To celebrate the release of their second EP Elm’s Way and East Coast tour, Mid Ayr vocalist and guitarist Hugh takes us through his top 5 favourite lyricists.
Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes)
Conor Oberst does what I think every artist strives to do and that is to express all those things inside of you that seem indescribable. He conjures up concepts, beliefs and emotions in me that I never thought had existed, or at least had come close to understanding and executes them so perfectly in song. He’s an incredibly articulate, daring and courageous lyricist often going down paths that are controversial and self-deprecating. I think I just really admire an artist that isn’t afraid to use the harsh truth as fuel for art and Conor is renowned for doing just that.
Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
I like the fact that even to this day, after years and years of being infatuated by Radiohead and any project of Thom Yorke, I still don’t come close to really understanding what my most beloved songs are all about. This however, is precisely what I love about his writing style. The ambiguity, mystery and the purposeful mumble behind his delivery, force you to listen more. So much more that you become obsessed and need to find out what it all means. His choice of words are so unique to me. This correlation with human existence and ‘disease or ‘battery hens’, his bleak outlook on society and the state of the world encapsulated through metaphors. But because of how fucking mysterious he is as a person you’re only left guessing with your own theories. His lyrics say so much to me with out really saying anything at all. I’ll spend the rest of my days enthralled in them; going back and forth repeatedly, attempting to dive into that imagination and understand but I know that I’ll never really grasp it.
Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie)
I’m a fan of how Ben Gibbard (similar to Conor Oberst) can execute such affliction in his lyrics without having them jump out at you in an awkward, over dramatic sort of way. They’re like journals – quite direct and often about finding the fascination in the mundane, asking a lot of questions and unravelling some deep seeded vulnerability. He has this incredible knack for funnelling ‘hard to swallow’ honesty into a sugary pop song. It’s definitely something that I also strive for – drawing that line between the ‘ear candy’ and the ‘truth’.
Mark Kozalek (Sun Kil Moon)
Probably the most literal lyricist in existence. Songs about his recent tour of the UK where he was heckled by a sickly looking man, playing a show on a boat in Bristol to then ordering white fish for lunch and chatting to the waitress and so on, so on. Amongst The Leaves is up there for being one of my favourite albums of his. Particularly because it really showcases his ability of expressing something so literal while summoning the deeper meaning. He’s a middle-aged singer songwriter that is somewhat jaded and burnt out from touring extensively for the greater part of his life. I think just for that reason alone he is fascinating to listen to. The people he meets and captures in his songs. I feel like he is on some kind of mission to make make sense of a lot of the tragedy that is often under looked and swept away unannounced in our day to day.
Probably one of the most underrated lyrical geniuses of our time. He’s an autistic savant that channels the melodic and lyrical complexity to that of the Beatles. Got heavily into Daniel Johnston after watching the Doco ‘The Devil and Daniel Johnston’. After that, for months all I listened to was Songs of Pain. With most of his content recorded on a Dictaphone or a cheap 4 track, his inability to play guitar only made him more fascinating to me. He’s an artist that genuinely feels what he sings about. So much so that he often is renowned for breaking down and bawling mid song. His lyrics are so clever, quick witted and real. There’s no fucking around with poetry or metaphors as such, its direct but quirky, just like his drawings.
Catch Mid Ayr on any of their tour dates below:
Friday 28th April – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney NSW
w/ Brightness + Daggy Man
Friday 5th May – The Grace Darling, Melbourne VIC
w/ Slowcoaching + Daggy Man
Saturday 6th May – The Foundry, Brisbane QLD
w/ Future Haunts + Daggy Man