Justin Bryte, Slavo of Fly By Midnight talk being the architect of their own artistry

Photo of singer Justin Bryte
Justin Bryte/Courtesy

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If the talents of a singer-songwriter, producer and director could sum up to one band, it’d be Fly By Midnight. The nostalgic indie pop duo is looking ahead to their next era of music — and to get there, all they need is themselves.

Justin Bryte and Slavo, the stage name of Justin Slaven, have everything to say this upcoming year. With live concerts on the horizon and a collection of fresh songs in the works, the two are eager to present a wide array of stories and emotions. “When She’s Dancing,” released on Mar. 26, marks the first installment of their new wave of musical maturation and evolution.

“ ‘When She’s Dancing’ was like a visualization of a girl with headphones in, dancing on the cracks of an earthquake in the world while there’s a war above her,” Bryte said in an interview with The Daily Californian. “There’s burning buildings and she’s just listening to music. It’s just so removed from reality, and now, more than ever, I think we’re all looking for that kind of person who is just unfazed and really doesn’t wear all that on her sleeve.”

Releasing Apr. 16, “No Choice” is the sonic complement to “When She’s Dancing.” It’s a track to get completely immersed in, something to effortlessly sing along to in an endless car ride. The music video accompanying the song will include the same lead dancer from “When She’s Dancing,” but while the two songs contain this bridging commonality, they each carry their own unique, distinct message.

“The themes are all different, but I think they all make sense. For us, it was important for this next song to feel different,” Slaven said. “We still want to keep the fans on their toes. But at the same time, it’s just good pop music. We just really want to make sure the song is good, so no matter how many songs we end up having, we’re always going to end up being super picky about each thing.”

All while exploring their musical frontier, the pair will continue to remain close to their original sound with the help of their personal involvement in every artistic choice. This direct streamline of their vision to loyal fans is what sets Fly By Midnight apart. With this, Bryte and Slaven have crafted a discography and visual collective that is genuinely them; any barriers that come with a separate manager or executive are broken.

“From start to finish, we’re writing the songs. I’m producing the songs. Justin is always here doing all the creative stuff,” Slaven said. “We’re doing the artwork, the music videos — and since day one, that’s always been the case. So, whether we decide to put out an EDM song or we feature another artist, for some reason, it always still has that Fly By Midnight feel to it.”

Originally hailing from New York City, Bryte and Slaven have found an oasis of inspiration in Los Angeles. Outgrowing their Staten Island closet studio apartment, the pair’s move to Southern California has opened their minds and spirits to a promising change in scenery, one that helps breed creativity and connection.

“Within the past three or four years, we’ve started collaborating more even outside of our project with other artists,” Slaven said. “I think a big thing for us was to be able to build that portfolio, and it really wasn’t happening for us in New York. I don’t know if it’s something in the air out here, but the stuff that’s been happening for us out here has been crazy.”

Apart from their work as Fly By Midnight, the duo engages with other neighboring projects as well. Being on the West Coast has helped propel them further into the entertainment industry that they not only contribute to, but also produce for as well.

“A lot of fans of Fly By don’t know that we have a full different career as writers and producers for other artists,” Bryte said. “We’ve been able to create these relationships that also come back to Fly By. But writing for all sorts of artists has been like a palette cleanser when we are so head-in-the-books for Fly By sometimes.”

Regardless of where they are, who they come across or what they’ve already accomplished, the pair is focused on setting their sights high for 2021. No matter how their musical growth may materialize, Bryte and Slaven have nothing but heart to share with their followers and the world.

“Just our whole headspace putting out music this year has no rules,” Bryte said. “If we love a song, we’ll put it out tomorrow. And being able to have that one-to-one expression with our fans is everything. It inspires us to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Contact Ashley Tsai at [email protected].