Inspired by 80's driven pop and influences from bands like The Outfield to Hall and Oates, Justin Bryte and Justin Slavo have spent the past few years combining their talents within the realms of singing, songwriting and production to create stylistically retro pop music as Fly By Midnight.
The NewYork-based duo has amassed an ever growing abundance of support by playing college shows and festivals, with an effort to meet and build personal connections with attendees whenever possible. In a musical climate where content is so easily accessible and artists often face difficulties holding the attention of new listeners, Fly By Midnight have managed to continue building on their successes. They've achieved this by maintaining a steady stream of music releases and delivering track after track of music that seemingly improves time after time. After the release of their 2018 compilation New York Nostalgia, they have arrived at a moment where they feel confident and comfortable in releasing their first proper project featuring old and new tracks, Rerunning.
"We were afraid to put out a body of work," Bryte tells EARMILK, "because people don’t listen to it as much as they used." He has a point–over the years the concept of an album has been lost unto those who prioritize the convenience of being able to cherry-pick tracks on streaming services over the consumption of a whole project. Bryte is optimistic that this stance is beginning to die off but an art style that shouldn't be completely forgotten.
Rerunning is reflective of the duo's willingness to creatively push themselves in various directions to encourage new and eclectic sounds. Rather than entering the writing session with a clear plan to create music specifically for Fly By Midnight, Bryte and Slavo sat down with NY based producer Kyle Kelso with the intention with no set direction in mind. Bryte says this allowed them to be more creatively free in their ideologies, continuing, "even lines like ‘rolling with ecstasy’–that’s not usually stuff we throw into our music, but it was cool." The process of creating standout tracks like "Heart" allowed the duo to bring something completely different to the album, showing how heavily they value evolution and allowing room for growth in their music. "Ain't Got Much To Go" is another highlight track on Rerunning that came towards the end of the album's completion, Slavo reiterating that "it just shows how we’re elevating sound-wise and maturing as artists from lyrics to the sound production."
The first two releases from the album, "All The Feels" and "Just Say It" set contrasting tones for the album, with the latter being a more melancholic counterpart to the heavily upbeat pop production of the former. "Just Say It," conjured up in a writing session with another artist, is one of the more heavily emotional tracks from the album and displays the groups more intimate songwriting skills.
When it comes to writing, the duo mentions that they prefer writing with other artists rather than for them, citing artists like Jon Bellion, Troye Sivan, and Matty Healy as writing inspirations for their manner of working outside of a mold and differentiating themselves from other artists.
The track "Swimming With Sharks" was created with producer Dave Edwards, and is the only song in the duo's discography that doesn't include their own production. "There was a lot of trust there," says Bryte of the creation of the song. It displays the group's maturity as they open up their music to be influenced by outside producers, a sense of trust that allows seasoned musicians to let their music reach its full potential.
The only other collaboration included on Rerunning, "I Feel It," is a progressively building duet with Phoenix singer-songwriter Carly Paige. Of the two collective tracks, Slavo admits, "This is the first time we’re doing original content while we’re collaborating, and I think that's kind of big for us. Obviously, we want to do that more, and working with other artists is the best way to expand what you’re doing." As the duo integrates new techniques in their creative process, they look at it as what they refer to as a testament to evolution, Bryte acknowledging: "There's definitely an evolution that's happening, and I can only hope the everything we continue to put out people get more and more excited about."
Of the writing of "Lovin' You's A Little Bit Hard Sometimes," Bryte says it made it easy that Slavo already "knew where my head was at and who I was thinking about when we started the song." These inspiring experiences are what have driven the tone of a large portion of this album, Slavo citing the importance of realizing "the fact that we’re young and to take advantage of these years and create experiences that we can be inspired," including adventurous nights that would be fitting to be soundtracked by songs like "You Belong" and "ILYA." These tracks also feature evident influences from Fly By Midnight's indie-pop contemporaries such as LANY, Chelsea Cutler, Joan, and The Band Camino.
Going back to their YouTube roots, the duo are planning on releasing carefully planned lyric videos for each track on the album to uphold their creative visual presence. Fly By Midnight still has a lot of steps to climb to reach that main stage, including a world tour at some point in the future, but longevity is their main goal. "We’re so focused on the now, it would be nice to kind of think of the future and have that comfortability with a cult following to always be with us," says Bryte, with Slavo having said earlier that a key to making this happen is "to be patient and make the best thing you can make creatively."