When I first came across a band called Fly By Midnight one day on Spotify, I couldn't believe how good these guys were. There was something special about them; I knew the second I heard a few of their singles such as Vibe and XL. A few months later, the guys announced a show they were playing in Hollywood in just a few weeks time. After exchanging some emails and some ideas, I had the opportunity to meet and grab coffee with the NYC based duo while they were visiting Southern California; not only are they talented, they just so happen to be charming and genuine people, with a great sense of humor. You can watch the full interview below (10/10 would recommend) or read on to see more photos from the shoot we put together in West Hollywood, find out what Fly By Midnight is about.
Me: If you guys want to introduce yourselves, where you guys are from, and what you do exactly in the band.
Justin: My name is Justin Bryte, I play keyboard and sing in the duo, and I'm from Staten Island, New York, born and raised.
Slavo: My name is Slavo, I am from Florida, and I play guitar and I sing.
M: For those who might not be familiar with the band, how did Fly By Midnight get started and where did the name come from?
J: Yeah, two very different things, because the name was definitely not an organic process, but I guess coming together was more natural. Slavo moved to Florida from Staten Island, about, how many years ago, what was it?
S: Yeah, 5 years ago. I moved to New York from Florida. After being there for a couple years, I met Justin at a studio on Staten Island, and he was doing a solo project. I was producing, and we started working together, wrote the first song we released as Fly By Midnight called Brooklyn, and that was one of the first songs we ever wrote together; that was kind of the birth of Fly By Midnight. The name itself was- it was funny, we spent like a whole week trying to figure that out.
J: We drove around looking at signs and stuff...
S: Exactly, yeah, just looking for inspiration.
J: It was funny, we wrote the song first, and we knew we wanted to be a duo, and then we were like -
M: You're like "now what?"
J: Yeah! We wrote the song and were like "who are we?". But it all came together, and now here we are.
S: We like to say that because our sound is fly and retro, we came up with the idea of "Fly", and then "By Midnight" came from the idea that we're up past midnight pretty much every night.
M: I feel that. So you just released your latest single, All the Feels, what was the inspiration behind the song and how has the feedback been from the fans and the general public so far? I know it literally just came out.
S: Yeah, it's been what? A day?
M: A whole day!
J: Yeah a whole day! (laughs) I mean, for being a whole day, it's been really really positive. I think what we were really striving for the track was to just be universally relatable; it's such a feel good, positive song, and we just really wanted to inject those positive vibes into everyone. Because everyone has their feels; you know, whether it's a romance, or, like we said, a cup of coffee in the morning -
S: Ice cream, puppies...
J: Yeah, ice cream -
M: Pizza -
J: For me, it's coffee over romance any day of the week. But yeah, the story, the real story, is that we were sitting in the studio right, and we were searching on Spotify just listening to the music because we're music fans as well, and I came across a playlist on Spotify called "All the Feels", and I looked over at Slavo and I was like, "yeah this is a cool title for a song", and we looked it up and no one had wrote a song yet called All the Feels, and we were like "quick! write it! release it!". It's been really cool, I think the video came together - it was the first video also we filmed a little bit of awhile ago - we've kind of had it in our pocket for awhile, so it was cool to kind of hold onto it and be excited for it to come out.
M: And how has the feedback been as far as the song goes? Have the fans been reacting really well?
S: It's funny, everyone that's a fan of Fly By Midnight, they show us so much love, and we appreciate it, and we've been getting great feedback; people are going crazy about the song. The one thing I will say is we have a guy named Matt Reed, who's over at Mix 107.1 at Boston radio station, and he's been showing us love since, I think Malibu, or before that, he's a great radio host over there and he's been supporting us. One thing he said that I thought was really cool was that he premiered the song on the radio over there, and talked about how he was playing the song, you know, driving down the coast, and it was gonna be the next summer smash; just having that kind of energy and support behind the song is really important to us, and keeps us going.
J: And I think for us too, because he has heard all of our songs, he's premiered a lot of our songs, I think the fact that he - we speak on a friendly basis kind of now - and he's like "yo, this is like the one", and we were like "ah alright, this is the one".
M: It's like "Yeah, let's hope so"! (laughs)
J: We'll find out!
M: That's awesome!
M: With the new music you guys have released this year so far, is there any plans for a tour in the US, or maybe even globally? Maybe? Hopefully?
S: I mean yeah, we've been trying to go do a tour, like since we started we wanted to do a sorority tour, we thought that would be a lot of fun, it's more of our demographic and ya know, colleges are always a lot of fun. We played a lot of college shows in the beginning too, so yeah as far as touring the states, we've been trying to get on a booking with another artist that we kind of work well with. If we could do it on our own, we would do it in a heartbeat. It's more of just the whole funding process and just making sure everything's set up, so it's more timing for us, making sure it;s done the right way, and we want to take advantage of trying to meet everyone that we can while on the road. And you know, as far as international, we've been trying to go to a lot of these - we have a lot of fans in Europe, Australia, we even have a cool little fan base in Asia, Asia is a really cool fan base; it's all timing. We just want to make sure when we do it, it's done right.
M: Totally, makes sense. What has been the difference between New York and the East Coast, versus the West Coast? As far as the fan scene, the music scene -
S: The weather!
M: Just everything, the weather (laughs)
J: Yeah, it's exciting, and slightly nerve-wracking at the same time, because New York is kind of the birth town of Fly By Midnight, so whenever we do play a show there - we usually play a big one every year that's usually like a summer party, like one we just played - it's always packed out. We know it's gonna sell out and bring in people. I think LA is really exciting because we communicate with fans through social media here, but obviously we don't live here. So we don't know what to expect. I think it'll be really cool, and I think it'll go over really well so I guess we'll find out.
M: That's awesome. So, this is the last question, and I always ask this with everybody I interview with: what's some advice that you might have for creatives and other musicians to stay inspired and to keep pursuing the dream?
S: That's a really good question. It's easy to get caught up in doing and being creative, and get overwhelmed by the constant hustle, and for us, we've been very fortunate that we see the increase every time we release a new song, and we've seen it with the content, and we've seen our numbers go up, so it's definitely rewarding. That's something that's tangible, and we can feed off that, but you know, every now and then we get worked up and it's tiring, so it's just kind of understanding what you're capable of doing as far as content and what you're putting out there and making sure you're resting for these things. I don't know, it sounds stupid, but -
J: No, I think it's a good point. I mean, especially if you do hustle, and I know you hustle, and for the Fly By fans, you know that we hustle, and I think we've learned, even especially lately, that we were pushing ourselves 1000 miles per hour, but sometimes you gotta kick it back to 999. Kind of just take a day to heal your mind and stuff. But I would just say, experimenting because, especially for Fly By Midnight, and even also on the photography and video side, it's easy to get caught up in what everyone's doing. So we constantly want to kind of turn the creative knob a bit left of center, and if it doesn't work, you go back; but if it works, that's what will set you aside from the rest.
S: Spice things up.
J: Yeah, spice it up, and don't be afraid to fail.
S: Fuck with the flava - quote me.
Be sure to follow Fly By Midnight on their social media:
And while you're at it, check out their latest single, All the Feels, below!
Thanks to Justin & Slavo for such a fun afternoon and taking the time to shoot and hang! Might have an excuse to go to New York in the future, but maybe that's just me. Who would you like to see me interview and shoot with next? Leave a comment below and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to stay updated on all things photo and music related! Until next time!