The Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Middle Part has stepped into himself and he’s ready to talk about it. From living in a shipping container to moving to New York City, he has found openness and acceptance, whether it’s seeing it in a musician at a gig or sliding into someone’s dm asking to jam, he found that New Yorkers don’t give a fuck and they’re down for anything. We see his new vulnerability all over his music. His latest single “Heartbeat” is a perfect example. It started as a seedling in Alaska and grew during quarantine in New York.
His music is soulful and synthy with a tinge of sadness. His music personifies his bleeding heart. He’s not just another Brooklyn stylish sad boy, he’s got talent to back it up and we love hearing it. There’s an animated video out now for the new single and it is psychedelic, colourful and full of sad people. We got to talk to the musician (and he has a lot to say) about New York, music as an outlet, and writing “Heartbeat.”
What’s your favorite thing about living in Brooklyn?
First of all, I’d like to thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you for your magazine. I’ve been a fan of your publication for a long time, and this means a lot to me. To answer your question, quarantine has created disillusionment for us so the answer to that isn’t easy to pin down. But currently my favorite thing is literally being in my loft at all times. It’s my safety blanket, and I make music and art here with my friends. I get anxious when I’m away from it. It’s very special to me.
How has living in New York influenced your style and music? How’s the music scene there?
Living in New York has changed my life. The community of musicians here are so ahead of themselves sonically at all times it’s truly mind blowing, but it never feels like I’m competing with them. I’ve been lucky to befriend some of my heroes in this city who also happen to just fly under the radar (which is also ridiculous). I’m a bleeding heart fan boy of music so I’m constantly digging for “that sound” as well as new music overall when I’m not recording with my partner, Brian.
The artists here that have impacted my process take on many different forms, and I think it comes out from time to time. I have no problem admitting to that either . There’s still something very special about the artists coming out of New York, and I feel very graced by their talents all the time. I think to play the motif of originality is tired in pop music, and I observe that ego in artists a lot. It’s all an illusion.
We should lift up the artists that inspire us big and small. I think it brings more humanity into the art form. Transparency through art is something we really fucking need right now. Music shouldn’t be something displayed in a window. Musicians should be accessible because we really need to connect with each other while we are currently being thrown into this bizarre state of the world.
My point is New York created that mentality in me. The shows I’ve attended here made me realize the people here don’t give a fuck what they look like while they are doing it; they just want to do it. That’s really punk to me. I’ve been playing in bands since I was a kid and was brought up in Nashville where everything felt so contrived and clique-y. I never fit in and nobody fucked with me there. Here you can slide into someones DM’s and be like “all I want to do is shred,” and they’ll tell you to pull up. That acceptance here is so beautiful, and I wish everyone was like that because the gate keeping bullshit has got to stop. We’re all in this together. You don’t need a degree from a swanky college to emote through an instrument or understand music. I’d like to spread that message because to me it’s impactful, and I feel very whole and lucky to be experiencing feeling here in New York.
Tell me about what it was like writing “Heartbeat” and where did the concept for the music video come from?
Writing ‘Heartbeat’ was something I started while I was living in Alaska outside of Anchorage in a small town called Girdwood. I didn’t have much knowledge on how to record so I’d use Garageband on my phone a lot or just play and sing to my DX7 that I brought with me and voice memo it. At that point when I started it it was just that chorus. I posted it on my IG story and wrote a caption on it that said “I wish I could finish an entire idea,” and then I forgot about it. I was in a place mentally that had me confused about who I was or what I was doing with my life hence why I relocated to Alaska from Nashville. So these little ideas came in waves, and I was never confident enough as an artist to commit to them.
From Alaska I moved to NYC along with my long time friend and musical partner Brian Zaremba. The first idea we started toying with was “Heartbeat”, and we even shelved it then picked it back up in quarantine where we finished it. That song has a lot of emotions and layers to it. My favorite line in the song is “Do you feel alive? I wish I was alive and feeling something” which is where the title of our forthcoming record comes from. I think it really captures where I was at when I was writing all these songs. Feeling so removed from my own emotions and believing you’re crazy for your entire life is really taxing, and I really wanted to be honest through this record and especially in that song.
When did music become an outlet for you? What first got you into music?
Music has always been an outlet for me. Growing up my father was a disc jockey so we always got the radio promos when they came in. My mom had a closet full of all the bands that were coming up in the 90’s and early millennium so I was exposed to a lot of the mainstream stuff that was happening then as well developing my own taste for it as a child. My dad’s side of the family was a bit more artistic so I was able to toy around with instruments here and there and had an electric keyboard at my mom’s house that I’d sit down with and play for hours.
I think starting out when I really developed that deep love for music was when my dad gifted me my first guitar. He would take me to a lot of shows starting at the age of three, and I think that really helped connect me to the idea of wanting to start playing. I had a lot of duality in my music taste which I think helped round out what I connected with as well. I developed a love for recording when I was gifted a Tascam four track. I was obsessed with John Frusciante’s solo work, and I think that might be the first time I really connected with an artist.
I was a hole in the wall guitarist until I was 17 when I went to a local show and saw a band perform. I messaged them on Myspace to see if they would let me try out. It ended up working out, and my dad or uncle would drive me to practice every Friday for years. I was fairly sheltered and wasn’t allowed to go to parties or really hang out with people much so that was my outlet. Seeking that freedom I believe you need to be exposed to in your formative years was extremely helpful.
When you’re not doing music, how do you waste your time?
I do normal stuff: I like to cook, watch movies, read, but mainly I listen to music constantly. When we’re recording I try not to listen to a lot of music because I don’t want it to dilute my process. So when we aren’t recording I’m catching up on new records, old records I haven’t heard, or digging for new bands. It’s a necessity for me to have sound on at all times to concentrate or feel “ignited”.
What albums would you give to a kid that’s just starting to build their music collection.
This is a loaded question because everyone is so different, and on top of that I think the list would be endless. I’d much rather give a kid access to an instrument or show them how cool it is to express themselves through music. I think I’d give them a list of bands that are local to their scene so they can have the experience of wanting to get up there and do it. My parents never pushed a genre of music or specific artists on me which allowed me to find what I really loved. But to answer your question I think “In Rainbows” by Radiohead really changed my life. That being said I’d love to include an artist playlist I made called “Friends & Local Heroes”. It includes a list of artists that have moved me in some way or another and a lot of them are my dear friends. You can find that here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3nPrISgtUpYzuh9x7hBP0l?si=WNLp0LP3TOG9WaiwLpoUCg
CONNECT WITH MIDDLE PART
photos / Carina Allen
story / Vogue Giambri