The Midnight

From The Midnight Wiki
The Midnight logo.png
The Midnight in 2023
The Midnight in 2023
Background information
OriginLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres
  • Synthwave
  • Rock
  • Americana
  • Electronic
Years active
  • 2012-present
Labels
  • The Midnight Music
  • Silk Music
  • Counter Records
MembersTim McEwan
Websitethemidnightofficial.com

The Midnight is an American synthwave duo based out of Los Angeles, California, composed of producer Tim McEwan and vocalist/guitarist Tyler Lyle. The band formed after McEwan and Lyle met during an arranged co-writing session in the spring of 2012.

The Midnight debuted in 2014 with the release of their first EP, Days of Thunder. This was followed by their first album Endless Summer in 2016, after which the duo became firmly established within the synthwave music scene. Nocturnal was released in 2017 and saw The Midnight explore a darker, more noir sound. A trilogy series of albums began in 2018 with Kids, continuing with Monsters in 2020 and Heroes in 2022. The latter two records were noted for moving the band's sound in a different direction and saw them exploring additional genres outside of synthwave. During the trilogy, the band also released the Halloween-themed EP Horror Show in 2020.

The Midnight performed their first live show in 2017 and have regularly toured since. Known for being lively and energetic, The Midnight's shows have seen increased production value over the years with continuous additions of touring members and live instruments. The band has also made appearances at several notable music festivals, including Austin City Limits, Music Midtown, and Bonnaroo.

With several appearances on Billboard charts, The Midnight have been one of the most commercially successful synthwave acts. Their music has also appeared in various media forms, including video games, podcasts, and TV. Since the release of Monsters, they have been signed with Counter Records, an imprint of Ninja Tune.

Career

2012-2014: Beginnings and Days of Thunder

Prior to forming The Midnight, Tyler Lyle and Tim McEwan were both established musicians. Lyle was an indie-folk singer-songwriter based in the state of Georgia and gained initial notability with several self-released titles, becoming regionally and nationally known. McEwan was a drummer and producer based in Denmark, later becoming a member of the Danish production group Deekay who has written and produced songs for many popular artists.[1]

Lyle and McEwan in 2014

The pair met for the first time in 2012 at a songwriter’s workshop in North Hollywood organized by Katie Donovan, Lyle’s A&R representative at the time.[2] Before meeting, McEwan had listened to some of Lyle’s previous work and liked Lyle’s folk sound. Despite differing musical backgrounds, they bonded over a mutual love of 80s rock and began to write songs together. After initially struggling to define their sound, McEwan suggested that they compose songs in the synthwave style. McEwan had previous exposure to the genre and was inspired by the movie Drive. The first song they wrote together was WeMoveForward.[2][3]

After the initial meeting in 2012, Lyle and McEwan continued writing and recording together over the next two years. In March 2014, Lyle announced on his Twitter that iAmData (McEwan's moniker at the time) and himself were starting a band called "The Midnight".[4] According to Lyle, the name came from McEwan and himself throwing out random names until they found one that stuck.[5] Other band names that they considered were "Lightyears", "Temporary Tigers", and "The Midnight Tigers."

Original logo, used primarily from 2015-2017. Still used on occasion

The Midnight created their first social media accounts in early 2014 and began teasing an EP, which would prove to be Days of Thunder. Released on July 15, the EP was profiled on electronic music site DRIVE Radio and continued to gain traction on Reddit throughout 2014 and 2015.[6][7][8] An official description included with Days of Thunder described The Midnight's sound and philosophy:[9]

There is a Japanese term: Mono no aware. It means basically, the sad beauty of seeing time pass - the aching awareness of impermanence. These are the days that we will return to one day in the future only in memories. How do we capture them? How could we possibly be able to fully appreciate them in the present? This project is our attempt to put time under glass. The Midnight is a marriage between a songwriter from the Deep South and a producer from Denmark who both live in Los Angeles. The songs were written in North Hollywood and Santa Monica over two years and represent the first fruit of The Midnight. This is our love song to our city and a testament to the weight these years can hold.

