80 Empire want you to know they’re aiming for world domination. That’s quite a lofty goal for two brothers who hail from the suburbs of Toronto, but give them a half hour to share their story and suddenly their passion is not only palpable it’s plausible. Ladies and Gentlemen, prepare for new rules.
First: The number “80” in their moniker isn’t a not-so-subtle homage to an 80’s revival in music these days. Their songs are in fact informed by a cross generational pastiche of Pop, R&B and Club music. The “80” is the phonetic of “A-D.” As in Analog/Digital. Clever these brothers, eh? And quite appropriate. for Analog/Digital aptly describes their personalities to a proverbial tee. One, is emotional and impulsive favoring Antiques and things with age and patina (Analog), while the other is ordered and methodical with a penchant for Star Wars and all things
technological (Digital). It’s a unique combination, just like their music.
Meet Adrian and Lucas, the dual rulers of 80 Empire. The pair started making music in their teens - the creative visionaries behind their garage band in High School. While the other guys on stage were content being poseurs for popularity, the brothers were intent on making their mark as real musicians. Family trips to Miami had yielded suitcases full of cassettes of the hottest Hip Hop, R&B and Funk which they studied like the blueprint to a secret fortress, plotting their attack with every learned guitar lick or rhyme couplet. “We knew we only had each other” says Adrian. It was apparent that only the brothers were impressed when American actor Forest Whittaker, then riding the success of the Charlie Parker biopic “Bird,” parked himself in the front row of their local festival show. “We took it as a sign to keep going,” shares Lucas. And keep going they did, fueled by their Dad’s enthusiasm for the duo’s music which he shopped on his lunch hour to the club owners in Toronto where he trekked daily for work. With their eclectic tastes driving them, over the next fifteen years, the pair developed a reputation as production chameleons crafting big sounds for major record labels for some of Canada’s and America’s most esteemed emerging artists.
By fusing influences as diverse as Jazz, Soul, Opera and Blues, they have also augmented their laundry list of accomplishments to include Juno nominations, gold and platinum albums and the scoring of music for short films. In this era of “fast food music,” 80 Empire represents a return to fundamentals for the duo - albeit with a “new school” flair. The four on the floor influence of the funk of their youth combines their musical influences in a modern stew drawing for their love of records from Jamiroquai, Masters at Work, and Nuyorican Soul reaching back further for a dash of Spandau Ballet thrown in for good measure.
Witness the first single, the bright and anthemic “This Night” – As Adrian describes – it’s like “Let the Rodeo begin – we’re ready to do it again!” Lucas, who handles the bulk of the production chores shares “it’s this soul, funk electro thing which draws from our funk influences like D-Train and Zapp who were known for their live electronic influences married to a cool R&B vocal on top.” Excitedly he continues,
“and don’t forget House music. There are all different types of House, with different influences. Personally, we were drawn to the soulful house sounds.”
So there you have it. 80 Empire. Two brothers ready to conquer the world building upon a foundation of real music combining the best of the past with the best of the present to create something fresh and new. Isn’t it time for some new rules?