Midnight Riot — a collaboration between singer/songwriter Emily Kopp and guitarist/producer Justin Beckler — is loud, brash, and shot through with fizzy cola. It’s a project built on good old-fashioned guitar riffs, room-shaking stomps and claps, and hooks that sink so deep you’ll be humming them for weeks. They may even leave a little grit between your teeth. And Midnight Riot’s breakout track, ‘Never Coming Down,’ is no exception.
An ode to drunken nights and good-natured defiance, ‘Never Coming Down’ shimmers with youth, nostalgia, and reckless confidence. We asked Emily Kopp to give us a detailed breakdown of how this track came to life.
ORIGINS OF MIDNIGHT RIOT AND ‘NEVER COMING DOWN’:
During one of my previous licensing deals, I’d been asked to write a song to meet a particular brief. I asked my friend Justin Beckler to work on it with me, and we ended up creating something we both felt was really cool. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the sync, but we decided to keep writing for fun. Just to make music — not to express any deep emotions or anything. So that’s how we ended up starting Midnight Riot because we wanted to hone in on that. The song ‘Never Coming Down’ came out immediately after we decided to establish a cohesive band with a cohesive sound.
The idea for ‘Never Coming Down’ started with Justin’s track. He was building tracks like crazy at the time, reopening old sessions from two or three years ago, seeing what might be there. That’s our writing process for Midnight Riot. We listen to Justin’s tracks and see what’s viable. Then we stem off that. For “Never Coming Down,” it was this electric guitar part that got us started. It was super hooky. It’s that melody you hear throughout the track. We felt like it would be memorable, so we decided to align the vocal melody with it too. The vocal melody and the guitar melody are totally in sync. So right off the bat, the bones of the song were there. The drums were there, the bass was there, the theme and melody were there. Then we had to listen to what this track was telling us in terms of content and lyrics.
LEAD VERSE VOCAL STEM
Lyrics happen in three or four steps for us. It starts with ad-libbing. Just finding melodies, which often also brings some words. So we usually end up with a fully formed melody and half-formed lyrics. Then I come back for another vocal session with more fully formed lyrics, and those get tweaked slightly as the song comes together.
The lyrics for ‘Never Coming Down’ are all about swagger. The sound is very distorted; the vocals are smashed. When I heard the track, it reminded me of strutting up to a scene, feeling like you’re floating. I listened to the story the guitar was telling me. The lyrics came very quickly and naturally from that.
“COME ON COME ON” VOCAL STEM
After we laid down the main vocal, Justin was like, “Okay, I want you to sing some stuff over the top of everything.” Luckily, I knew him well at this point, so I knew what he meant. He put his hands up and was like, “Just sing come cool shit. Just do some cool stuff.” So then he presses Record, and I have a field day. We just see what happens. A lot of it was really bad. Most of it we threw out. But somewhere in there was this “Come on, come on” thing. Literally just this one moment in the entire ad lib. But we decided it was the most bad-ass part, and we repeated it throughout the entire song.
“NEVER COMING DOWN AGAIN” VOCAL STEM
Sometimes the hardest part of creating music like this is choosing the coolest takes. For example, there’s this chant, “I’m never coming down, never coming down again.” It was an ad lib too, and we had to decide what to do with it. Do we make it the intro? How long do we repeat it? If it goes on for too long, people will get bored. Those are tough decisions. Ultimately, we decided this particular chant was a great way to close out the track.
I’m certain there’s a tambourine in there somewhere. It’s subtle. It’s nothing too crazy. You might not even notice it, but it adds so much to the song. You wouldn’t believe how much a tambourine adds. It makes you bob your head; it makes you feel the track, even if you don’t notice it’s there.
Midnight Riot isn’t a project about getting out our emotions. It’s about making cool, fun music, which isn’t something we always get to do with our other projects. ‘Never Coming Down’ is one of the easiest songs I’ve ever written. It’s all about that swagger of walking up to a party and being on a cloud — just never coming down. The music brought the words. Without a doubt, it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve worked on. I hope people like it.