Songwriters Justin Bryte and Slavo, better known as indie-pop band Fly By Midnight, have taken on quite a lot with the music video for their latest single “Lost Without You.” The creative duo have always combined forces directing their videos, but with a global pandemic, as well as their first foray into visual effects, this time around they faced brand new challenges. Featuring the emotional vocals of Swedish pop singer Clara Mae, “Lost Without You” tackles the intense feelings of wanting to rekindle the love of a past relationship. The duo is no stranger to writing about romance and the emotions that come with it, with songs like “Love Me Like a Friend” and “Drove You Away” among their most popular with fans. Rich in smooth harmonies and raw emotion, the song tells a love story deeply personal to the duo but endlessly relatable for anyone listening.
We caught up with the band to talk all about the new video premiering today on The Untitled Magazine as well as their recent move to Los Angeles. Watch the video above, and check out the full exclusive interview below.
What was the inspiration for your new single “Lost Without You?” Did you take inspiration from a personal relationship from either of your pasts in writing the song?
Slavo: We wrote “Lost Without You” with Sophie Simmons on a writing trip last year in LA.
Justin: Slavo started laying down some chords and production vibes while Sophie and I were talking about previous relationships. It was the first time we had met so I remember being a bit coy on the subject, but that’s the beauty of collaborating; you’re kind of forced to talk about those things.
Slavo: I think the longingness of the song really captures what we’ve all felt for someone at one time or another.
How did Clara Mae get involved with the song? I understand you had to work with her remotely as she is based in Sweden?
Justin: Fast forward a year later and we’re in quarantine. We had never met before, but on a whim I sent the song over to Clara’s co-writer and close friend Cassandra.
Slavo: Before we knew it they had asked to change a few lines to a feel a bit more personal and then sent Clara’s vocal over. The idea of creating remotely could have been a real challenge especially being how important it was to capture that emotion on the track, but Clara’s performance felt so genuine. It inspired us to actually re-record our vocals to connect to hers more.
You shot and directed the entirety of the “Lost Without You” music video by yourselves. Had you ever taken on a project like that before? What was that process like? Tell us about your choice of the desert location?
Slavo: We’ve actually always been in the director’s chairs of our music videos. Justin and I typically sit down and storyboard what we want the video to look and feel like. For this shoot we brought on our good friend Russell Tandy to DP and assistant direct as well.
Justin: I remember calling our production team and being like “hey everyone, I know the world is shut down but Slavo and I have been building this 8×12 foot green screen for two days and we want to make a video. Who’s in?”
Slavo: We’ve taken on projects this size before, but never one that involved visual effects. I edit our videos as well so working back and forth with our visual effects homie Shandy was a new challenge.
Justin: I think from shooting in 103 degree weather in the desert to then coordinating Clara’s shoot in Sweden, we’re definitely stepping outside of our comfort zone. That’s the sort of decision though that keeps everything feeling fresh and inspiring. We wanted the video to portray this disconnect that comes with a relationship that isn’t quite over. The desert felt like the perfect place.
Judging by your discography, relationships and romance seem to be topics you are very comfortable writing about. What draws you to these subjects?
Justin: We’ve been best friends for about six years now so we’ve seen each other go through different relationships and waves of meeting new people. It’s something we’re comfortable discussing and reflecting on in a writing room.
You describe your music as “retro-pop.” What is it you love about retro music that you want to bring out through your songs? Which musicians have inspired you most over the years?
Slavo: “Retro-pop” was a tag we had embodied early on with the project, but I’d say over the past year or so our music has definitely leaned more towards indie-pop. We’ll always continue bringing nostalgic elements to our music, but I think that combination with modern sound has been our latest creative turn. There’s so many great songwriters we’ve been inspired by. I’ve always been a fan of Billy Joel’s storytelling ability.
Justin: For sure. Other bands like Duran Duran & The Smiths really inspired my mindset of coloring outside of the lines a bit. We’re always thinking how can we push this song to still feel universal, but also a bit left of center.
I noticed you are wearing a Lana Del Ray t-shirt in the video for “Lost Without You?” – what inspired that? Is she one of your musical muses?
Justin: I love her latest album Norman F*cking Rockwell! and I’ve been wanting to show love to another artist in a video of ours. I have to be in an emotional headspace to listen to her music, but wearing that shirt kind of took me there for the video shoot.
What are you hoping listeners’ will takeaway from “Lost Without You” and its video?
Slavo: Sometimes it’s just more complicated than a relationship working or not working.
Justin: Agreed. We’re not supposed to fully understand everything at the time either.
Do you plan to shoot/direct any more videos by yourselves?
Slavo: Yeah, we’re just as passionate about that side of Fly By Midnight as we are about the music so I don’t think that will ever take a backseat. We’re also looking forward to bringing on more collaborators for the next videos we have planned to continue to push ourselves.
Originally you are from Staten Island, New York, but recently you relocated to Los Angeles. What was it like growing up in Staten Island? I understand your friendship started in High School?
Justin: So I’m born and raised in Staten Island.
Slavo: I moved to Staten Island from Florida about 7 years ago. We met at a studio out there.
Justin: I was actually in college at the time when we first started Fly By Midnight. A lot of people think our friendship started in high school or even before that, but we really met as music collaborators first.
Slavo: Staten Island was the hometown of Fly By.
Does your hometown of Staten Island inspire your music at all?
Justin: It did. Slavo and my best friends all still live there so a lot of our earlier music was made with them coming through to the studio to hear what we were working on. Now we text demos to them all the time.
How has being based in LA differed from Staten Island so far? What made you decide to move?
Slavo: We knew LA would open us up to more music opportunities, but more importantly we wanted to be inspired. Meeting new people and experiencing new things all has reflected in our latest music.
Justin: We also had done a three month writing trip to LA last year that led to collaborating with Betty Who on our track “Lovely,” as well as writing on several other really special projects. During our last week out here our manager called us and said “you know you have to actually move here” and we haven’t looked back.
Is there a particular philosophy you live by as musicians?
Justin: There are 24 hours in a day so I only say I worked all day when I really worked all day.
Slavo: I’m just always striving to get better in my craft. Constantly learning and growing.
Are there any upcoming projects in the pipeline we can look forward to from Fly By Midnight?
Justin: We have a project we’re writing that’s based around more collaborations.
Slavo: The idea of crossing over to different genres is something we’ve been wanting to do more of so we’re excited to give our fans something new.