2015-2017: Endless Summer, first live shows, The Midnight Remixed, and Nocturnal

The Midnight's first live show

The Midnight began work on a follow-up to Days of Thunder in 2015. Teaser clips of songs being worked on for the record were posted to their social media accounts throughout the year. In August 2015, McEwan said on social media that a new record was still several months away, expressing a desire to "push the envelope on the synthwave genre".[10] A new song, The Equaliser (Not Alone), was released on the DRIVE Radio compilation Selection Volume 1 in March 2016.[11]

Following the release of the singles Sunset and Vampires in May and June, the next The Midnight record was revealed in July 2016 to be a full-length album titled Endless Summer and was released on August 5, 2016.[12] Expanding on their efforts from Days of Thunder, Endless Summer received positive reviews from online media outlets and garnered the band new exposure within the burgeoning synthwave community, with songs like Sunset and Jason becoming staples of the genre.[13][14][15] Jason in particular is notable for being The Midnight's first collaboration with singer-songwriter Nikki Flores, who would continue to collaborate with the band in the years to come.

The success of Endless Summer established The Midnight as one of the top acts in synthwave and was the precursor to a busy 2017 for the band. Early that year, they began planning their first-ever live show to capitalize on their ubiquity in the synthwave space. While McEwan had previously done some DJ sets in 2017 under The Midnight name, they had yet to do a live show that featured Lyle as well. Announced in May 2017, the debut show was co-headlined with fellow synthwave titan FM-84 and took place at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco in July in front of a sold-out crowd.[16][17][18][19] The show was also notable for the introduction of Jesse Molloy as the band's first live saxophone player, a role he would continue to have until 2022.

Nocturnal promotional poster

While planning the live show, The Midnight also began work on their next record. The band shared a clip from a studio session with Nikki Flores in February 2017 and several weeks later McEwan shared that he was writing songs with Lyle in New York City, Lyle's home at the time.[20][21] A new song from the unnamed record was played at the DNA Lounge show, and clips of new songs continued to be shared throughout the summer. During this time, a remix album was announced in July from the label Silk Music, who had previously released remix singles of WeMoveForward and Days of Thunder in 2016.[22][23] The release of The Midnight Remixed in August was a significant milestone for the band, as it was their first album to be associated with a label and the first to appear on a Billboard chart, peaking at number 22 on the Dance/Electronic Albums Chart.

Also in August 2017, The Midnight's new album Nocturnal was officially announced. Crystalline was released as its only single in September, followed by the album's release on October 13. Featuring collaborations with Nikki Flores and Timecop1983, Nocturnal was noted for having a considerably darker sound compared to previous The Midnight offerings and received mostly positive reviews from critics.[24][25][26][27][28] Synthwave news site NewRetroWave chose it as their top EP of 2017.[29] In addition to being the top-selling album on Bandcamp for more than a week, Nocturnal also charted at number 17 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums Chart and later peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Heatseekers Album chart in 2018.[30][31][32][33][34]

The Midnight ended 2017 with another sold out live show in November. Co-headlining with FM-84 again, the show took place at the Globe Theatre in Los Angeles and featured Nikki Flores live with the band for the first time.

2018-2020: Kids trilogy begins, touring, second remix album, and Monsters

Shortly after the release of Nocturnal, McEwan revealed that The Midnight's next record was already in development, describing it as a more "summer feeling" EP that they expected to release in the spring or summer of 2018.[35] While work commenced on the new record, the band did a small tour of three shows in March 2018 in the cities of Chicago and New York City. In April, The Midnight's first official tour was announced for the fall, with 18 shows planned across North America.[36][37] Strong ticket sales prompted The Midnight to announce their first European shows in June, which would take place in the spring of 2019.

A setlist from the Fall 2018 Tour

In May 2018, The Midnight were featured on the Timecop1983 song Static from his album Night Drive. New singles Lost Boy and America 2 appeared in July and August,[38][39] and later in August the next The Midnight album was confirmed to be Kids.[40]

Released on September 21, 2018, Kids showcased a more upbeat and lighter tone compared to Nocturnal. The album received more mixed reviews compared to previous The Midnight offerings.[41][42][43][44][45] While most reviewers praised the overall sound and aesthetics of the album and credited the band for continuing to evolve the synthwave genre, others viewed it as sounding "too commercial". The album was also noted in most reviews for its short length and lack of saxophone, which had become a ubiquitous element of The Midnight's sound on previous releases.

Kids garnered the band more commercial success, debuting at number one on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Album Sales chart, number 12 on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart, number two on the Heatseekers Albums chart, and number 13 on the Independent Albums chart.[46][47] Kids would be the first release in a trilogy series of albums for The Midnight that continued with Monsters in 2020 and concluded with Heroes in 2022.

