Article and Interview by Bre Cura // Photos Provided by Artist
Eighty Ninety has been taking the music industry to a brand new realm with their transcendent approach to pop music. Minimalistic in all of the right ways, Abner James’ voice floats perfectly over his brother Harper’s spot-on production. “Know Me” is the latest release by the Brooklyn-based duo, touching on themes of struggle, redemption and perseverance.
“Know Me” very simply ignites hope, while also bringing the listener back down to a place of reflection and peace. Lyrics paired perfectly with building instrumentals allows the song to swell in all of the right moments. Never overwhelming, the beautiful simplicity and vulnerability of the song makes it accessible to anyone who has experienced hardships.
We were able to catch up with Abner and Harper to learn a little bit more about the story behind “Know Me”.
This is a perfect time to release a song like this. “Know Me” has such a calming effect that I really appreciated. What inspired this song for you guys?
“Thank you for saying that – it really means a lot. With the song and production of Know Me we wanted to express how the closest, most personal relationships in our lives can feel so big — and how they seem to grow even deeper when they’re called on to help us take on the biggest challenges in our lives. I think right now we are are feeling that extra strongly: gratitude for how we show up for each other.”
How does this track stand out for you compared to previous releases?
“We’ve always called our sound “808s and telecasters”, which is a nod to our influences – that range from traditional country music to contemporary pop. Harper joked that this one is “808s and banjos”. We felt like the Americana sound offered by the banjo helped us lean into a more homey, intimate feeling space.”
What does that idea of having someone that’s going to be there for you during the hardships of life mean to you guys?
“We feel really grateful to have those relationships — and try our best to be those people for our friends and loved ones, too. The song is about being thankful for that person who is there for you, and also a promise to be there for them.”
This song seems to be a lot about the connection that two people can have. Do you think this song is a romantic one, or could it be viewed as just a simple human connection?
“We feel like this kind of relationship can be romantic but also between friends and family. Love in any form, really. You said it well: any human connection.”
How have you been upholding that human connection while enduring this isolation?
“A lot of FaceTiming friends and family! (And learning zoom.) Writing a lot of music.”
How have you guys been able to find hope in the midst of these unknowns?
“We’ve been working on a lot of music. When this whole thing happened we were in the final phase of mixing an upcoming EP that we recorded with our good friend Gian Stone, who is an unreal talent. We’ve been doing mix notes digitally — and should be finished with the week!
We’re also working on new songs, demoing ideas, and trying to stay inspired. It’s felt important not to pressure ourselves to be productive though – but to try and use music as a way to (like you mentioned earlier) maintain that human connection with ourselves and others.”
Do you guys have any “Quarantine Hacks” that have been helping you kill time?
“I’ve (Abner) discovered that I’m pretty bad at puzzles and that there are a lot of classic movies I’ve never seen. I also tie-dyed a t-shirt for the first time. Harper has been mixing and producing from his laptop! We’re both always sending each other new song ideas.”
And be sure to stream “Know Me” here!