After numerous singles, covers, and 190,000+ subscribers on Youtube, Fly By Midnight is gearing up to release their first official EP “Party Favors.”
For those who don’t know, Fly By Midnight is a retro-pop band from “The Lost Burough” known as Staten Island, New York, consisting of two members, Justin Bryte and Slavo. They’re known for their contagious energy, captivating stories, and unique, avant-garde covers and originals. Last week I got to catch up with them and hear their story. Here are two lives in a few paragraphs.
In the early 2010’s, they were both college students, explorers venturing into the world of decisions, personal responsibility and self-discovery. In high school, Slavo was a self proclaimed jock. He was a talented football player with his dreams set on going to the NFL. He attended Stetson University (a nationally ranked school) and played football his freshman year.
Contrary to his hopes, football did not bring the solace that he had seeked. “College became miserable. I remember staring at the ceiling in my dorm room asking myself, ‘What do I want to do?’” This was when Slavo made one of the most important decisions of his life, the pursuit of music.
He dropped out of college, left Florida, and moved to New York. Living in his granddad’s house, he developed tunnel vision towards his future in music. After scouring the internet, he found an apprenticeship with the company Recording Connections. He completed the 2-year program, and thanks to the connection from a cousin, began working with The Emergence Music Group. (Music Groups are the music industry’s equivalent to incubators in the startup world, teams designed to help artists develop and blow up).
Justin Bryte grew up in Staten Island. “I played football too, but was terrible,” he says laughing. “I came from more of a theatre background, and since I was 15 or 16, I knew I wanted to do music.” He graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in marketing, and quickly began to chase his dream. After finding The Emergence Music Group, he was linked up with Slavo. The two instantly clicked, Slavo producing the majority of the beats, and Justin spearheading the songwriting.
“The first record we wrote together was ‘Brooklyn,” says Justin. “It’s one of my favorite songs we’ve made because it just captures the feeling of the city and tells a [somewhat exaggerated] version of our life.” After they heard what they’d done, there was no doubt about future collaborations, and this eventually became the project Fly By Midnight. ‘Brooklyn’ went live on Youtube two years ago (currently has over 300k views on their personal page), and they haven’t looked back since.
Keys to Success
The success of the group is the result of extraordinary hard-work, passion, planning and realness. They’ve gotten to the point where they are “overwhelmingly busy in a good way.”
“We don’t do drugs,” says Justin. “It’s a dangerous world, and once you get involved, it ruins your career.” Slavo adds “We’re way too productive to do drugs.. Anything that slows down our work pace is off the table!” That being said, they drink from time to time. To continue their streak of constant productivity, they see partying as “writing the next song.” Their lyrics are based around their experiences. They bring their life to their music, which brings their music to life, and they do it all on their own.
“Everything is DIY,” Slavo tells me. “If we can make it on our own, we don’t need anyone else, which allows us to not have to rely on anyone else for our success… that being said, we’re always looking for and open to collaborations.” They have their sound, focus and strategy on lock, yet they’re not too self-righteous to be open to ideas from others. Genius.
Genres are fluid, and were made for us, the listeners. It allows us to organize our tastes, and find artists similar to those we like, but genres are by no means defining, solid, or even descriptive of the music created by those in that genre.
I spend most of my time listening to rap music, by the likes of Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Boogie, Joey Badass, etc, and an electronic genre that doesn’t have a name, ranging from soul-infecting beats by DJ Craze, norm shattering noises from Nicolas Jaar, and the vibey, lovely music of Flume. I don’t listen to a lot of “pop music”. The “pop music” group I listen to most (besides Gucci Mane) is probably Odesza, and their “genre” is “future pop”. When I discovered the genre of “retro pop”, I was both intrigued and confused. How does pop music, which is essentially the popular music of the time, become retro?
Justin and Slavo call retro pop a vague term, characterized by a bass heavy, 80’s-ish vibe. “It’s fun, with unique harmonies, melodies, and nostalgia.” Their sound has evolved from when they began, and their current focus is more on a 70s, hip-hopish, ear popping, retro mesh. But truth be known, they are “eclectic, pulling from all different genres.” I’m not trying to tell you what their music sounds like, there’s only one way to describe that, and you can’t do it with your mouth. Only with your ears and your brain.
What to expect
Though we can’t hear any of the music they’re (anxiously) waiting to drop, we can get ideas based on what they’re listening to now. “That new Harry Styles song,” says Justin. “He’s changing the industry, the way he uses live instrumentation.” They also gave a shoutout to Migos for “doing their thing.”
Migos, like Fly By Midnight, is steadily crafting their own road by doing things their own way (colloquially known as dat way). All they told me about the new music is that, “2017 is the year of transformation.” Keep your eyes peeled, the pot is on the stove.
Donald Trump and the Youth
As our phone conversation came to an end, I wanted to give these talented musicians and entrepreneurs a chance to say something to one of the (sadly) most important voices in the world right now. I asked them the question we all yearn to hear but often have no answer for: what would you tell Donald Trump?
“Follow through,” says Justin. “We’re all working for the youth of America, the future of our country. We love our country and want to see its full potential.”
“Throw some attention towards the music industry. Specifically with illegal downloads, the industry isn’t as lucrative as it was, but right now, there’s the potential to be creative more than ever before.” Slavo also hopes that Trump will throw some money towards music and art in general, and not forget about this salient, everlasting piece of our culture. In Trump’s pursuit of money, power and the spotlight, it could be easy for the “softer” aspects of life (like love, art, and happiness) to be destroyed.
To inspire all of you creators of future masterpieces, they have this to say. “Do what makes you happy. Make decisions you’re not comfortable with. You have to work all day to make your dreams happen. Talk to anyone, email random people. Don’t be afraid to take risks if you want to succeed.”
Remember their name, or if you don’t, you’ll see them on the stage of the Grammy’s next year, celebrating the win of their upcoming EP “Party Favors” (dropping this summer).
photos courtesy of Twitter and Youtube