The Fall 2018 Tour commenced in September and was a major success for The Midnight, with almost every show selling out. The first show took place at the North Coast Music Festival in Chicago, which was the band's first music festival appearance. In October, more North American dates were announced for the Spring 2019 Tour, which would supplement the previously revealed European shows. The tour began in February 2019 and featured The Midnight's first appearances in Europe and Australia. Work began on the next entry in the Kids trilogy during the tour, and previously teased America Online was released as a single in May.[48]

Performing during the Fall 2019 Tour

The Fall 2019 Tour began in August 2019 and saw the band perform 38 shows across North America and Europe. The November 12 show in London was The Midnight's 100th live show.[49][50] The tour was notable for the addition of Lelia Broussard to the live band as guitar player. She has remained with the touring band ever since and has also contributed to the writing and production of several The Midnight songs. Several new songs were played during the tour, including Brooklyn, Seventeen, and Monsters, which were all confirmed to be on the upcoming album. In September, Silk Music released The Midnight's second remix album, The Midnight Remixed 02.[51] Preceded by the release of three new remix singles, the album was another commercial success for the band and the Silk Music label, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums Chart.

In March 2020, the world was struck by the COVID-19 pandemic and The Midnight sought to keep fans engaged during stay-at-home orders. A weeklong remix competition took place during the last week of the month, with stems being made available to download for the songs The Comeback Kid, Los Angeles, Explorers, and River of Darkness to remix. Over 500 remixes were submitted and the winners were revealed during a livestream on YouTube in April. A new acoustic version of The Comeback Kid was also released at the end of March, with all proceeds going to support members of the band's tour crew.

In May 2020, the single Deep Blue was released and Monsters was revealed as The Midnight's next album. Dance With Somebody and Prom Night followed as singles before the album released in July. The album was their first associated with the label Counter Records.[52] Noted for moving the band's sound in a different direction and expanding its horizons, Monsters received mostly positive reviews from critics.[53][54][55][56][57] Also obtaining commercial success, the album charted at number 134 on the Billboard 200,[58] number 12 on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart,[59][60] and number 18 on the Independent Albums chart.[61]

2020-2021: Horror Show, Endless Summer anniversary, and return to touring

Continuing their efforts to maintain fan engagement during the pandemic, The Midnight began an alternate reality game (ARG) in September 2020. Using a mix of digital and real-life clues, fans across the globe united online in an effort to solve mysteries and unlock prizes. In early October, one of the prizes revealed an upcoming online concert, The Midnight Online. The concert took place at the Libbey Bowl in Ojai, California and was streamed live on October 30, 2020. This concert was notable for the addition of Royce Whittaker to the live band, who is one half of Jupiter Winter alongside fellow tour member Lelia Broussard. When The Midnight resumed touring full time in the fall of 2021, Whittaker was made a permanent member of the touring band.

The ARG concluded with the announcement of Horror Show, The Midnight's second EP. Initially exclusive to Amazon Music, the Halloween-themed EP was released on October 16[62] and was noted for having a darker sound reminiscent of Nocturnal. Four of the six tracks on Horror Show were co-produced with electronic musician Essenger, and the EP also included a cover of the Patti Smith Group song Because The Night, the band's third collaboration with Nikki Flores. Horror Show would get a full release to all platforms on March 19, 2021.[63]

Performing during the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 Tour

In early 2021, McEwan began streaming the creation of new The Midnight songs on Twitch. One of these songs was Cold Pizza, which released exclusively on YouTube on February 9, 2021. The release was timed to commemorate National Pizza Day and was accompanied by a promotional website for the in-universe restaurant Pizza Zone. The song was further promoted with the sale of new merchandise featuring the Pizza Zone logo.

The second remix competition also took place in February 2021. This time, the stems of every song from Monsters were made available for purchase to remix for the competition. The stems for the song Deep Blue could be downloaded at no cost. Submissions were open for three weeks, from February 5 to Feburary 26, and were reviewed live on Twitch the following week by McEwan and Lyle. The overall winner was the Droid Bishop Remix of Deep Blue, which was released as a single in September 2021.

