What are your names?
We’re brothers: Abner and Harper James
What is the band’s name?
We’re called Eighty Ninety.
What is your genre of music?
We named our genre “808s and telecasters” because we borrow from a lot of different genres including indie, pop, electronic, country, dance, rock, and singer-songwriter. We feel like those two sounds — the sound of an 808 kick and Nashville’s favourite guitar — pretty much encompass that range.
Give us a little bio about you both.
We’ve played music our whole lives. When we were in high school we made a pact to move to the city and be in a band. We spent a long time writing songs and teaching ourselves how to produce them. When we had a song we liked enough to release (our first single “Three Thirty”) we came up with the name Eighty Ninety and put it out. We spent a couple of months emailing music blogs and the song ended up on Spotify’s new music playlist Fresh Finds. Soon after that it was #2 in the world on Spotify’s Global Viral Chart and our heads were spinning (still are). We got a live band together and put out our first EP, Elizabeth. Last year, Taylor Swift added our single “Your Favorite Song” to her playlist “Songs Taylor Loves”. She’s been a huge inspiration as a writer and artist for years – so we’ll never get over that. Now here we are, preparing to release our second EP!
What made you go into music?
We both started playing music when we were four or five — so it’s hard to remember exactly. But our parents are musical and (according to them) they played us the Beatles every day when we were toddlers.
You released your new single ‘10K Sumer Nights,’ tell us more about the single.
10K Summer Nights is the first single from our upcoming EP and we wanted it to also work as a mission statement for the rest of the project. Our first EP Elizabeth was so personal and intimate feeling. “10K Summer Nights” begins in that space but by the end transforms into this widescreen cinematic moment. So in that way this song connects the dots between where we’ve been and where we’re headed
What is the meaning behind the single?
With 10K Summer Nights we wanted to communicate how something as personal as love can feel so big that it takes up your whole universe. How what starts as a feeling between two people comes to define the way you experience the world — and how even one moment can feel like it stretches into forever. With that in mind we intentionally produced it to start small — just a voice, an acoustic guitar, and a heartbeat kick drum — and slowly become maybe our biggest sounding song yet.
What was the writing process like?
We wrote a first draft on the piano and brought it into the studio, where it transformed a fair amount as we figured out the best way to produce it. Certain chords led to lyric changes, lyric changes helped us find the right arrangement. It was a very organic process.
Who did you work with on the single?
The two of us wrote / produced the song, Charlie drummed on it and our brilliant friend Andrew Maury mixed it.
Will we see a music video for the single?
Yes! We’re planning a multi-platform video – you’ll have to watch them all to get the full story. It’s a little ambitious but we’re excited to try something new.
Listen to 10K Summer Nights below
You’re also going to release an EP, what can we expect?
We feel like our first EP was a sketch of our sound, and now we’re filling it in. The songs are more expansive and cover more sonic and emotional territory. We joke that the genre of the first EP was “bedroom arena” because we produced like a bedroom pop record but the songs have arena aspirations. The songs are a bit bigger this time — we’re calling this one “living-room arena”.
What else can we expect in 2019?
Lots of music, collaborations, and shows!
Do you have any collaborations coming up with any other artists?
We do! That is something we’re very excited about. But we may have to save the reveal for our next interview…
Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you?
Yes, absolutely! Hit us up on socials and let’s make it happen.
Do you play any instruments?
Harper’s main instrument is the guitar and Abner’s is the piano. But we both can play guitar, keys, bass.
Who are your influences?
We grew up loving classic songwriters but also studied jazz pretty seriously. The improvisational element of jazz really informed our process as writers and in the studio — learn a set of rules and then break them trying to do something exciting.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
A lot of times a song will start as a feeling that there’s something you need to express. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes you need to sit with that feeling for a while and see what comes up. But unless you have a perfect life there’s always something to reflect on or something you need to work through. Songs come when that emotional build up breaks the surface of your subconscious and demands to be heard and dealt with. All of our songs are very personal.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 years?
Five years ago the only thing we could have predicted is that we’d be making music. Everything else has been an incredible surprise that we’re so grateful for. So let’s stick with that: recording and playing music, thankful that we have the opportunity.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
Sleep! Music takes up a lot of our time, haha. We also do most of the visuals for the band — videos, photos, artwork, merch design. We write and produce for other artists as well. Collaboration is crucial for inspiration. If you only work on your own thing 24/7 you can start to chase your own tail.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more into the music scene?
Abner: When I was four my dad got a Tom Petty greatest hits CD and kept it in the car. He said that he used to drive me around to help me fall asleep until he realized that what I liked was the song “Learning To Fly”, not the car ride itself. But I didn’t understand that I could listen to it anywhere else.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
That there’s no one point you get to in your career where someone will swoop in and say “great job, we’ll take it from here”. If you want something, you have to make it happen.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
We’re still figuring things out. But if we had to offer a piece of advice it would be to try and make your favourite record, not the record that you think will be anyone else’s favourite. You’re just as valid a listener as anyone that you make up in your head. Much more valid, actually, because you’re real.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
Not a quote exactly — but as soon as pressure, a sense of obligation, or strategy outweigh fun, excitement, or creativity, take a beat and reorient.
Your coming off tour;
1/ Where do you go first? – to sleep!
2/ Who do you see first? -we get along pretty well but after all those days in a packed car with the same people, we take some solo time to recharge.
3/What do you eat first? -something healthy, tour can be rough in that department.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
new strings (in case Harper shreds too hard)
water bottle (in case Abner belts too hard)
name of the city you’re in (just kidding)
to tell the audience your band name (seriously) ffffffffdf