The word “retro” can represent different time periods to different people. For Justin Bryte, one-half of the New York based retro-pop duo Fly By Midnight, it’s license to draw from all eras of music to help craft their sound.
“It’s vague in the sense that it doesn’t limit us to a certain time period of inspiration,” Bryte said. “I think retro is really kind of paying a homage to any prior music, and that’s kind of what we do. We take inspiration from previous generations of music and kind of put this modern twist on it.”
Bryte and the other half of Fly By Midnight, Slavo, formed the duo back in 2015. Slavo came to New York from Florida to pursue music and would eventually be brought in as a producer on a solo project Bryte was working on. Their partnership grew from there.
“We worked for maybe a month or so and then we wrote the song ‘Brooklyn’ together,” Slavo said. “After that, we kind of noticed that there was something special, more than just a producer and artist relationship. We just kind of naturally formed into a duo.”
Their single “Brooklyn” is also where Slavo says the retro-pop sound first came into the picture. “I remember Justin told me when we were working on ‘Brooklyn’ that he wanted it to feel more ‘80s inspired,” Slavo said. “That’s where the whole retro thing kind of originated.”
The ‘80s seem to be a big influence for Bryte, who mentioned Toto, Hall & Oates, and The Outfield as influences. Slavo reached more to the ‘70s with his picks of Billy Joel, Styx, and The Eagles as influences, though he mentioned that they both have some modern influences as well. Bryte said that one of the good things about their influencers is that “we definitely have some of the same, but we also have different ones as well.”
In this day and age, people like connecting to something that they know is coming from the artists themselves.
Along with original tracks like the aforementioned “Brooklyn,” “Karaoke,” and “Vinyl,” Fly By Midnight has put out a number of covers. Slavo said that they don’t just want to cover songs to make exact replicas of them, which is what he’s seen others do.
“There’s this popularity in doing covers these days where a lot of people will just make a new arrangement of something that sounds very similar to what’s already out there,” Slavo said. “We try to push ourselves as far as being original to our sound and we create something that sounds like Fly By Midnight.”
Bryte added that when they look for songs to cover, they are always looking for songs that they feel can be molded and shaped to fit their sound. “We roam Spotify, we roam YouTube, and we look for songs that we love, but songs that we think have a little bit of blank space to make it something different,” Bryte said.
Platforms like YouTube and Spotify aren’t just for finding songs to cover. Fly By Midnight also understands how important these tools can be for getting their music out to fans, and they take as much advantage of it as they can.