INTERVIEW: Eighty Ninety

Who are Eighty Ninety?

Eighty Ninety are a Brooklyn based duo consisting of brothers Abner and Harper James. I stumbled across them on Alfitude and immediately loved their debut track Three Thirty.

Luckily for me they agreed to do an interview for the blog!

Take a listen to their track, tell me if you don’t agree that there are going to be great things coming from them and then let’s hear from the guys.

Obviously you are brothers and grew up together but how long have the band been together?

We’ve been working on EIGHTY NINETY for about three months—but grew up playing music together.

Never a quiet moment in your home growing up then so how would you describe your current sound?

It’s kind of a hybrid of all the music that we love. That includes brit-pop, indie rock, country, americana and hip-hop. If we have to narrow it down we might say we’re making 808-country. That term maybe gets at what happens when you combine Nashville-style guitars, pop drum programming and a more traditional songwriting sensibility.

Okay, I think that makes sense 🙂 Tell me – what is Three Thirty about?

The realization that moments — and not the story you tell yourself about a relationship — are what’s important. They can continue to have meaning for me, even after the relationship is over.

Now we are getting very deep!

Eighty Ninety, Three Thirty – that’s a lot of numbers! How did you come up with the band name?

Numbers are cool because they don’t carry baggage. We wanted a name that looked good on paper, but also would be a blank slate that we could grow into as we develop a sound. That being said, for us it does have some fun connotations: high speeds, decades that we’re drawing our musical influences from, liquor proofs…

My interest soared at liquor proofs!

Who are your musical influences?

Harper is really into following the work of specific producers almost more than bands. He really digs Ethan Johns for his organic approach to making records (Ryan Adams, The Staves, Kings of Leon). He’s also a huge fan of Ariel Rechtshaid, who knows how to seamlessly integrate programmed pop and live tracked organic music. He’s known for his work on the recent Vampire Weekend, HAIM and Brandon Flowers records.

I love great songwriters. Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, Noel Gallagher, Paul McCartney, Brandon Flowers.

OH — and we both legitimately love Coldplay, Taylor Swift, John Mayer, and Drake.

Are there any arguments in the band between you and your brother?

Oh, never 😉

Why do I not believe you?

What’s on your MP3 player right now?

I generally lean to more pop than Harper, but collectively: The 1975’s new record, Arctic Monkeys, Kurt Vile, Twin Shadow, Grizzly Bear, Ryan Adams, JB’s Purpose, Maren Morris is killing it. Third Eye Blind and David Bowie’s Black Star.

A few new ones on me – thanks for the recommendations!

What’s the best gig you have played?

EIGHTY NINETY is so new we haven’t played one yet, but we’re definitely planning on it. We DJ’d a high school graduation last summer and I’m pretty sure we introduced them to drops, and we felt like the Beatles arriving in America.

Haha – oh well, if you are ever in Scotland I’m sure you would love the crowds here.

I like to know the number one song when people were born – what was the number one song in the charts when you both were born?

Like a Prayer – Madonna (for me)

Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna (for Harper)

Now I feel old – thanks but what a spooky coincidence (seriously I did not plan this) that the next question is…

Is Madonna still cool?


Correct answer!

What’s your favourite song lyric ever?

“All you need is love”

What next for the band?

We’re finishing our EP, and if people dig it enough we’ll take it on tour. We’re also collaborating on a track with Harper’s studio partner Gian Stone, who is a great producer.

We wanted to give a shoutout to the artist (and our good friend) Alina Corbett, whose brilliant photographs we’ve used for our artwork.

Photo by Alina Corbett

Thanks guys for answering my questions and good luck for the future, I’ll be listening intently!

If you want to keep up to date with EIGHTY NINETY then check them out…

Twitter: @eighty_ninety_
Instagram: @eightyninety8090