Today, you’ll hear producers ironically say electro isn’t dead. While the dance-pop sound of the 2000s is still kicking around, it’s approached through a more nostalgic, chilled-out perspective, rather than glitchy, catchy synth lines framing a traditional song structure.
Listeners can observe this evolution through “Automatic,” the single released by New York City retro-pop duo Fly By Midnight, with Jake Miller supplying the vocals. Out on November 20th on Snafu Records, “Automatic” takes a more minimalist approach than most have heard from this on-the-rise duo, opting for more of a downtempo sound.
“Automatic” also sets up Fly By Midnight’s upcoming EP, expected to feature a handful of collaborations with other artists. Among them, we’ve gotten glimpses of the result through “Caffeine,” featuring singer Shoffy, and “Lost Without You,” with Clara Mae.
Fly By Midnight consists of songwriter Justin Bryte and producer/songwriter Slavo, who’ve gradually been gaining momentum through dance-pop anthems and reworked covers. To date, they’ve received positive endorsement in Billboard, Buzzfeed, NYLON, and the Huffington Post and have since amassed over 250,000 subscribers on YouTube, plus over 30 million streams across multiple platforms.
These factors have since led to a sold-out album performance in New York City and spots at the Firefly & Panorama festival and Netflix’s PRIDE Celebration.
About the instantaneous connection that forms when you meet the right person, “Automatic” is one of multiple collaborations Fly By Midnight have done with Miller. The two wrote and produced two of the singer’s 2019 tracks, “Nobody Else” and “Ocean Away.”
We had a chance to speak with Bryte and Slavo about this track and their upcoming collaborative EP:
“Automatic” drops on November 20. What was your vision for creating this track?
Justin: It’s cool to reflect on the process of writing “Automatic.” A couple of weeks before, we had written our single “LA Lonely,” which captured the complete opposite emotion. In a matter of two weeks, I had gone from feeling really disconnected romantically to finding someone that changed my perspective a lot.
Slavo: We’ve been best friends for about six years now and have seen each other in all different waves of relationships. This track is a snapshot of where we are right now in our lives. It’s not the easiest to write a positive song about love, so it’s one we’re proud of.
You two worked with singer Jake Miller on this track. How did you end up collaborating?
Slavo: Jake’s been a close friend of ours for almost two years. After co-writing and producing a handful of his tracks, it was only a matter of time before we did something together. We had him through to the studio a couple of months ago to listen to the song, and he really vibed with it.
Justin: Working with Jake on the promo assets and video has been a blast, too. We’re all just at this place creatively where we’re eager to try new ideas.
“Automatic” has a somewhat more downtempo feel than other Fly By Midnight tracks. Was this your intention for the track?
Justin: I don’t know if it was our intention, but the first guitar lick you hear was inspired by a Madonna track I played Slavo earlier that day. That sort of kicked off the direction and tempo.
Slavo: While we were writing it, we were referencing artists like Khalid, as well. I wanted to build this powerful yet chill drive that encompassed the concept.
“Automatic” is going to be on an EP with several collaborative tracks. What was your process for deciding who to collaborate with? What more should we expect on the EP?
Slavo: The process has really varied track to track. We’ve said this before, but in many ways, we feel lucky that the previous artists we’ve brought on as features are such awesome people, because we didn’t know them personally beforehand.
Both Clara Mae and Shoffy recorded their parts on the songs before we got to really speak to them much. I think we’re all just mutual fans of each other, so when the ideas were brought up to collaborate, it made sense.
Justin: The EP is going to conclude with an up-tempo track. We wrote this one recently, and it ties the project together really well. As for who the last feature is…can’t say yet.
As another single released this year, “Caffeine” involved a socially distanced music video with singer Shoffy. What was this process like?
Justin: Being responsible and socially distant on set was surprisingly easy and didn’t feel uncomfortable. I think a lot of that is a testament to how serious our crew and all of us took those sorts of precautions.
It was still fun, but just required a bit more prep with building the story around us and Shoffy not having to be close to one another.
How have social distancing measures affected your recording process, if any?
Slavo: It definitely has had an impact on the writing and recording process for the industry as a whole. We’ve written songs on Zoom with people in Sweden and sent vocal files back and forth from Nashville to LA. It’s been a year of adapting, but we’ve continued to keep each other motivated.
Fly By Midnight, as a duo, consists of a songwriter and a songwriter/producer. What has been your process for writing and recording songs?
Justin: Usually one of us will come in with a concept or emotion we want the song to be formed around. From there, Slavo will usually start diving into production while I continue writing with another co-writer. Then we all come together and bring it across the finish line.
Your sound has elements of indie/pop. How would you describe Fly By Midnight’s sound?
Slavo: This past year, we’ve incorporated more live elements in our sound. Acoustic and electric guitars and live bass have been real driving instruments behind the productions. It’s pop with a hint of indie.
When and how did you two start working together?
Justin: A lot of people think we’re brothers, but we met through a studio back in NY about six years ago. Wrote our first song together and haven’t looked back since.
You’ve experienced a significant amount of success and endorsements already. Where would you like to see your career go?
Slavo: It all comes down to growing the fanbase. We’re able to do this full time because of the fans.
Justin: Agreed. I think we’ve always taken it song by song. Show by show. Each one elevating our career more than the last.
Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born EDM and synthpop enthusiast and interviewer who recently relocated to beautiful Boston, MA.