‘Wild and Free’ is the new single from 8 Graves, an alt-soul duo based out of New York City. The pair blend digital and organic instrumentation to create aural landscapes full of texture and vitality. We chatted to them about their history as musicians, the new record and navigating the industry as an independent band.
Hey, tell us a bit about yourself.
Nick and I are two pretty normal kids from New Jersey. We’ve been making music together in various projects for around 12 years now, and our experience making lots of different types of music together has definitely helped in making 8 Graves the eclectic, multifaceted project that we believe it to be. Having done everything from Post Hardcore to EDM together over the years, we’ve been able to take a little bit of what we love about all different types of music and combine those elements into something that we think is widely appealing, but also deeply personal.
We are best friends and know each other as well as I think any two friends really could, and that makes our writing, production, and recording process brutally honest, and even at times contentious, but we always come out laughing it off and excited about our finished product. We have spent the majority of our careers playing in New York City, from dive bars and band battles to high end nightclubs. We are blessed to have seen so much in music, but are definitely always hungry for the next step and the next challenge. We just really love making music – to the point that everything else in our lives has always taken a back seat.
Outside of music, we’re pretty much nerds. We’re big into video games, anime, and all other nerdy things of which you could think. Definitely not what people expect when they talk to us or listen to our music, but it’s true nonetheless.
Where did the new single come from?
“Wild and Free” was a little bit of an outlier when it comes to our creative process. There was a DJ looking for a vocal line for a track he was working on, and we had gotten an offer to send something in. I laid down a verse and a chorus to send to him, and when he heard it, he didn’t like it. I was a little upset by this, as I tend to take things personally, but Nick was amped to try to use it in a track for us. So he took the melody and lyrics I wrote and made a whole new track behind them. When we listened to the finish product, we were really happy with it, so we decided to put it out.
Because I was writing for someone else, I wanted something kind of poppy and toward the center. I pretty much wrote a cute love song. As soon as we found out that we were going to be using it for ourselves, I decided to put my own spin on it. I tend to write things that are a little darker/morbid. It’s something I took from my few years as a metal and emo kid and apply in a lot of the way I formulate lyrics. The song is actually about a couple in love during the end of the world. As fire and brimstone rain down around them, and they realize there is no way out, they decide not to fight it, and spend their final day on earth dancing, holding each other, enjoying each others company, and apologizing that they aren’t able to protect one another from the inevitable end. I think it speaks to the way that I tend to fight for those I care about. No matter what is happening, I always do my best to protect and honor those I care about. That little piece of me also went into this song.
Is there more content in the pipeline?
Absolutely! Our next single “Hang” is already slated to be released on 11/17/17, and then our next single “Story” will be released sometime in mid to late January I believe. Normally we do a fun cover project around Christmas time, so if we have time, we’ll be doing something then as well. We are ahead for once, and have our singles prepared all the way through next summer at the moment.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I think one of the hardest things to say as an independent artist in 2017 is what exactly you expect for yourself in the future. To be completely honest, I’ve started to really try to not think about it. The way the industry works now, it has become increasingly difficult to get organic opportunities. You essentially are just making the best songs you can, and hoping that they somehow catch on via Spotify or Soundcloud. In NYC, almost all of the venues to play shows have become booked by large scale production companies, so it’s hard for a project, especially a “pop-ish” alternative project that sounds a little different than a lot of what’s out there, to really do the grass roots thing in this area. It’s just frustrating and hard and bleak for someone who isn’t particularly known as being “the cool kid” or whatever. If you’re cool in NYC, the world is yours. I don’t know that anyone would describe me or Nick as cool, though.
As nerdy, somewhat private kids that just really love to make music, Nick and I have become increasingly aware of the effect that expectation has on us. So when we talk about what’s to come for us, all we can say is we’ll be working really, really hard to bring the people that care to listen to us the absolute best possible songs we can create, and that they will be 100% honest, meaningful, and ours. No writers. No big shot producers. No bullshit. Just me ripping my heart out and putting it into the vocals, and Nick tirelessly working to make our tracks sound as professional and polished as possible. Our focus is on our art. The rest is honestly anybody’s guess.