Interview With Eighty Ninety

Words by Pankhuri Bhutani
Photography // Eighty Ninety – press.

In just a short span of time, these two brothers have won the hearts of many people by their soulful and euphoric music. Going by the name “Eighty Ninety”, the duo of immensely talented brothers, Abner and Harper James have released some unskippable and extremely addicting tracks. Recently releasing their brand-new song “Happier”, the brothers have indeed made all of us happier by giving us such a beautiful song to distract ourselves from the unfortunate scenario we are currently facing at the present moment. 

Garnering around 100,000 Spotify listeners on their profile, the duo also was successful in catching the attention of global sensation Taylor Swift when one of their tracks grabbed a position in Swift’s personal Spotify playlist- “Songs Taylor Loves”. 

We caught up with the brothers regarding their music journey as we discussed the process behind the track, their reaction to seeing their song in Swift’s playlist and their plans on future projects. 

Hello there! Thank you for joining us on Peachy! For the people yet to be introduced to your music, kindly tell us something about yourself!

Hi! Thanks so much for talking to us. We’re brothers. We grew up in a small coastal town and now make music we call “808s and telecasters”.

You are about to release your new track “Happier”. Congratulations on that! How was the creative process like with the song?

Thank you! We’re really excited about “Happier”. We actually made this song at the very last minute when we were finishing an EP with our good friend and collaborator Gian Stone. The quarantine had just begun and we were all feeling kinda heavy with that sense of isolation and loss, missing the people we couldn’t be with. Those feelings inspired the song, which we all made it together remotely and entirely over zoom — and the process itself helped us feel less lonely during those first weeks. It was a really great experience to have, especially in that moment.

Listen to “Happier” below:

Did you face any sort of challenges during the production stage of the track? If so, how did you overcome them?

The song was originally just the acoustic guitar part and the vocal, and we were concerned that over-producing it would take away from the intimate, personal feelings we wanted to convey. So, we really just added a little bit at a time, making sure that any new elements emphasized the song’s message — rather than distracting from it — until the track felt finished.

How did the name Eighty Ninety come into existence? Was there a specific idea behind the name?

We love the different ideas that people have so much that we’ve decided not to reveal what we were thinking, for the time being at least. We’ve heard speed limits, liquor proofs, decades of music, radio stations, highways…we like them all.

What kind of reaction are you hoping to receive from your fans regarding your new single?

It was a comforting song to make for all of us for the reasons we mentioned earlier — we hope that it has that same effect on our listeners. We want to make songs that are there for people when they need them.

When it comes to song writing, do you both require a specific setting to write your lyrics in or are you both easily adaptable?

Songs can come at any time, and we try not to make rules. Often ideas for lyrics or melodies will come in a totally random moment — and then the mission becomes preserving the inspiration until we can find a quiet place and a guitar to get it down and maybe even finish the thought.

What was your initial reaction to having your track in Taylor Swift’s Spotify playlist “Songs Taylor Loves”?

I (Abner) was sitting on a couch in the studio lounge when I saw it, and I screamed, and Harper came running out to see if everything was OK. We are huge Taylor Swift fans (Abner once saw her two nights in a row — in 2010!) so it was genuinely one of the greatest moments of our lives. The thought of Taylor listening to our song is absolutely mind blowing and surreal. It will never not be!

Is there anything that the fans can expect from your forthcoming projects/collaborations?

We made an entire EP with our good friend and — ridiculously talented — writer/producer Gian Stone (Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5). “Happier” is just the first of those songs, which we plan on releasing very soon!

Lastly, is there anything you wish to convey to your fans and supporters from around the world?

This has been a hard time for people all around the world. We’ve really tried to make music that can be a source of comfort and maybe even a new world to escape into for just a little. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to make music in the first place — and the people who listen to our music make that possible. There’s just no way we can express the depth of our gratitude. It’s a cliché, but it’s true!

More by Pankhuri Bhutani 

Instagram // Twitter // Online portfolio