Interview conducted by our favourite four-to-the-floor expert, The Insider.
Midnight Magic, the nine-piece New York outfit, have just released a piece of unearthed NYC disco history, care of Brooklyn’s Razor-N-Tape, in the shape of I Found Love. Lead vocalist, Tiffany Roth, talks to me about their humble beginnings, how she prepares for a live performance, being on a tour bus with a band full of blokes, and their seminal dance-floor smash, Beam Me Up.
Hey Tiffany, how’s it going?
Hi! It’s going pretty good. How are you?
I’m very well thank you for asking. Where are you today, what are you doing?
I’m at my home in L.A,, and I’ve just finished recording a 1 hour DJ mix for Hoxton Radio.
How did Midnight Magic first begin?
Midnight Magic first began in L.A. when I met Morgan Wiley. That was the genesis. He and I started making music, but it really formed after he moved to New York and met our future bandmates at The New School. He sold New York to me as having a very special music scene, so I moved to there in 2005 and we started Fidelio which soon morphed into Midnight Magic. We truly became Midnight Magic in 2008.
Who were the original band members?
The original band members were Andrew Raposo, Morgan Wiley, Carter Yasutake, Jason Disu, Nick Roseboro, Max Goldman, Andrew Frawley, Caito Sanchez, and me.
Is the band line up the same today?
No! Things have changed. The band line up today is Andrew, Carter, Caito, Nick, and me, but now with Julio Monterrey, Izaak Mills, and Mayteana Morales.
What parts does everyone play, just for the record?
Andrew—Bass, Carter—Keyboards / Trumpet, Julio—Alto and Tenor Sax, Izaak— Tenor and Baritone Sax, Mayteana—Percussion / Backing Vocals, Caito—Drums, Nick—Trumpet, with me on lead vocals.
First you were Fidelio. What was the reason for the name change?
When we first started as Fidelio, we were still exploring, and hadn’t found our sound. We were working with different artists, and things hadn’t really taken shape. We reevaluated and streamlined, becoming inspired by the disco and house that was becoming the musical zeitgeist in New York. We finally focused on a genre which was more disco-like. Once we started heading that direction, we re-named ourselves, and thus birthed Midnight Magic.
What was the inspiration for the new band name?
Midnight Magic, came from playing with the song title, Midnight The Stars and You as performed by Ray Noble and His Orchestra on The Shining soundtrack. That song haunted me, and I love the title. After throwing around band name ideas in Andrew’s kitchen late one night, he blurted out ”How about Midnight Magic as a band name?” I was hesitant but was talked into it. Now I love it!
What’s it like constantly working with a load of guys Tiffany. Do you ever crave another female band mate or is it just like working with a load of big brothers?
Working with all the guys in the band is actually amazing! They are my brothers. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve traveled to lots of places, and have been through so many different scenarios—which I feel has really cemented us together. For a few months now, we’ve welcomed our second female member of the band! Mayteana Morales! It does feel wonderful to have fellow woman in the band! She’s a powerhouse of talent. She plays percussion and sings back up vocals like you wouldn’t believe!
Who are the band members who supported with Hercules and the Love Affair, out of interest?
That would be Andrew, Morgan, Carter, and Jason.
And you sang with LCD Soundsystem, is that right?
I had the distinct pleasure of being a backup singer alongside the incredible Lizzy Yoder for LCD Soundsystem, for their ‘last 5 shows’ including the ‘farewell’ show at Madison Square Garden in 2011.
Do you remember the Midnight Magic’s first live performance?
I do! It was sometime in 2009 at a coffee shop in Brooklyn called Café Grumpy. I remember the lighting being very harsh and fluorescent, and the gig being pretty awkward!
You must have a pretty big tour bus for the gear and nine people. Is touring a chaotic – but fun – affair?
We usually stuff ourselves into a van, and it can be uncomfortable and smelly, and people get cranky, but it’s actually so much fun! I love being on the road.
How do you personally prepare for a performance, are there any rituals you keep before you go on stage?
My ritual consists of primping! No, but seriously, as I put on my makeup and curl my hair, I warm up vocally and I set my intentions. Hoping and praying for a warm reception. Reminding myself that the point of this is to hopefully contribute somehow. Help create the musical backdrop for celebration. Be a reminder to others that you can be your weird ass self and to celebrate yourself!
How does the band, prep for a live gig?
The band preps before by rehearsing a bit. Drinking a touch. Getting loose. Getting excited!
Do you get nervous before you perform or are you guys old hats at that these days?
I do get nervous before. I feel the adrenaline pumping!
At what point in the band’s life did you make the move over to production?
Production always came first, then the live show.
What was your first release?
The first release was Beam Me Up – put out by Permanent Vacation. They found us on MySpace!! Beam Me Up has become our bread and butter. We’ve had the great fortune of having the song used in a couple of ads, which has helped in so many ways!
Beam Me Up was first released in 2010, and then again 10 years later on Razor-N-Tape. So good you played it twice?
I suppose?! We wanted to celebrate the single, which has been good to us, and the remixes are a-plenty and sooo good!
How do you make decisions as a band? Is it a hectic process, does someone take the lead, or do you have a democracy?
It’s all of these! It’s hectic, it’s a democracy, but in the end, I believe we figure it out.
Although inspired by the disco and funk sounds of the `70s, your music transcends time. Why do you think that is?
Thank you! What a major compliment! If you write from a place of truth, hopefully it comes out timeless. If you chase a trend, or a template, it may date your music.
As a vocalist, who are the female singers that you look up to, past or present?
There are so many!!! My mother, Mariah Carey, Aretha, Diana, Grace Jones, Patrice Rushen, Lollise Mbi, Nina Hagen, Nomi Ruiz, Kate & Lola of 79.5, Janet, Gwen Guthrie, the ladies of The B-52’s, Connie Francis, Etta James, Patsy Cline….the list is endless….
I Found Love, you certainly found a great track there in your dusty archives! Why did it take so long to release?
Long story short, we tried releasing it years ago, it was almost released, then was forgotten about, and we dusted it off and tried again, this time it worked!
How far back do you go with Razor-N-Tape?
We met JKriv when he was playing with Escort about 8 or so years ago. We started working with Razor-N-Tape in 2021, when we released the Beam Me Up remixes with them.
There are some very heavy remix names in the new package. I guess you’re thrilled with these interpretations?
Beyond thrilled!!! YES! Getting remixes from Derrick Carter felt like gifts on Christmas morning!
I see you’re playing in the Razor-N-Tape shop soon. How on earth will you fit all the band in?
I honestly don’t know! Everyone’s super busy with other projects, jobs, kids, etc. and only a couple of us DJ anyway. It may just be lil ol’ me.
Where you’re not touring or making great music, where would we find you Tiffany, and what would you be doing to relax?
You can often find me DJing in Los Angeles, sometimes New York. You can also find me haunting thrift stores, looking for vintage treasure. Relaxing looks like walking our doggie, or watching some kind of horror movie, binging a series, or curling up with a book.
Midnight Magic’s I Found Love – featuring remixes from Dimitri From Paris, DJ Rocca, Sophie Lloyd, and Perel – is out now on Razor-N-Tape.