The fifth anniversary of Endless Summer was celebrated throughout the summer of 2021. On June 24, a 5 Year Anniversary Edition of the album was released that contained two new songs, Bend and Comet. While Bend was previously made available as a download to people who pre-ordered the first vinyl pressing of Endless Summer in 2016, Comet had only been heard previously as a small snippet on The Midnight's Facebook page. The Rearview Mirror was released on July 23, an EP containing five songs from Endless Summer remade with orchestral arrangements performed by the Magik*Magik Orchestra.[64]

Shortly after the release of Monsters, dates for a European tour in Spring 2021 were announced. The shows would later be postponed to 2022 in January 2021 due to continuing COVID concerns. In April 2021, the first dates of the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 Tour were revealed, which were all in North America. More North American shows were added in June and were scheduled for Spring 2022. It was The Midnight's first tour since the Fall 2019 Tour and the first since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a desire to increase production value and create a more authentic live show, Royce Whittaker was added as a full-time touring member following his initial appearance in The Midnight Online, and McEwan began performing with a full drum kit. The addition of Whittaker gave The Midnight a five-piece touring band for the first time. All of the European dates except for the UK and Ireland were ultimately canceled in March 2022, with COVID concerns again being the culprit.

2022-present: The Heroes era, festival shows, and first live album

Work on the next The Midnight record began in earnest in 2021, with McEwan continuing to stream and tease new songs on Twitch. A new song, Change Your Heart or Die, began to be played during the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 Tour and was released as a single in April 2022. The single was accompanied by the announcement of the Change Your Heart Tour, which would take place the following fall and spring. A second alternate reality game began at the end of May and continued through the beginning of June, concluding with the release of Heartbeat as a single and the announcement of Heroes as The Midnight's next album.

Billboard in Los Angeles promoting Heroes

Avalanche, Brooklyn. Friday. Love., and Heart Worth Breaking followed throughout the summer as the next singles from Heroes, which was released on September 9, 2022. Serving as a conclusion to the Kids trilogy, the album received positive reviews from critics, who commended the band for continuing to explore new genres and compared the sound favorably to the work of musicians such as Giorgio Moroder and Mutt Lange.[65][66][67] It appeared on a total of seven Billboard charts, most notably the Billboard 200 where it peaked at 134.

The Change Your Heart Tour began in September 2022 and featured the band's first appearance at the Austin City Limits music festival in October. Streamed live on Hulu, it was The Midnight's most notable festival appearance to date and their first to be streamed online. During the festival, the band was interviewed for the first time by notable American music magazine Rolling Stone. The Midnight capped 2022 with a small DJ set tour, playing four dates in the US with Lyle at the helm.

Lyle during a promotional show for Red, White and Bruised: The Midnight Live

In February 2023, The Midnight announced their first live album, Red, White and Bruised: The Midnight Live. The album was first released exclusively on vinyl in April as part of Record Store Day 2023 and received a full release to all platforms in September. At the end of February, Land Locked Heart was released as a promotional single from the soundtrack of the video game Road 96: Mile 0. The Midnight embarked on the European leg of the Change Your Heart Tour in March, the first time since 2019 they performed in Europe outside of the UK and Ireland.

The Fall 2023 North American Tour was announced in April 2023. Following two performances at Bonnaroo in June and a Los Angeles show in July, the tour began in September at the Music Midtown festival in Atlanta. In October, The Midnight performed in Mexico for the first time since 2019. The band opened for ODESZA on their The Last Goodbye Tour show in Mexico City followed by an appearance at the Live Out music festival in Monterrey.

In August 2023, Lyle mentioned in an interview with Substream Magazine that there is yet to be a timetable for the next The Midnight record, but hinted that some non-music projects are in the works.[68] More live shows continued to be announced in the fall, with stops in Australia and India planned for early 2024.[69][70] It will be The Midnight's first time performing in Australia since 2019 and their first time ever performing in India. In January 2024, a graphic novel that takes place within The Midnight universe was announced. Titled The Midnight: Shadows, the graphic novel will be released by Dark Horse Comics in October of the same year.[71][72] Planning for the graphic novel began in the fall of 2020 and will mark The Midnight's first foray into a medium outside of music.

In February 2024, The Midnight announced via Instagram that Tim McEwan will step away from doing live shows following the conclusion of the tours in India and Australia.[73] He cited the struggles of balancing his personal life with touring, producing, and the other responsibilities involved in the day-to-day operations of The Midnight as his reason for departing. McEwan will continue to serve as The Midnight's producer. In the statement, he noted that he was in the process of finishing The Midnight's next album.

Style and workflow

For most of their career, The Midnight has created a strong and distinct synthwave sound in their music - Tim McEwan once described the band's early albums "as if Miami Vice had a baby with a John Hughes movie."[74] However, McEwan has continuously expressed a desire to evolve the synthwave genre and not be confined by it.[74][75][76][77][78] Tyler Lyle has stated several times that the band's philosophy when composing is "combine, not confine."[75][76][79] Influences of genres such as lo-fi, soft rock, trance, and vaporwave can be heard on Monsters,[76][75] and Lyle's musical background has brought influences of indie folk and Americana to the band's sound as well.[80] Regarding the merging of their individual talents and styles, Lyle has said:[81]

It’s rock and roll with synthesizers. Tim has a keen ear for production, and I can write songs that fit comfortably within the tradition of 20th century classic pop songwriting. Somewhere in the middle things get interesting.

