Some things are just meant to be, you know what we mean? Like here at Harney, we know when we’ve created the perfect blend, and it was the same with Justin Bryte and Slavo, the members of Fly By Midnight. They knew almost instantly that they were a perfect blend, and they haven’t looked back since they met. We enjoyed getting to hear their story and are excited to introduce you to this truly dynamic musical duo -- and share some big news!
Harney: Tell us a little about Fly By Midnight. Where are you both from, educational background, where you live now, family, etc.
Justin: I’m from Staten Island, New York where I met Slavo actually. I lived there most of my life. Graduated from Brooklyn College around the time we started Fly By Midnight.
Slavo: I’m from central Florida, a town called Deltona. I moved to New York and lived with my grandpa to pursue music about eight years ago. Met Justin shortly after. We wrote one song together and haven’t looked back.
Justin: Slavo, his wife and pup and I all moved to Los Angeles this past year as well. It’s been an awesome experience to take on together.
Harney: When did each of you become interested in music? What was the first instrument you ever played?
Justin: I’ve always loved music since a young age. I think we both have that in common. Our parents played a ton of music from the ‘70s/’80s around the house. It continues to influence the music we write.
Slavo: Guitar was the first instrument I picked up.
Justin: Piano was my first instrument. We still play both on stage too.
Harney: You both also sing and are prolific songwriters. How and when did those talents develop?
Slavo: I think we both started writing back in high school, but didn’t pursue it professionally until we met.
Justin: We’re both constantly refining and pushing that aspect of our craft too. Every song we write together evolves the project.
Harney: How did you meet?
Slavo: Through a studio out about seven years ago in Staten Island, New York.
Harney: When did you decide to pair up as a duo? What had you been doing previously?
Justin: I brought up the idea to Slavo after one month of writing together. I thought our chemistry as writers, vocalists and friends would really resonate with people. I had been developing my solo project before that, which wasn’t nearly as inspiring at the time.
Slavo: Before Fly By Midnight, I was pursuing production work. I hadn’t really seen an artist project as an option at the time until Justin approached me with the idea.
Harney: Your music is described as indie pop or retro pop. How do you describe your music? Who are your influences, and who would you compare yourselves to as being similar in style/sound?
Slavo: When we first started Fly By Midnight, it definitely had a more retro-based sound. As we’ve grown sonically, we’ve leaned more towards indie-pop and nostalgic vibes.
Justin: Our favorite part about the band is that we’re not really limited in which direction we can go for a future release. Our influences are so eclectic, from legacy acts like Billy Joel and The Beatles to more modern alternative acts like The 1975 and Bad Suns.
Slavo: It really allows us to always feel inspired when creating.
Harney: When did you first start touring? How many states have you toured in? Have you toured outside the U.S.?
Justin: We had our first 30-city college tour back in 2018. At this point we’ve played mostly every state in America.
Slavo: We haven’t toured outside the US, but since Covid we’ve built these engaged fanbases in territories like Taiwan and India, so playing there in the future is definitely in the cards.
Harney: How has the pandemic affected your ability to perform live? So many artists had to put plans on hold or pivot during the pandemic to keep doing what they love -- and earn a living. How did you adjust?
Justin: It’s interesting. We have so many friends whose music careers are solely based on the touring market. For us, we’ve always had more roots in the digital world. From Spotify to YouTube, we’ve had a sustainable fanbase that’s allowed us to continue to make a living doing what we’re doing.
Slavo: Our adjusting was more making sure we were still motivated to get into the studio amidst the pandemic and all. We really had to push one another to realize that in times like this the world needs more music.
Harney: Now that concerts have resumed, have you been touring again?
Slavo: We actually just got back from a 33-city run across the US with our best friend Jake Miller.
Justin: Such an amazing experience to be so many people’s first concert back since the pandemic.
Slavo: There’s so many new fans who discovered us during these past two years. It’s been really rewarding to see them at these shows.
Harney: Tell us about the albums you’ve recorded. How many so far? We know you write a lot of original material in addition to putting your own stamp on covers. What can people expect to hear when they listen to a Fly By Midnight album?
Justin: We’ve recorded two official albums with a third coming out.
Slavo: Our albums are personal, but easy to resonate with. We cover a lot of different narratives and vibes. All have a feel-good undertone to them.
Harney: Speaking of albums, we hear you’ve got some big news to share! What’s happening on November 19?
Justin: Silver Crane, our third full-length album, will be released November 19. Really looking forward to the world hearing it. It’s been over a year in the making.
Slavo: From quarantine sessions to tour bus producing. Definitely a ride.
Harney: After what it takes to create music for and produce a new album, do you take a creative break or are you full steam ahead? What’s next for you guys?
Slavo: I don’t think taking a break is in our DNA! *laughs*
Justin: We’ve recently announced a four major city headlining tour to promote the album, and following that we’ve already got sessions lined up to write in Los Angeles, Nashville and hopefully Sweden.
Slavo: We definitely have our eyes on more ways to get back on the road too. It’s a new world for us that we’re grateful to be finding success in.
Harney: Ok, so we need to know: in the video “Borrow Your Time,” are you really standing in all that water with all that electronic equipment, or is that the magic of post-production? It sure looks real!
Justin: It’s real. We filmed it in the Salton Sea, which most people don’t know is said to be quite toxic. The sacrifices we make for art.
Slavo: The keyboard Justin is playing in the video was a brand new Korg that was sponsored for this past tour. We both were pretty nervous bringing it out into the sea, but the visual at the end of the day was worth it.
Harney: What advice do you have for aspiring musicians or artists? What do you wish you had known when you started that you know now?
Slavo: We’ve always been proponents for self-learning. Production, video editing, marketing and more.. everything’s a YouTube tutorial away.
Justin: I think everything we didn’t know then has led us to where we are now, so I wouldn’t change anything. Even the uphill battles all paved the way to being able to do this for the rest of our lives. Cool to think about.
Harney: So, are either of you a tea fan? If so, what role does tea play in your life? Do you have any rituals that involve tea?
Slavo: We both are huge tea drinkers. Especially this most recent tour, we passed through a wave of cold cities where going to the local tea shop in the morning was an everyday routine.
Justin: I think for us we’ve always been fans of food/drink cultures, and the tea world is pretty expansive once you dive in. Kind of like fashion or the tattoo community, there’s so many styles or in this case blends made from all over the world.
Harney: Do you have any favorite flavors or types of Harney & Sons tea, or anything on your list you’ve been keen to try?
Justin: We’re caffeine guys, so black tea is normally the drink of choice.
Slavo: I love the Organic English Breakfast tea.
Justin: Same. That one or the Assam blends.We can’t wait to hear Fly By Midnight’s new album Silver Crane, which is dropping tomorrow, November 19! If you’d like to download a copy, visit their website. You can listen to their music and get more FBM at their Instagram, Facebook and YouTube pages, or check them out on Spotify. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for this talented group and appreciate them sharing their story with us. All photography was provided by Justin and Slavo.
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