A conversation with Anthony Middleton: His creative journey through music and beyond

A conversation with Anthony Middleton: His creative journey through music and beyond

Anthony Middleton, one-half of the well-known music duo Audiofly, has been involved in the music industry since a young age. With a classical background, his love for music began when he composed his first song at the age of 8. Since then, he has continued to captivate audiences with his musical talent and unwavering dedication.

Photo credit: Anthony Middleton – Instagram

In the mid-90s, Middleton honed his production skills and became deeply involved in the dance music scene in London. However, he had to step back due to a genetic illness. During his recovery, Anthony spent several years practicing Tibetan Bön, meditating, and refining his music production skills under the guidance of renowned producer/musician Merv de Peyer. He thought his career in house music was over until he met Luca Saporito in 2002, and Audiofly was born.

While the majority of the past 22 years have been focused on the Audiofly project and its related ventures (Flying Circus, Supernature & Maison D’etre), Anthony has also released various solo projects and remixes under his own name.

EG had the privilege of speaking with Anthony Middleton ahead of his performance at Art With Me Miami on December 9th, 2023, to discuss and get a glimpse of the exciting projects that lie ahead. Grab your tickets here.

EG: Hello Anthony, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. Where are you right now?

Anthony Middleton: Hiya I’m here at home in Ibiza, chilling, making and listening to music. The season is finished and I’m repaired (laughter) but here comes Halloween, and so going through the music collection and trying to find some gems. At the same time, I often find inspiration from that to feed back into the productions … the north of the island is chill at all times of the year. So all smiles.

EG: You’ve had an incredible journey in the music industry, from your years with Audiofly to your solo venture. What inspired this new chapter in your career?

Anthony Middleton: I needed to find new expressions and ways to keep my enthusiasm at high levels. I found that I was on “repeat” and not all the money or success in the world can motivate me if I’m not being authentic to my musical needs and at least ´trying´ to break new ground. It’s hard though, dropping the identity that brought you so many benefits and starting fresh (ish) you have to accept a new reality and accept that external interests change. Maybe I won’t be of interest anymore? Who knows, let’s see. In many instances, it doesn’t matter how well you’re playing or if you earned your stripes or not over the years, there’s more interest in how many followers you have (purchased or real) and how exciting your stage dance is lol. So jump into the void, dry-clean the ego re-invent with passion, and have faith that the universe and your friends have got your back.

EG: Your music often has an introspective quality. Can you tell us more about how your spiritual practice informs your creative process?

Anthony Middleton: I don’t know if my spiritual practices have in any way added to my signature sound. I guess I’ve always been a bit melancholy and introspective a bit minor with a hopeful quality. I guess that’s just my soul’s expression. I think that melancholy is somehow an analogy of life. In the long run, spiritual practices have given me the space to peacefully follow the creative path without burnout tho…that’s definitely one of its gifts.

EG: We are quite excited about your set at Art With Me Miami, which is known for its immersive and transformative art experiences. What kind of experience do you hope to create for your audience at the festival? How does your performance reflect the festival’s theme of interconnectivity?

Anthony Middleton: The immersive, audiovisual piece is about reconnection to oneself, I think it’s safe to say that our disconnectedness from life, other people, and their suffering starts with a disconnection from ourselves. How can one interconnect if you can’t even connect to yourself? This is true both as a musician and as a listener. So this piece is about letting go of the day-to-day, letting the monkey mind rest, and allowing the music and the environment to connect In order to interconnect.

The experience creates a bubble where you are able to drop out and listen fully (as if you were a kid listening fully with more than just your ears), to be creative with your listening in the same way that reading a fiction book convokes you to create your vision of the characters inside your head. All of this whilst you are surrounded by the visual entities I have created, they are infused/layered with mandalas that support your trip and allow you to drift off into the universe….. within that experience, there is a massive interconnection of spirit and listening.

As for my DJ performance, I’m driven by the need to connect the dancefloor, every person to every other person. A kind of hive experience. Everybody in the same space connected through the dance.

EG: With the festival taking place during Art Basel week, how do you envision the synergy between electronic music and the world of visual arts? Are there any art installations or performances you’re particularly looking forward to?

