Atlanta singer-songwriter Tyler Lyle and Danish producer, songwriter and singer Tim McEwan came together in 2012 to form the American synthwave band The Midnight.
Since their debut EP Days Of Thunder in 2014, they have been delivering tunes infectious to emotive ballads to cater to all the sentiments we may feel.
The term synthwave has to be used loosely here as their sound is more than just that.
They have revolutionised their sound by taking inspiration from different genres and times to make it their own. What you would get from The Midnight’s sound is a nostalgic sentiment, and they have lived by their core motto that comes from the Japanese phrase “mono no aware” (物の哀れ) since they started their musical journey.
The Heroes album is the final trilogy, following the No.1 Billboard Dance/Electronic Chart’s 2018 release Kids, followed by Monsters which came out in 2020.
We can expect the Counter Records-released album Heroes with 13 songs to be a patchwork of portraits of the singles that proved to be one of their biggest and boldest projects ever.
We spoke to Tim to learn more about the makings of Heroes, how The Midnight came together and which summer blockbuster they almost got to be a part of.
We’re halfway into the year. How has it been for you guys personally?
It has been an immensely rewarding but also challenging year. But now I’m just excited that people will get to hear our new album Heroes, which we put so much work into.
Tell us about your time growing up and how it shaped the person that you are today?
I grew up in Denmark with two musicians and entertainers as parents so I was always very creative and musically inclined. All the music my dad listened to in the 1980s informed me as a person and an artist and the result is The Midnight.
How did the two of you meet and decide to form a group together?
Tyler and I met at a songwriter session (a sort of blind date for songwriters) back in 2012 and we had immediate chemistry. But it took us a few years to figure out what this fun little 80s side project was going to be.
Looking back at how it all got started, it’s amazing to think about where we’re at now and how far it’s come.
How did you land the name The Midnight as a duo? What were the other ideas?
I had a bunch of random name ideas written down on my phone and one day we were reading our ideas out loud and I had something like “The Midnight Cassettes” or something kind of cheesy like that and we both looked at each other and said “what if it’s just ‘The Midnight’ and that was kind of it.
What can you tell us about this new Heroes album? How different did you approach it this time, and what do you hope to share through this release?
Def Leppard, Bryan Adams, Van Halen and Bon Jovi were big influences in how I approached the production. A lot of Mutt Lange production techniques and really trying to build a massive sound for some of these songs.
We can’t wait to play these songs for our fans and have them all sing along.
Who were some of your earliest musical heroes, and how have they changed over the years?
A ton of Toto, Phil Collins, The Police, Michael McDonald, James Taylor and Pat Metheny. Now I listen to everything from metal to jazz to lo-fi to hip-hop to vaporwave to film scores to country music.
How do you feel your process or sound has changed since your debut EP Days Of Thunder in 2014?
Our process hasn’t really changed that much, aside from the fact that we live in different parts of the country now. It still starts with some chords and the songwriting for us.
What would be your introduction song as The Midnight to a new listener?
I’d say “Shadows” or “Lost Boy”.
What would you consider the proudest moment as a band?
Selling out Brixton Academy was a huge milestone for us.
We feel very humbled by the support from all our fans that show up to all the shows. Without them, none of this would be possible, and we never forget that.
What can you tell us about this soundtrack to a summer blockbuster that you have been working on?
We would've loved to be part of Top Gun: Maverick but they changed the direction of the music, which was a bummer but ultimately best for the film, in my opinion. Seeing the final movie I absolutely loved it and thought they made the right call in making it feel more contemporary and less specific to the 80s.
It’s just a fantastic popcorn flick with real heart. I loved every second of it.
Who are some of the new artistes that you think are doing synthwave as well as you guys?
There are so many cool artistes but, honestly, I don’t listen to a ton of synthwave anymore. I get my inspiration from outside other genres.
We love your incorporation of the saxophone. What would you say is the ultimate saxophone break in any popular song?
I’d have to go with “You Belong To The City” by Glenn Frey. That song also partly inspired the sax part in our song “River of Darkness” which we did with Timecop1983.
If The Midnight’s music were a film, what would it be?
The Breakfast Club with a cameo from The Terminator.
Having been a band for so long, what do you admire most about each other?
Tyler has endless creativity and is fearless in how he approaches songwriting. As the producer, I tend to take more of the editorial role and cutting ideas down to the bone and making it the most streamlined it can be while sticking to the original vision.
Tyler is very good at letting me explore that and going along on the journey when we hit upon something that feels exciting to us.
What do you find yourself doing at midnight these days?
Tell us a little bit about this playlist you have curated for Sound of Life.
These are songs that I’ve been listening to a lot lately and really represent my sonic palette and what I’m drawn to.
All Images: Jimmy Fontaine
Writer | Kevin Yeoh
When he isn’t making sure Sound of Life stories are published in a timely manner, Kevin enjoys wandering aimlessly in Kuala Lumpur city, going down the YouTube rabbit hole and discovering new music.