Pop-electro duo Eighty Ninety is back with the brand new single “10K Summer Nights”.
The self-produced pop single captures the feeling of being young and hopelessly in love.
“To us, the image of a summer night evokes the feeling that you can do anything, be anyone, but also that you’re safe. Ten thousand summer nights is a hundred years’ worth of those nights. A lifetime with that person,” explains the band.
Abner and Harper James opened for Des Rocs in Brooklyn, toured with Savoir Adore along the East Coast and made their SXSW debut. Their smash single “Your Favorite Song” was added on Taylor Swift’s playlist "Songs Taylor Loves" and was remixed by American pop duo Loote.
Signed to Hard 8 Working Group (Billie Eilish, Finneas) the New-York based artists will be releasing their new EP later this year.
“10K Summer Nights” is now available worldwide.
Introduce yourselves - where are you from?
We’re brothers — Abner and Harper James. We grew up in a small coastal town in Maine and live in New York.
What's the band's story?
We’ve pretty much always worked on music together. Eighty Ninety happened when we liked one of our songs enough to produce and release it. That song was “Three Thirty”, our first single. We posted it and started emailing as many blogs as we could find that we thought might like the sound. It ended up in front of someone at Spotify who added it to their new music playlist “Fresh Finds”, and then a week or so later it was #2 in the world on Spotify’s global viral chart. Our minds were completely blown (still are). Since then we’ve been releasing music and touring, and are currently preparing to release our second EP.
At what point did you know you had to form a band?
We’ve both played music our whole lives. But when we were in high school we made an official pact that we would one day move to the city and start a band. We did this (in retrospect questionable) thing where we spit in our hands and sealed the vow with a handshake. We still can’t remember where we got the idea to do that or that that was even a thing. But it made the promise feel serious at the time, and we’re not going to second-guess it now.
How would you define Eighty Ninety, the band?
Eighty Ninety is what happens when we both pursue the things that we want to hear — when we’re trying to be our own favorite band. We ask ourselves: What’s our dream record right now? What do we want to hear? Let’s (at least try to) do it. Miraculously, we rarely disagree on direction because we tend to focus on slightly different elements. Though we’re both involved in the writing and producing, Abner is a little more focused on writing and Harper is a more hands-on producing. So when it works we have a great dynamic where each of us gives the other the thing they need to really do what they’re passionate about. But we’re always making sure there’s still a single vision.
How did your sound evolve since your first EP Elizabeth?
Elizabeth was so intimate — the songs, the production choices, the arrangements — were very personal feeling and made to feel like you’re in the room, right there with us. We joked that Elizabeth’s genre was “bedroom arena” because we produced it a bit like a bedroom pop record, but the songs and melodies had these arena aspirations and sensibilities. With “10K Summer Nights” and the rest of the new music, we wanted to see what it would feel like to inch a little bit more towards that bigness with the production and songs - maybe call it “living room arena”.
How did the Loote remix of "Your Favorite Song" come about?
We are huge fans of Loote — they create these immaculate, hard hitting productions that also have these gorgeous songs that would sound equally beautiful on an acoustic guitar. We’d never had a remix done before but felt like “Your Favorite Song” has an understated pop element that would be fun to amplify. Loote was our absolute top choice to flip it. Thankfully, between collaborations with artists like Shawn Mendes and David Guetta (!!!) they said yes.
Why do you think "Your Favorite Song" got so much attention?
Music has defined so much of our lives and relationships — it’s hard sometimes to separate songs from some people, times, and places in our lives. I think a lot of people can relate to that. With “Your Favorite Song" we were trying to tap into that feeling, and also write a song that was lyrically and melodically universal enough to maybe even be that song for the right person. Taylor Swift is another artist who writes about the way music ingrains itself into our lives (Tim McGraw, Our Song, Blank Space, Teardrops on My Guitar) and we like to think that maybe she added “Your Favorite Song” to her Spotify playlist “Songs Taylor Loves” because it resonated with her and then her fans for similar reasons. That will forever be one of our biggest “pinch me” moments. We couldn’t believe it, and still can’t.
"10K Summer Nights" is your new single. What's the story behind this song?
With “10K Summer Nights” we wanted to capture that widescreen feeling of being young and hopelessly in love. How everything around you - from the stars to the sky to the busted headlight on your car - seems to reflect that love and intensity of feeling. To us, the image of a summer night evokes the feeling that you can do anything, be anyone, but also that you’re safe. Ten thousand summer nights is a hundred years’ worth of those nights. A lifetime with that person. A lot of this EP grapples with those ideas; how a person, place, and time can feel infinitely big and also so finite — you want to just count the moments and hold onto them forever.
When did you start working on this particular song? Could you describe to us the songwriting/production process?
We knew from the beginning we wanted “10K Summer Nights” to be big. It’s the first time we brought in real (non-programmed) drums to our process, and we really thought of the production as a story — we start out very close and small with just a vocal and acoustic guitar. But we slowly zoom out, until by the end it’s this huge amorphous band making a swirling hurricane of sound; our attempt to capture the almost desperate feeling of wanting to hold onto love forever.
What do you like the most about this song?
We wanted to make a song that felt like a journey where you arrive somewhere much different than where you start. We’re really happy with how it came out. Hopefully it resonates with people in that way too.
What made you want to release "10K Summer Nights" as a single?
We feel like “10K Summer Nights” lays the groundwork for the rest of the EP. The way it progresses from being so small to pretty huge — both lyrically and musically — makes it a good introduction. Kind of an overview of what’s to come.
What can you tell us about the artwork for this song? Who did you work with?
We love the artwork for this song — it’s a photo taken by our good friend Rid Burman. He is an incredible artist and editorial photographer. We sent him the song and asked if he’d be willing to let us use one of his photos for the cover, and he generously agreed. He nailed it and we’re in love with how it turned out. We used handwriting (by another great artist, Katie Meade) for the title because we wanted to add a sense of intimacy, and a typewriter for “Eighty Ninety” because of how a typewriter feels both analog and digital. We feel like our music is similarly at that crossroads.
What can you tell us about your upcoming EP? How would you describe it?
We made a kind of sketch of our sound with our first EP Elizabeth. We’ve tried to fill that sketch in and flesh it out on our upcoming EP. We’re still borrowing from a lot of genres — indie, pop, country, electronic, rock, alternative — but the songs, sounds, and choices are bigger. We’re having fun swinging for the rafters.
As a band, how do you want to be remembered for?
If we’re remembered at all we’ll be happy, haha. We believe that music is a space for artists to show up as their full, authentic, true self. That’s the only way to make human connection — which is kinda the point of everything. So it’s almost like music is practice for showing up in real life. Our favorite artists have inspired us to try and do that. As artists and humans it’s a never-ending journey to be real — but it would make us very happy to be able to help anyone out along that road.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
Kindness, empathy and compassion. Maybe not the most original answer, but we believe it!
What biggest lessons have you learned as human beings and as artists?
That all of the best things in life come from kindness — our biggest breaks as artists have come from people who had nothing to gain. Our best moments as songwriters and in the studio come when we have compassion for ourselves and try to understand the difficult moments in our lives through the creation of our music. We try to pass that forward in our day-to-day life with each other and other people. So far, it’s simple: everything good follows kindness.
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