When The Midnight Brings The Light

Charming audiences with their debut tour in India, US-based synthwave band ‘The Midnight’, talks about their music and its nostalgia factor

Published On Mar 07, 2024 | Updated On Mar 08, 2024


One of the most ironic things about life is feeling a sense of nostalgia for something one may never have experienced. It in fact is so curious that it also has its own word. Anemoia was coined by American writer and neologist John Koenig in 2012. Coined by American author and neologist John Koenig in 2012, which incidentally happens to be the same year ‘The Midnight’, the US-based synthwave band, was founded. 

Atlanta-based Tyler Lyle and Los Angeles-based Tim McEwan, who’s of Danish origin, met at a workshop in 2012 in North Hollywood, and the two paired up and wrote two songs. ‘WeMoveForward’ and ‘Gloria’ — on a side not, the two numbers are brilliant — and that is what pretty much marked their foray into the world synthwave/synthpop. These two singles went onto become part of their EP, titled ‘Days of Thunder’, in 2014. 

The band — Lyle says how surprised they were to see the turnout at their India gig — was in India recently, a series of shows organised by Skillbox. After performing at Supersonic in Pune, they dropped by Bengaluru, throwing a high-energy show at Gylt (yes, that is how it’s spelt) where a small auditorium, packed with people between 19 to 50 years of age who knew almost every song, danced wherever possible and looked positively thrilled to not have missed this concert.  

A young man behind me was on his toes for the nearly two-hour-long show and explaining the magic of ‘The Midnight’ to his mother. Endearing. 

Now let’s talk about the music. Synthpop is or rather was a microgenre of electronic music. A result of the early 2000s, it’s dominated by the use of a synthesizer (if the name was not a dead giveaway). But what’s most interesting is the fact that this music draws inspiration from movies from the 80s, focusing mostly on horror, sci-fi and so on. 

Therefore, for a layperson, Synthwave, which is no longer really a microgenre, it’s music that was born in the 2000s, but will remind one of the 80s. The irony of it is that one may never actually have seen the 80s but yet will feel a sense of nostalgia when they tune in. Thus, anemoia. 

In a quick interview after the show, Lyle and McEwan told us how the two found their way to Synthwave. For McEwan, who has grown up in the 80s, it was the 80s and the music his father used to play. “What I compose will definitely some Danish influence as well, given that that is where I grew up. Plus of course, it's heavily influenced by shows and movies of the 80s, which is what pretty much gave birth to synthwave as a genre of music,” he says. 

For Lyle it was just the music. He was already a fan of French House, which incidentally casts a big influence on synthpop, so veering towards it was rather natural. “I am a big fan of Kavinsky,” he says. 

With three hours left on the clock for them to pack up and hit the airport for their third leg of the concert — the band was visiting the northeast next — the two told us how they ended up in India to begin with. “We had been getting queries for a while, but the logistics never worked out. This time, it did. The organisers took a leap of faith, we took a leap of faith and here we are. We really never thought we’d have so many people showing up for our shows,” Lyle says. 

“But… after confirming the India concert, we noticed a spike in the analytics, there definitely was interest. However, it still is as surprising,” McEwan adds. 

Ask them what makes synthpop, well, pop, and they’ll tell you what most good musicians will. “Music always comes back. What was popular once, might fade, but then it will find a way back. It’s just that you won’t find it in its original form, there will always be some tweaking, some modernisation, but the familiar chord will remain,” they say. 

McEwan goes on to explain how while composing, he’s felt that. “I would be writing something, or putting together a tune and realise that I have heard something like this before. That’s where the sense of nostalgia comes in. That’s the magic of music,” he says. 

The band, which is known for tracks such as “Los Angeles” and “Sunset”, has a busy year ahead, with international tours all over. “We’re touring Poland for the first time too!” Lyle chips in, the excitement in his voice is quite hard to miss. 

But it’s not just music, The Midnight is up to. Recently, a graphic novel, “The Midnight: Shadows” was released. Written by popular comic book experts, Zack Kaplan, Stephen Thompson, Jahnoy Lindsay, Thiago Rocha, DC Hopkins, David Legnon and Raymond Swanland, the novel is a sci-fi adventure inspired by the sounds of the band. “It was so interesting!” Lyle says, “I happen to know Zack. But how the book happened is that our booking agency told us they also had a book agency working with them and they were quite interested, and given that I already knew Zack, we just decided to go ahead. It was quite something.” 

Also, if you’ve ever wondered why the band is called ‘The Midnight’ it’s because the two were playing with names. “We came up with The Midnight XYZ, The Midnight ABC, but could never find the right one. And we were in a hurry! We were going to start a Twitter account and realised we didn’t have a name. And then we decided to drop the extensions and just call it ‘The Midnight’,” McEwan says. 

There’s also new music in the pipeline for The Midnight. “We have put some tracks together but not yet the album. It will happen. In fact, I have stepped down from tours just to focus on producing music,” McEwan says, “Sometimes, you need to make that call when you are part of the creative process. Let the band sing, travel, and you stay back to make the music happen.” India, incidentally, was McEwan’s last tour. Till he changes his mind of course. 

Photo: Wikipedia; Instagram/themidnightofficial