Image & Video by Jan-Willem Dikkers
“One of our main focuses is creating full-bodied,
melodic songs that you can really sing.”
— HANNAH JOY
Based in Sydney, Australia, Middle Kids is the project of lead singer Hannah Joy, guitarist Tim Fitz and drummer Harry Day. The trio released the singles “Edge of Town” and “Your Love” in 2016, followed by their self-titled EP in February 2017. Before forming Middle Kids, both Fitz and Joy had released music under self-titled solo projects. Middle Kids are currently touring internationally and working on their forthcoming debut album.
Sydney’s Middle Kids released their first single, “Edge of Town” in May 2016 and immediately garnered international traction with extensive radio play and fans the likes of Elton John. Lead singer Hannah Joy and guitarist Tim Fitz formed the band almost accidentally when the two began collaborating and ended up merging their respective solo projects. Later joined by drummer Harry Day, the trio has since signed to Domino and recently released their self-titled EP to the same wide acclaim. Middle Kids’ layered sound centers around Joy’s deep, belting voice, bolstered by Day’s driving rhythms and Fitz’s slide guitar, and skillfully emerges both joyful and melancholic. With a recent performance on Conan O’Brien and their SXSW debut to come, Joy talks with us about the origins of Middle Kids EP and the band plays “Your Love” exclusively for Issue.
Where are you from?
When did you start making music?
When I was three, I figured out how to play Pachelbel’s Canon on the piano after my dad played it, so pretty quickly they enrolled me in piano lessons.
“When I was three, I figured out how
to play Pachelbel’s Canon on the piano.”
— Hannah Joy
Who did you listen to growing up and who is your music influenced by today?
My dad and older brother fed me a lot of music: classical but also bands and artists like Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Radiohead, Sigur Ros and the National. I still listen to a lot of the same stuff, but am particularly influenced by some of the big voices like Neil Finn and Janis Joplin.
How would you describe your musical genre/style?
I think the Middle Kids sound sits somewhere loosely in the indie rock and pop world. One of our main focuses is creating full-bodied, melodic songs that you can really sing.
How and when did you decide that this is what you were going to do?
I’m not sure if there was ever a conscious decision, but I have always been making music, not necessarily as “the thing.” It moved to the forefront a few years ago when I realized how exciting and potentially powerful songs can be.
What’s your story of getting started as a musician?
I started on the piano, then started writing songs when I was really young. I started writing slightly better songs when I was a teenager, did a Bachelors of Music in Composition and Production, and then started honing in more on singing/songwriting.
How does it feel to have finished your first EP? What was the process like?
It feels great and strange, like I’ve grown a new limb. The process was very cool and natural. Tim and I came together a couple of years ago, and he produced “Fire in Your Eyes.” We ditched our solo projects and started working together (not knowing we were making an EP, just making songs at the time). The songs slowly formed and we realised, kind of in retrospect, that we had made a cool EP!
“It feels great and strange,
like I’ve grown a new limb.”
— Hannah Joy
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
A classical composer and arranger, Nico Muhly has worked and recorded with a range of classical, pop and rock musicians. Since 2001, Muhly’s work has spanned various fields, from orchestral and choral performances to film scores, and he is currently a member of the Icelandic music collective and label Bedroom Community
It would be pretty special to collaborate with Nico Muhly. He orchestrates in a really exciting way and has worked with indie rock musicians before.
What are you working on now?
We have been making demos for the album. There’s been a lot of creative energy flowing since the release of the EP, so it feels good to be looking to making the next thing. I’m also slowly working on a symphony, which I hope to be finished by the time I’m 60.
What’s your favorite book, film, and music right now?
I’m reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini in the van, and it is just so good. An old favorite movie of mine is Good Will Hunting, and I am really loving Andy Shauf’s album, The Party.
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
I love to garden, however that passion is literally wilting in light of being on tour a lot of the time. I am obsessed with the ocean and getting in it. And I feel very passionate about chicken burgers (I think Americans call them chicken sandwiches).
What’s next for you?
We are touring a lot this year, and intending to come to the USA often—this is a special place musically. And yes, releasing the album this year!
USA Tour videos by Middle Kids