NYC-based brothers Harper and Abner James joined forces to create a duo called Eighty Ninety, blending organic sounds with elements of pop. The two just released an EP, giving us a collection full of emotional and heartfelt songs.
BTS: How did you start working together?
Eighty Ninety: We grew up playing music at the same time. We kind of knew we’d collaborate at some point in the future, but didn’t know where things would take us after high school. Eventually, we were both in the city and one afternoon, it just felt like the moment. We were waiting for that moment, and we were patient. That day we started working on our first single.
BTS: What does your name mean? How’d you come up with it?
Eighty Ninety: We wanted a name with no preconceived notion. We wanted it to evolve with our music to keep it open, creatively, instead of getting boxed in by a name. We ended up going with Eighty Ninety which is sort of evocative and allows people to make their own guesses. We have our favorite guesses of what people think – some we never even thought of, but they work. People guess it’s decades of music or we named ourselves after the highway that divides the country. Really, there’s an organic piece to what we do, and also a pop mathematical component. It’s a blend of the two; it’s a number but also a word.
BTS: What was the process like for your EP The Night Sky?
Eighty Ninety: It was a cool experience for us – a departure. It’s us finding who we are and what our DNA is. We worked with our friend, and unofficial 3rd brother, Gian Stone. We took energy and lessons back from working with him in LA into our own process in New York. It was a way for us to expand and push the boundaries. We sent files back and forth during the pandemic, working from various laptops. Fittingly, we finished the last 3 songs back in the studio all together.
BTS: What do you hope listeners take away from it?
Eighty Ninety: Part of the reason this became an EP and not a strand of singles is because they felt tied together by the theme and feeling that some things in life feel meant to be. It’s a push and pull idea of destiny and choice – the title track became a good metaphor for that. When you look up at the stars, you see the future is written. Destiny is written in the stars, but you can also see the infinite possibilities of the universe. With music, anything we can relate to helps and reassures we aren’t the only ones feeling this way – we hope others feel that from ours.
BTS: How would you describe your sound?
Eighty Ninety: One thing we always say is it’s based around songs. We try to create music where the music and production is being told in the songs. We change styles and genres to reflect that. We align with music that’s song and story based first, then bring the element of creative production from the pop world, but use more organic sounds and instruments to do that. We’ll chop up a guitar, re-pitch a banjo, play drums running through something that doesn’t sound like drums. We’re human made, not machine.
BTS: How have your childhoods/ personal lives impacted your music?
Eighty Ninety: We grew up around the music our parents always played. Growing up in the suburbs and country then moving to the city, we were able to find energy in both – calmer, nostalgic flavors with a gritty, intense vibe. As far as our personal lives, heartbreak always plays a big role – we’ve both had our fair share. We’ve learned to navigate through the ups and downs in life. Most people go through stuff so we use music to connect and relate.
BTS: What can we expect from you next?
Eighty Ninety: One of the cool things about closing a chapter is getting started on the next one. We’re pretty much already finished with the next thing. We want to give this EP its moment and then be ready with new music. And we can’t wait to perform it live when the time’s right.
BTS: What are you most excited for in the future?
Eighty Ninety: We really hit a stride in the studio at the end of making this record. We have songs we’re really excited about. It seems like we’re moving quicker, not agonizing or being precious about things. We’re having fun!
BTS: What final message do you want to send fans and listeners?
Eighty Ninety: Not sure if this is cliche, but thank you. We just have so much gratitude towards people that share our music with us. It’s impossible to articulate how we deeply, truly feel. Thanks for sharing this journey with us, and thanks for reaching out. It means a lot when people listen to the music. We’re all a part of this thing together. Go listen to The Night Sky!!
We can’t wait to see what else Eighty Ninety has up their sleeve. In the meantime, we’ll have The Night Sky on repeat!
Stream The Night Sky now!
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