The Pop Duo Reveals Their Inspirations and Pre-Firefly Festival Thoughts
Fly by Midnight, the retro-pop duo from Staten Island, is about to release their latest single, "All the Feels," along with prepping for their upcoming Firefly festival slot.
This brand new song is bound to be one of the essential feel-good anthems of the summer — and the boys had some serious fun with it.
Fly By Midnight
Popdust caught up with the duo right in the midst of all their travel and growing popularity to find out more about their inspirations, reflections and upcoming projects.
1. How does the journey feel so far from where you guys started?
Justin: I mean, it's crazy. I think when looking at our career together, which has probably been about three years now, the progression within the last six months has been quicker than anything's ever been. Everything's happening super quick and we couldn't be more grateful.
Slavo: It's insane to see that from day one, we really haven't backtracked at all or had a moment where we were like "Oh, I regret that." It's all part of the journey and we've always had moments where we see progression, and like Justin said, these last last six months have been a crazy jump. We're very grateful and super excited for what's to come.
Justin: I think especially with the shows coming up — we're headlining New York City and L.A. and we're playing Firefly Festival. We're doing everything ourselves. We're not with a label yet, we're not with a booking agency. We're just two dudes in a studio on Staten Island and what we've been able to accomplish thus far we're really proud of.
2. What inspired your latest single, "All the Feels?"
Slavo: Justin and I sit down together and write a lot together and one night, we were looking on Spotify, and Justin saw that there's a playlist called "All the Feels." Obviously that phrase has been coined over the past few months, and we thought it'd be pretty cool to write a song about it. And whatever we wrote, it was just around the idea of that specific Spotify playlist. You can easily make the song about intimacy and loving someone, but we kind of just made it about your everyday cup of coffee — things that make you smile, just random stuff.
Justin: When we wrote the song, Slavo and I were in a really good place with our careers, our lives, our friends and family. It's really just a very general song about feeling good and we really wanted that to resonate with fans. I think it's such a positive record.
3. Who picked the funky outfits?
Justin: You know what's funny about the outfits — we tried to do something that's super out there because obviously it's a narrative video. We were going for, initially, something that was medieval looking, like French apparel. Slavo came across a Google search of a guy — what was he wearing?
Slavo: Like George Washington, basically.
Justin: Yeah, it was like with a wig and stuff. It was extreme and we didn't even know if we could get our hands on that so we ended up going for something that was a little more modern.
Slavo: People comment on our YouTube videos all the time and they're like, "How long does it take for you guys to figure out your outfits?" It's funny because it was probably just an hour long conversation and scrolling through some web pages — we pointed to what we wanted and ended up wearing it in the video.
Fly By Midnight
4. What's your songwriting process like?
Justin: I think it varies from song to song. It's always a lot easier coming through a session when it's not exactly a real story, but a real feeling that we can emote into the song from our personal lives.
Slavo: I remember we were jamming out to melodies which was the first thing that started ["All the Feels"]. One of the things for us is that we get super excited about something, like we're going to like it and want to release it, and this was one of those things, especially when we heard the melody and just the vibe of the piano and the chord progressions.
Justin: We always know. At the time when we wrote the song, we knew we were going to release it next. We actually had something on deck that we wanted to come out but then we were like, "All the Feels" has to come out ASAP because we felt so strongly about it.
5. Are you guys nervous to play at Firefly?
Slavo: We don't really have time to think about it really, we have so much going on in our personal lives. Sometimes if I do think about it, I'll get very excited and I'm sure on the day of, I'll be extremely nervous.
Justin: Yeah, we're just very excited for everything right now. Before the show, there are definitely nerves — but the good kind, like the kind that keeps you on the tip of your toes, instead of going to the bathroom and throwing up.
6. How did you get the slot and what did you feel when you first heard about it?
Slavo: It's funny, the story behind getting this Firefly gig — big shoutout to ReverbNation. They've actually hooked us up with a lot of gigs. They're a big supporter of what we do and we really appreciate them and everything they've done. But this specific incident, Justin was like "Yo, I submitted this thing a while ago [to Firefly]." We've never really heard of Firefly, but it was kind of cool. Within the next eight weeks, we realized we were moving up the ranks and eventually top five. We realized we needed to get serious about this because we might win.
Justin: When you get an email saying you're playing at the biggest festival on the east coast, I thought it was a scam. We told our fans to vote for us and it's a cool feeling — there's a lot of politics and a lot of major label artists at these festivals. But for us, it was really fan-driven and I think that says a lot about our fans and how passionate they are about our project.
7. What's next for the group?
Slavo: For us, we're always making music and writing. Our journey right now is trying to figure out if we want to keep being independent or find a label, which is pretty exciting but also pretty stressful. The most important thing is to make sure our fans know we appreciate them and to keep making content. In this era, you have to keep making music and keep putting out content. For us, it's obviously very fun to make content so it's a very exciting time. That's our journey and we do whatever we can to keep the fans happy.
Justin: Yeah, more music, more videos, more everything.
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
We're glad they're on our side.
The world is up against a seemingly insurmountable threat, but luckily, we've got a crack team of heroes on the case.
Sure, there's already the girl with super strength, the guy who can fly, and the anthropomorphic, trash-talking animal tailor-made for merchandise. But this is a threat of intergalactic proportions, and we're going to need all the help we can get if we want to survive.
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