Brothers Abner and Harper have been making music almost their whole lives. With their first single, “Three Thirty,” they formed their current project, Eighty Ninety. Receiving a spot on Taylor Swift’s, “Songs Taylor Loves” playlist, with their single, “Your Favorite Song,” the brothers have been on a steady trajectory to success. Writing and producing all of their own songs which have elements across all different genres from pop to indie rock to dance, the duo has crafted their own sound that they self describe as “808s and telecaster.”
Eighty Ninety will be playing a small in-studio show on March 30th at Douglass Recording that will be filmed and live streamed on YouTube / Facebook. You can RSVP here to go in person or RSVP here to watch the live stream.
Listen to “Your Favorite Song” here:
Cliché: How did you get your start creating music together? Was this something you both always knew you wanted to do?
Eighty Ninety: We’re brothers, and have been playing music pretty much our whole lives. We always knew that we eventually wanted to be in a band together. It’s something we talked about growing up. So unofficially, we’ve been playing together for a while now. But Eighty Ninety started when we moved to New York and began working on what would become our first single, “Three Thirty”.
I recently saw you perform at the Ludlow House. It was awesome and the crowd was really engaged! What’s your favorite part about performing live?
Thanks so much for coming to the show, and glad you had a good time! Playing live is great because it’s a chance to just channel the emotions of the songs (rather than perfecting them, which is what the studio is for). It feels great and gives us a new perspective on the music that we can take back to the studio. Because of that, playing in-progress songs live sometimes is the final step before we finish producing them. Also, nothing is more motivating and incredible than meeting the people who come to the shows. We did an east coast tour last fall and saw our first Eighty Ninety tattoo — hard to put that into words.
You’ve been receiving recognition across the industry, including Taylor Swift putting you on her playlist, “Songs Taylor Loves.” What does it all mean to you and for your continuing success?
Taylor Swift adding “Your Favorite Song” to her playlist was a totally surreal moment for us in a lot of ways. We have so much respect, admiration, and unabashed fan-love for her and her music music (Abner once saw her two nights in a row) that it was definitely a pinch-me moment and also so motivating and inspiring to keep going and trust ourselves to keep making the music we want to make. And having “Three Thirty” connect and go viral the way that it did was amazing in a different way — seeing how many people across the world have listened feels like real evidence that writing and making something so personal can resonate in a universal way. That was really moving. It would be an understatement to say we didn’t expect any of this – we’re so grateful every day.
Describing yourselves as “808s and telecasters” is such an interesting and perfect way to describe your sound. Can you tell me a little more about your instrumentation and style?
When we’re in the studio we don’t really think about genre and as a result there are elements of pop, electronic, country, dance, and indie rock in our songs. “808’s and telecasters” felt like a good way to get that across – but also highlights the two things that show up the most frequently. Live, we’re a three piece band (vocals, guitars, drums + samples and tracks) that comes across a little more rock — so that dichotomy is also in there.
You write, produce, and mix all of your songs right out of a small space in NYC. What does that process look like for you? How do your songs come to life?
We usually finish a song before we start to produce it. We think of production as doubling down on a song’s emotional core — so we need to be clear on what that is before we start producing. Once the song is finished we talk about a big-picture vision and how we imagine the song coming across. Then we’ll get down the basic (main guitar part or pad) and do vocals until they feel right. After that we slowly build up around the voice and keep pushing until we feel like it’s finished. That last part of the process sometimes takes an afternoon, and sometimes takes weeks.
Who are your own musical inspirations, and who are you listening to now?
We’re really inspired by the new artists we see around us – so those two things are one in the same. We have a constantly updated playlist called “Our Favorite Songs” (get it!) that right now has artists like FINNEAS, Muna, Phoebe Bridgers, The Band CAMINO, Yoke Lore, lovelytheband, Des Rocs, pronoun, LANY, Queue, Sorcha Richardson, Aaron Taos, Mallrat, Loote, The Japanese House. And of course Taylor Swift.
You’ve said that you love collaborating. Is there anyone specific in mind you want to have the opportunity to collaborate with, and why?
If anyone from that playlist that we just listed wants to collab in any way – our studio door is always open!
What can listeners expect from you coming up in the near future?
We’re in the final stages of finishing a new EP. The plan is to start releasing singles soon – and not to stop.
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Brother Duo Eighty Ninety and Their “808s and Telecaster” Sound, Production Process, and RSVP Link For Upcoming Show: Featured Image Credit: Mallory Turner