With other creative endeavors winding down, the two parts that make up the synth-pop duo 88/89 (listed simply as Jack and Michael) found each other in the right place and at the right time.
“We bumped into each other at a very similar time in our life when we were open to do what’s necessary in a creative partnership,” they said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “We trust each other creatively even if at times something doesn’t sit right at the beginning.”
88/89 just released the La Felix remix of their single, “Hit Me”, available here.
We recently sat down with the duo to discuss a different kind of time machine, balancing on a seesaw, and getting creative during lockdown.
TrunkSpace: You guys dropped the track “Hit Me” on August 21, and the La Felix remix of the same track just last week. What does this single say about where you are musically in 2020?
88/89: “Hit Me” represents the path musically that we want to go down. We experimented with a few different sounds and this was the first time we started using drum machines, which changed how we approached the writing process.
TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the single?
88/89: This is where we came together musically and found a common ground. Before, we were focused more on rock music. “Hit Me” is the track where we branched out with regards to our influences.
TrunkSpace: First impressions mean everything. If someone had never heard your music before and “Hit Me” was their first exposure to the 88/89 sound – would they get a full sense of what they’d hear at 88/89 show? What would they not experience with their headphones on that they would front-and-center in a club seeing you perform?
88/89: Sonically they’d get a good snapshot of 88/89. Musically “Hit Me” represents the beginning of something; the rest of the songs on the EP we wanted to fit together like a puzzle and have their own identity and energy.
With regards to the live show, it’s gonna be a very different experience. There’s only two of us on stage so we wanted to create an atmosphere and for everything to make sense as engaging as we could make it. So all of the organic sounds: voices, guitars etc., come from us and all of the synthetic sounding instruments: synths, drum machines etc., come out of a giant box we built called the Time Machine. It acts as the 3rd member of the band and also lights up in time with the music.
TrunkSpace: From what we understand, you guys came together after different creative endeavors outside of each other came to an end. What did you guys find in one another creatively that lit the fuse to form 88/89?
88/89: We could go into a lot of detail but essentially we both have our strengths and our weaknesses and we seem to balance each other out. We bumped into each other at a very similar time in our life when we were open to do what’s necessary in a creative partnership. We trust each other creatively even if at times something doesn’t sit right at the beginning. The creative process is a bit like balancing on a seesaw. We’re never both down at the same time but most of the time we sit in the middle.
TrunkSpace: Is there such a thing as creative soulmates, and if so, have you guys found that in each other and with the project 88/89?
88/89: One-hundred percent.
TrunkSpace: What does the writing process look like for you guys? How does an 88/89 song go from core concept to completion?
88/89: We rarely approach a song the same way twice. There are so many different ways a song can start. From who instigates a song or idea to what instruments we start using and end up with. We try not to overthink it and just go with our instincts. We regard it creatively as a 50/50 partnership. So pinpointing exactly who wrote what and when gets quite blurry and doesn’t really matter to us.
TrunkSpace: We would imagine that one of the benefits of working with someone else on any creative endeavor is having the immediate springboard at your disposal to bounce ideas off of and know what works and what doesn’t? What are some other benefits of creating alongside someone that going solo doesn’t allow for?
88/89: The creative process is very individual. What works for one person might not work for another; for some working alone works well, and for others working in a band of six works better. Making the discovery of what works for you is 90% of the battle because making music should not be a laborious process.
TrunkSpace: Where do you draw your creative energy from and what fuels that fire when the flames start to flicker out?
88/89: The seesaw between keeps the fire going.
TrunkSpace: 2020 has been a long, strange year. With all of the social distancing and need for quarantine, how have you guys stayed active together creatively? As society shut down, did the writing slow down as well, or did you find a way to maintain the creative back-and-forth?
88/89: Creatively nothing really changed for us because our studio is our home. If we had a creative task to do outside of songwriting, we improvised and used other skills that we have to make things happen. For example, we needed a music video for “Hit Me” right in the middle of lockdown. Obviously everywhere was shut, so we bought a green screen and shot it on an iPhone in our living room.
TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
88/89: No way. We’d miss all the fun. We don’t know where this is gonna take us and if we did know we’d probably fuck it up.
“Hit Me” and the La Felix remix are both available now.