McEwan employs various digital synths in his production, including Serum, Diva, TAL-U-NO-LX, Spire, and Roland Cloud's Jupiter 8 and Juno 106.[74] In mid-2020, he mentioned that his favorite synth to use at the time was U-He's emulation of Prophet-5, known as Repro 5.[75] McEwan has stated that he commonly begins with presets and then tweaks them to his liking.[75] KONTAKT is used for sampling.[82][83] In 2020, both Lyle and McEwan started adding more analog equipment to their audio setups.[84][85][86][87][88][89][90][91][92][93] In early 2021, McEwan shared that his current home studio consisted of the following equipment:[94]


Both McEwan and Lyle use Logic Pro on macOS as their primary Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).[95] Universal Audio interfaces are used to capture their sounds, which are then processed using UAD plugins.[96][97] Using the same utilities makes it easier for them to share session files as a significant amount of their work is done remotely, due to living in different areas of the US.[98] However, they will usually get together in the same room a few times during a release's production and will often write and record together while on tour.[99] A release's sound and overall direction are generally created by the two bouncing ideas off each other - McEwan will send Lyle a rough track or beat, which Lyle will then think of lyrics and a title that would go good with the beat, after which McEwan will further build and produce the track.[100] McEwan has stated that the production of a typical The Midnight album takes around three to six months, "from the early gestating part to finish."[101]

Synths, drums, and overall production are handled by McEwan, with Lyle providing guitar, lyrics, and vocals. Lyle has stated that he writes on a daily basis,[102] and many lyrics come from a large number of fragments he keeps stored in Evernote.[103] During a fan question-and-answer session on Twitter prior to the release of Monsters, he mentioned that he "wrote about 250 songs between 2016-2019" and "20 something of those songs got properly demoed/ realistically considered for Monsters."[104] Regarding his general writing process and how he writes for The Midnight, Lyle has said:[105][106]

I write The Midnight lyrically (mostly) as the fantasy that I never experienced. I lean a bit utopian sometimes and let the images get grander than I experienced. I was on the debate team. I had a lisp. I was really into Syphon Filter. The fun is in the make believe.

I write everyday. Some of it goes in The Midnight folder. Some of it goes off into far far away places. It works best when Tim has a cool musical skeleton and I have a cool lyrical skeleton we can smush together and build together.

Most of the remaining instrumentation is digital,[107] but on occasion songs (including most with saxophone and guitar solos) will at first have digital instruments that are then outsourced to other musicians to play live on the track. Thomas Edinger has been the primary saxophone player for The Midnight's releases, and McEwan's brother Oliver has frequently played bass for the band as well.

For live performances, various setups have been used by the band. Lyle stated that the Spring 2019 Tour utilized an Ableton rig, with McEwan using an SPD SX sampling pad and MIDI controller.[108] Lyle ran his guitars through a Kemper profiling amp, and he also used an OP1 for certain synth moments and pads. Most shows will also feature live bass, acoustic, and electric guitars, as well as live saxophone. As of the Change Your Heart Tour, the band's touring lineup consists of McEwan on synths and drums, Lyle on guitar and synths, Lelia Broussard on bass and synths, Justin Klunk on saxophone and synths, and Royce Whittaker on guitar and synths. Lyle is the primary vocalist and the others perform backing vocals. Klunk joined the touring lineup for the Spring leg of the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 Tour, replacing longtime saxophone player Jesse Molloy, who had been with the band since their first live shows in 2017.[109][110] Broussard joined the band prior to the start of the Fall 2019 Tour[111] and Whittaker joined the lineup full-time during the Change Your Heart Tour. Nikki Flores occasionally appears at some shows as a vocalist, performing her collaborations with the band in addition to singing vocals on Sunset.

Members

The Midnight's current touring lineup: Tyler Lyle, Royce Whittaker, Tim McEwan, Lelia Broussard, and Justin Klunk.

Current members

  • Tim McEwan (producer, songwriter, percussion, synths, occasional vocals)
  • Tyler Lyle (songwriter, lead vocals, guitar, occasional synths)

Touring members

Occasional/past tour members

Discography

Main releases

Tours and live appearances

References

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External links