Anthony Middleton: There is a lot of synergy between both worlds. Especially because they are both technology-driven and in many cases the the languages used to create both have a lot of synergy these days, so they both happily inhabit the same space. Moving forward they will definitely get closer and closer until they fuse into another discipline. Don’t get me wrong, music and the visual arts will always enjoy their own singular modes, in fact, dancing to music requires focus (of a kind) without visual distractions in order to truly become lost in the moment, but the future looks like all the arts will be going into a blender and we will see what we see when that happens. Meantime I’m really looking forward to seeing the AIMI dome in action and also I understand there’s a new piece by Michael Benisty on show. I love his work!

“The immersive, audiovisual piece is about reconnection to oneself”

EG: Talking about visual arts, we now see dance music events with stunning visuals. What’s your take on this? Does it add to the “dance” experience?

Anthony Middleton: I mean, even though I have embarked on an audiovisual journey myself, I’m a bit on the fence as to the effectiveness of extreme visuals to enhance the dance experience (as I was just saying). For me, good dance music has always been a “heads down” interaction between the music, the people you’re with, and an almost silent communication with the performer. Visual stimulus (that requires contemplation or analysis) has always been superfluous to that experience. Even the artist shouldn’t take too much of that space up if you know what I mean? The moment dancing becomes cinema it’s another thing completely.  I’m not saying I dislike cinematic visuals, in fact, I’m a huge fan of this burgeoning field of the arts but I question if it heightens the dance experience.

EG: Back to the festival, Art With Me Miami focuses on six core pillars: Art, Dance, Breathe, Eat, Play, and Care. Which of these pillars resonates with you the most personally, and why?

Anthony Middleton: I actually resonate with all these pillars. They all play significant roles in my life and my music. Don’t make me choose! Lol.

EG: You’ve been a part of the electronic music scene for over 30 years. What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the scene over that time? What are your hopes and concerns for the future of electronic music?

Anthony Middleton: I think the most significant shift is that of it moving from being a ‘playground of the heart’ to a full-on monster part of the machine. A shift from underground to overground, a shift from quiet integrity to loud hunger. Those naive and playful days seem to be gone. Maybe ‘I’m’ just naive (laughter). I preferred the days before phones on the dancefloor and the pre-table community was such a bundle of love. I am concerned about where that aspect is taking us. I don’t mind tables but entitlement shouldn’t be part of the formula. And phones, that’s just the same as ‘too many visuals’. The focus is lost. I’d love to see a shift back toward that no-phone vibe. Actually, I was super happy to experience Damian Lazarus’s room at Hi Ibiza this summer, a  real return to the important elements of a good dance. More of that, please.

EG: Your recent flurry of releases showcases your versatility as a producer. Can you share any insights into your upcoming release on Francesca Lombardo’s Echolette? What inspired this project?

Anthony Middleton: This project was one of my first departures from working as part of a duo, mentally, I mean. You’d be surprised how difficult it is to change mindset after working with someone for so many years. You tell yourself to “express yourself” but really it’s quite hard to freestyle without rehashing the old formulas. I mean technically a lot of the formulas that were Audiofly, came from my direction but it’s more like the second-guessing yourself aspect that I’m talking about. Will another person approve of that (musical) move? when you’re writing for two you end up self-sabotaging a lot, so many ideas get lost in the group decisions …this was really a proper escape from a long-time mindset… I love this track for that!

EG: In terms of djing, bootlegs can often be a hidden gem. Are you fond of them? If so, could you share one or two bootlegs you’ve made recently that have been particularly well-received by your audience?

Anthony Middleton: Oh I always make a couple of edits to throw in there although whether I use them or not is very dependent on the set, my edits tend to be more after-party material than main room, so you probably wouldn’t hear them till the appropriate moment, If you’re still awake! And then it’s a lovely surprise I guess. I tend to edit artists that aren’t famous or weren’t very famous…80’s artists who were one-hit wonders or never made it for example. They kinda end up more like a fresh remix than something you think you’ve heard before. I rarely share them publicly either, honestly, it’s the kind of thing that in a world where everyone has access to the same music, those little gems make all the difference to your sound. Actually, you’ll find a couple of unreleased remixes coming out on my new Bushido page…things that I’ve been playing for a while and deserve a limited release to real fans only, keep an eye out for them there!

