The Midnight Beast, a comedy music trio from London, is taking social media by storm. Since their YouTube parody of Ke$ha’s popular “Tik Tok” went viral in 2009, the group’s YouTube subscribers and video views continue to rise quickly. Read on as The Midnight Beast (Stefan Abingdon, Dru Wakely and Ashley Horne) discuss their self-titled comedy series airing now on E4, their thoughts on being a DIY band, and their advice for other independent artists.
Without using “conventional” genre words, describe your sound.
Dirty electro pop fused with lyrical silliness I guess.
Since your parody of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” went viral in 2009, you’ve generated an incredible YouTube following, with over 300,000 subscribers and over 51 million video views. To what do you attribute the success of the growth of this social channel?
I definitely think that all social networks are changing the way artists interact with fans and it’s really helping gain exposure for newcomers. For us, YouTube in particular at first was vital to our growth. It’s funny because we didn’t really plan the Tik Tok parody to go so viral but with the power of the interweb it just got passed around so quickly. I think if YouTube didn’t exist we would definitely wouldn’t have had the same amount of exposure.
Congrats on your self-titled comedy series for E4! How did the show come about? Were you approached? Did you pitch the idea?
Thanks! Well it was actually our agents/managers Rachel and Cathy Mason who first put the idea to us quite early on. They knew some of the good folks over at channel 4 so we got to have some meetings and start talking, which was awesome. Then a bit later down the line we met Warp Films too, which is where the journey of our show started.
How does your music fit into the show?
So we have 2-3 music videos in each episode of the show and they each kick in at different points, kinda taking the viewers by surprise. We definitely wanted the videos to just jump straight out of a scene and kick in so they kinda help compliment a particular scene that you just watched.
How does your writing process work? Do all band members contribute?
Writing the songs happens in numerous different ways. We certainly all get involved but usually Stefan will take the main reigns as the songwriter. He’ll sometimes come up with the skeleton of the song and Ash and I will jump on to help funny it up, or sometimes Stef and I will work on a beat musically together and then we’ll all hook up and write to it. It’s a pretty exciting process as sometimes one of us will even just come up with a subject matter, like ‘Strategy Wanking!’
Do you ever incorporate ad-libbing or improv into your music?
Our stuff tends to be quite structured when it comes to writing and recording music. Perhaps with more of the rappy/hiphoppy styled tracks we tend to do a few takes ad-libbing under the main vocals but that’s as far its goes improv-wise. For live shows we also tend to keep it quite structured, but we’ll at least leave room or map out in rehearsals where one of us can go on tangent.
You’ve got a big tour coming up in October. Do you incorporate non-musical elements into your live shows?
I think we pride ourselves on making the live shows very upbeat and full of energy for fans. We have a very responsive fan base so we like to keep them jumping around, and as each tour has grown, we’ve incorporated new musical elements and visuals. I think it’s harder for us to dip the show to a point of no music, but, with that being said, we do like to take a “quiet” minute in between songs to say hi to each city.
You seem like a very hands-on band; you release music from your own record label, and you’ve written and produced music from your bedrooms. Would you recommend this DIY-type style to other artists?
Definitely! We would never come out and say that this is the best and only way people should do it, but we have found it best suits us. I think it’s so nice to not have to fit any kind of label moulds and work to a particular structure like some artists do. Acts like that usually have to depend on certain chart positions for singles and albums, and it’s just nice not to worry about all that. We’ve always said if we got in the charts then awesome but that’s not our aim at all.
What advice would you give other independent artists?
I think just to stay strong with it and persevere. Know what you want and what you want to do and don’t let people change who your are or what your band/act is. Definitely don’t feel you have to fit a mould!
What can fans look forward to next? Another season of your show?
Another season? Who knows! Things are definitely in the pipeline and you can certainly expect some more videos coming at you! Right now though we’re just working on getting ready for our October tour ‘I Kicked A Tour In The Face Tour,’ and also putting the album out.