Photo Credit: Ashley Yu
What inspired you guys to pursue music?
We both started playing so young it’s hard to say specifically. But both of our parents are musical — our dad is a blues harmonica player and our mom plays the banjo — and they were always playing records in the house when we were growing up. So we just kind of gravitated toward it.
Can you tell us a little something about each of you?
We grew up in a small coastal town in New England, but the band is now based in New York. Abner is also a photographer and does the visuals for Eighty Ninety; Harper produces and mixes records for other artists too. We also frequently collaborate on cowrites and productions for other artists as Eighty Ninety.
What is it like being in a duo with your sibling?
We definitely have that sibling short-hand that comes from growing up with all the same reference points and so many shared experiences. It’s pretty easy to read each others’ minds a lot of the time, and that makes things pretty efficient in the studio. We got *most* of our fighting out of the way when we were younger, haha. So not too many thrown microphone stands.
How would you describe your musical style as a duo?
When we finished our first song “Three Thirty” we tried to find a genre it fit under but really couldn’t. It was this almost country-feeling song with big programmed drums and a pop vocal. So we called it “808s and telecasters” because we felt like that encompassed our sound, which includes elements from so many genres including indie, pop, dance, electronic, country, rock, and singer-songwriter.
What artists do you guys look up to right now?
We don’t even have to look up to find inspiration so much as we look around. There are so many artists doing amazing work in our circle of friends and collaborators — artists we’ve worked or performed with — including Sorcha Richardson, Aaron Taos, AE Mak, JST FRNDS, Cody Lovaas, Des Rocs, Savoir Adore, Sam Setton, Kat Saul — and if you want to get a sense of who we’re listening to you can follow our playlists “Songs for 3:30AM/PM” and “Our Favorite Songs” on Spotify.
What’s the meaning of the name “Eighty Ninety”?
The most important thing to us was that we wanted to find a name we could grow into that didn’t have any existing connotations or that would box us into one genre or style. That said, any of the associations you might have with those numbers — decades of music, liquor proofs, radio stations, speed limits, “number” bands from the 90’s haha…Any of those are fine with us.
You guys are gearing up for the release of the first single off your sophomore EP!! How excited are you guys to get this song out into the world?
We’re so excited. Since signing with our new management Hard 8 Working Group and getting off tour with Savoir Adore, we’ve just been in the studio working on the next EP. We wanted to kick off the new era with a huge sounding, cinematic widescreen summer song and so we took a big swing. The song is really about feeling forever in a single moment. It’s almost like the rest of the songs on the EP are about some of those individual moments that make up the forever…if that makes any sense at all.
What do you hope your supporters will think of the new song?
We think of music as a means to an end — the end being real, authentic human connection. (Really, we feel like life itself is a means to that end too). And so if we’re able to provide that for anyone — or even help facilitate it — we’re happy. We feel like our job is to reflect the universal by revealing the personal, and that the more authentically we can show up in our music the more it will resonate. We’re always working to be better at that.
Can you tell us how this song came about and the meaning of the song?
A summer night is our metaphor for how the person you love makes you feel — warm, excited, safe; not wanting to let go of that moment. We did some math, and 10,000 summer nights is 100 years worth of nights; an entire lifetime of that one moment.
All of our songs so far have been so personal feeling. We wanted to make a song that maintained that sense of intimacy but widened in scope. So it starts in a similar place as the past songs have — a lone voice, an acoustic guitar — but by the end we’ve zoomed out and it has turned into a huge swirling soundscape. We tried to use the music to express the building sense of longing and desperation you feel as life takes you further and further from something and someone you thought would be your whole world.
Your new EP is also coming out soon!! Can you spill any details about the new project?
It’ll be 6 tracks. All the songs have very different feels to them but are connected as part of a bigger story. Something I don’t think we’ve ever said: there is one big story running through all of our songs. You can piece it together if you listen closely enough.
Are there any other projects in the works you can tell us about?
We’re working on a song with one of our favorite artists at the moment — details to come, but it’ll be separate from the EP and will also be out this summer.
Why do you think social media is so important for singers today?
We said earlier that music — and all of life — is a means to human connection. Social media can definitely be a tool for that and we love connecting with fans that way. It allows to say thank you directly to the people listening to our music; it’s a cliche but without them we wouldn’t get to wake up every morning and do what we love. We have a literally bottomless amount of gratitude toward them. The whole thing still amazes us.
What social media platform do you use most to stay connected to your fans?
The best way to hear our music is to follow us on Spotify — but Instagram is a great way to connect. We’re @eightyninety8090
How do you want your relationship to be with your fans?
As musicians it’s hard not to worry that you’ll make something, throw it out into the world, and it will just disappear. Since we released our first song we’ve felt like there is a real audience for what we’re doing, and that feeling has changed our lives. So we make music for them — and we hope they can feel that. We also try to respond to / repost every comment and tag so come say hi!
What’s an average day like for you guys?
Depends on what phase we’re in — recording, touring, etc — but if we’re not on tour we’re either in the studio all day working on new music or rehearsing. We also collaborate with other artists on records; sometimes cowriting or producing. Right now we’re pretty much working on finishing our new EP all day every day.
Do you have any last things you want to tell your supporters?
It’s gonna be a fun summer.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview 🙂