EG: We heard you’re reopening your label, Maison D’etre. What motivated you to relaunch it, and can you provide any insights into the kind of music and artists we can expect to see on the label in the new year?

Anthony Middleton: Maison was always my passion project. At some point Luca and I developed differing opinions of what was “good music” for Supernature, so instead of conflict I opened Maison D’etre and pursued those deeper more underground vibes I needed in my life. Music without fear. A more personal view of the scene which I was kind of forced to scrap when Audiofly took on new management. Their point of view was to scrap the unnecessary projects, stick to the power projects, and put everything under the Audiofly umbrella. Sadly Maison D’etre was sacrificed for a “bigger picture” approach back then so I’m super happy to bring it back from hibernation. It’s a label that is filled with love, the first few releases along the journey will be from Francesca Lombardo, LUM, Wild Dark, Cali Lauzane, myself, and many others along the way.

Expect timeless dance music, underground, and special moments. Music that will hopefully stay with us all in the archives of dance music for a while. Let’s see. It’s not about that top 10, modern world social media frenzy attitude, it’s about going back to what’s important in writing and releasing music, freedom of musical expression, supporting artists, and creating community.
I’m very excited!!

“I opened Maison D’etre and pursued those deeper more underground vibes I needed in my life. Music without fear”

EG: Do you have any other projects are in the horizon? We would love to get a sneak peek.

Anthony Middleton: Well, as you know I’ve been diving deep into my immersive audio/visual project that I’ve been developing since Covid, called The Darker the Night (TDTN). First, it was an album, then it became a live musical performance, right now I’m working with some really interesting and highly respectable people in their fields to bring both the audio and video aspects to another level completely. Both in very unique ways.

I’ve been working on furthering my digital art installation by adding Touch Designer (a node-based visual programming language for generating real-time interactive content) into the mix as well as working with some very clever peeps working with audio signals as a way of stimulating various states of consciousness. It’s all coming together into a very interesting hybrid. I’m very grateful to these futurists who are supporting my vision, all will be revealed at Art with Me.

I don’t want to say more than that, just come and experience this mind trip with me and let me know what you think. I’m also about to open another label tentatively called Objects in the Mirror, an ambient label, but not the usual ambient that has become normal, I’m focused on the leftfield, highly musical, and creative ambient music. Sadly that word has become a bit dirty and meaningless…I’d like to re-energize the genre and bring it back to where it was before, a journey of creative discovery.

Through my The Darker The Night project, I’ve been connecting to some beautiful music and I think the world needs that right now. I won’t be releasing music like a “maniac” in order to play the numbers game, this will (as with MD) be a “for the love of music” project. I am open to suggestions from everyone out there but keep it high level, no droney, singing bowl-filled, ‘made in 5 minutes’ submissions please (sorry if I just offended anyone!).

EG: With such a busy schedule and diverse creative projects, how do you manage your time and creative energy effectively? Do these different projects influence and inspire each other in unexpected ways?

Anthony Middleton:  Yes, they all feed each other and feed me. I mean ultimately as a community we all just live and breathe the music and creativity. What else would we be doing? The art is maintaining the creative juices, avoiding burnout, and allowing the art to pay for you to stay in the art. It doesn’t matter how many projects you have as long as they are feeding you and you aren’t giving out more energy than you receive back from them. It is also important that you have those people in your life who remind you to step away from the projects and the lifestyle and just be a husband, friend, or son at times, spending time in love, in meditation, looking after your health and your family are the other very important side of the coin that keeps the dance going.

EG: Thanks for your time Anthony, all the best with everything you have going on, and looking forward to seeing you at Art With Me. 

Anthony Middleton: Much Love and thanks so much!

Anthony Middleton is set to perform at Art With Me Miami on December 9th, 2023. Get your tickets here.

Follow Anthony Middleton:  Spotify  | Instagram   | Soundcloud

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