in needing to juggle between music and your career/national service?
Jeremy: For the time being, most weekends have been spent with friends and family, and music has taken the backseat at this stage for both Kin and myself. We do try to have a jam session here and there but until we commission in September, it will be rather hard to make much progress music-wise.
What is the inspiration behind such dreamy, atmospheric soundscapes?
Kin: We’re hugely inspired by the vast beauty of creation, and any short films or movies that we’ve watched that have conveyed that feeling of awe and emotion. When you’re a true-blue city boy living in a place like Singapore, you appreciate — and almost long for — the wild, the scenery, and the great wide open a lot more. Perhaps this is why we always attempt to recreate that feeling of spaciousness.
Tell us more about the elusively titled track, Ç.
Kin: It’s a little random and probably very pretentious, but the symbol ‘ç’ is a phonetic alphabet that implies that there is a sound created from pushing an air flow through a channel of articulation, without vibration of the vocal cords; it sort of expresses a “shhh” sound, sounding a bit like an ocean wave. The song is related to the ocean — it is about the dive into the great unknown, and re-emerging with a new perspective.
You guys shared in a Facebook post that “the work of God…had brought us together to explore and express creation.” How has your faith permeated into your music?
Rachel: For starters, the way midst was formed was definitely not by chance. We are all currently attending the same church! Secondly, I would describe our (future) music as being miniature reflections of what we see in God’s handiwork and His creativity. God is the original creator of all things good and artistic, so midst’s sound seeks to emulate that glory that we see around us.
I was riveted bythe lyric “You’re all I see/ This everglow inside of me” from the track, Wake Up, O Sleeper. Could you share with me the heart behind the song?
Rachel: When we were crafting the lyrics for this song, we wanted to convey to the listener that there is something greater than ourselves out there — a sense of awakening to the realisation that there is something that’s greater than ourselves out there that offers all-transcendent peace even in times of struggle. Wake Up, O sleeper is a song that is very close to my heart (for Jeremy and Kin as well) as it represents the breakthrough that I had in my walk with God: that groundbreaking epiphany and complete contentedness in Him.
What is your greatest hope/goal as a musician?
Kin: To move people — to evoke emotions in them that are inherent to all of us as human beings, yet each of them having a different memory or visualisation attached to that emotion.
What has been the best moment since releasing your EP?
Kin: I think there hasn’t been one greatest moment, but the thing we all enjoy most has been reading the genuine, heartfelt messages that people send to us, telling us that our music helped them through their day, or that they can truly feel whatever we’re trying to convey. That, to us, is just the purest form of communion through this amazing, God-given medium called music, and it means so much more than anything else music can give.