Sound Off: Eighty Ninety
May 25, 2020
When we think about Eighty Ninety, the first thing that comes to our mind is talent and love. When you listen to their songs, you can feel the passion in their voices and know that everything they made was thoroughly analyzed.
Coming from a family in which music has always been very strong and present, we couldn’t expect less than harmony, energy, and purity.
This Sound Off is very special because we can feel the love for music and storytelling that this duo has, and we are certainly sure you will feel the same after reading their interview and listening to their songs.
1. We have to start this off by asking, how did you get the band name? Are these the decades you were born in?
One of the things we decided early on is that we would keep the origins of the band name to ourselves.
Mostly because we love all the guesses we’ve heard (including decades, speed limits, radio stations,
liquor proofs, eras of music, references to other bands, interstate highways), and feel like they’re all true.
2. Did you grow up in a musical household?
Our mom played banjo and our dad is a self-taught blues harmonica player, so there was always music in the house. Neither of us remembers the moment music became important to us because it feels like it has always been there.
3. Tell us about the new single “Know Me”.
“Know Me” is a song about how meaningful relationships anchor us when things get hard, and how the smallest moments between us can be the most significant over the course of our lives. We wanted to make the song feel both intimate and huge to reflect that and so we kept the verses really quiet and personal and tried to make the choruses feel big and expansive.
4. You guys were hand-picked by Taylor Swift for her official Spotify playlist?! How did that happen?
Abner: We still honestly have no idea! We were as surprised as everybody else. We are HUGE Taylor fans, and so we saw her playlist when she posted it. I literally screamed when I realized we were on it and Harper ran in from another room to see if I was OK, haha. We’re such big fans of her storytelling —
with her melodies, lyrics, and productions — and to feel like she connected with a song of ours still feels totally unreal.
5. How did you learn the production aspect of making music?
Harper: At first it was just being in bands and not quite being able to communicate with other producers and engineers what we wanted things to sound like. So we started doing it ourselves — the recording,
producing and even, eventually, the mixing. Of course the first attempts were a little rough around the edges, but we felt like at least there was a kind of authenticity and honesty to it. From there it was just rinsed and repeat. I have taken it a step further and work professionally as an engineer and producer with other artists. I think some artists like us are into the world-building of production, and others would rather focus on the writing and the performance elements of it and leave the production to a
collaborator. I think either way is valid. We just have fun making sounds.
6. Describe your sound in 3 words?
808s and telecasters.
7. How did growing up in Brooklyn have an effect on your sound?
We were born in Brooklyn and a lot of our family is in NYC, but we spent most of our childhood in a
small town on the coast of Maine. There’s a line between a contemporary pop sound and an almost country/Americana sound that we end up walking in a lot of our songs. It’s not exactly intentional but feels reflective of having lived in both places.
8. What is the dream you guys have for your music?
We’ve done East Coast tours and one-off shows out West, but the idea of playing night after night across
the whole country (and beyond) is something we’ve always dreamed of.
9. What is a goal musically you’ve already reached?
We feel so lucky that writing, producing, and performing has become our life. Growing up, that’s all we really wanted.
10. How has your sound changed/progressed since your breakout single “Three Thirty”?
In “Three Thirty” we explored a lot of different sounds — pop, country, electronic, singer-songwriter —
and as we’ve continued to make music, we’ve tried to go deeper into each of those genres without losing the mix that makes us who we are. A song like “Dream” has an almost dance-feel to it, whereas
“Know Me” is more pop/Americana. We try to tie everything together with our more minimal sensibility and a cohesive emotional perspective (and, usually, some shade of nostalgia). When we’re working on a
new song, our question is less “does this sound like Eighty Ninety” and more “does this feel like Eighty
11. If you weren’t making music right now, what would you be doing?
Abner: I went to film school, so probably I’d be trying to write scripts and direct movies. And music supervising them in my head.
12. What is something you wish you got asked more? (feel free to answer)
We’ve had great experiences with interviews. We consistently get questions that make us rethink or reframe a song or theme in a way that’s useful and cool (for example, in this interview when we were asked how our sound has changed since “Three Thirty”).
13. Can you tell us a secret?
We finished an entirely new four-track EP this week. It’s the first record with a writing/producing
14. What does popular mean to you?
When we think of “popular” we think of something that a lot of people connect with. Of course, as artists, we hope people connect with our work, but that only matters if the work is coming from an authentic place. It sounds like a cliche but we believe pretty strongly that if we stay true to ourselves,
we’ll be popular with the right people.
15. What other upcoming projects do you have coming up?
The secret’s out as of two questions ago! We’ve just finished an entirely new EP in LA with our good friend — and an incredibly talented writer/producer — Gian Stone. It’s a new sound for us: bigger, more widescreen (to borrow some film school vocab). We’re really excited for people to hear!
All of the “Eighty Ninety” songs are available on Spotify and Youtube – that you can listen HERE and HERE. Don’t forget to follow them on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter), so you can get updates on what they are doing and their love for music!