Meet Adrian and Lucas, the dual rulers of 80 Empire. The talented pair began making music in their teens as creative visionaries behind a high school garage band. Driven by their eclectic tastes, this dynamic duo combines the funk of their youth with emerging electronic dance vibes to offer soulful house sounds to listeners around the world.
On their upcoming single “Wherever I Go,” 80 Empire aims to illustrate the ever-lasting connections between lovers and friends through a soulful, euphoric and feel-good anthem. Drawing on nostalgic vibes, “Wherever I Go” inspires travelling to new places, meeting new faces and keeping these memories close to your heart wherever you go.
CDNEDM: Give us some background, where did it all start for you? How did you get into music and what other types of music were you into growing up?
80 Empire: We were extremely fortunate to grow up in a very musical family. Our parents exposed us both to music at an early age, taking us to see all the old soul legends such as James Brown, Ray Charles, Chaka Khan and the list goes on at the old forum in Ontario Place ( present day Budweiser Sound Stage )! Friday night was also record night at our house. Our father would go down to Monica’s on Eglinton West and buy, Funk, Soul, RnB, Disco, Reggae, Calypso and Hip Hop records and we would dance all night long. We also listened to Jazz, Blues, New Wave, Salsa and Merengue. As we gradually got older we got into dance music as well, specifically House. Our first introduction was probably Electric Circus and Much Music, as we were too young at the time to get into clubs.
CDNEDM: What was your first serious show? Where was it, who else played and what was that feeling like?
80 Empire: We have definitely had some memorable gigs and not so memorable gigs over the years ( LMAO ) From playing just about every club on Queen Street to performing at the ACC, Rogers Centre, opening up for a variety of different artists from Nelly Furtado to playing at the Jimmy Kimmel sound stage in back of Hollywood boulevard, however our first Huge gig was when we performed at the half time show for the Toronto Argonauts at the Rogers Centre. We had written and produced a theme song for the Argos and then were invited by Pin Ball Clemons to perform season opener. It was surreal to see thousands of people in the crowd, as we rapped in the middle of the field surrounded by the cheerleaders dancing and our faces on the jumbotron, pretty surreal!
CDNEDM: How does performing in other cities in Canada vary from your hometown? Is there a specific city or province that makes you feel at home?
80 Empire: Love Toronto, always will, however, Montreal has an amazing energy, it’s I think the fusion of the multiculturalism that Toronto has amalgamated with the French/European and then Haitian vibe that is just incredible. We have played Montreal a couple of times and always really enjoy ourselves. Think it’s time to go back!
CDNEDM: Although I know part of the story behind the handle “80Empire”, give the readers some background, how did this all start? What were some of the major factors or influences not only in the name but your sound?
80 Empire: Our influences definitely can be attributed to what our parents ( Gangsta P and Jabu as we lovingly call them ), played around the house, vocally and even production wise we are super influenced by Soul and RnB music, You hear it in our music and the music we write and produce for other artists. On top of being artists, we have a publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing and are owners of an Indie label called Gladiator. Gladiator comes from the idea of fighting for your freedom, ( Musically that is not depending on Major support to put out premium product ), Then when you taper in our Italian roots with one of the most integral exposures to music which was the 80s you have 80Empire, 80 also stands for A – D, Analog which is Adrian who is a lover of vintage and antiques and Digital for Lucas who is the Cappo di tutti Cappi when it comes to our sound and all things technological.
CDNEDM: Who are some current artists that you are inspired by, and is there any artists that you’ve worked with or heard that you think other people should know about?
80 Empire: We listen to a variety of stuff, old and new, Toronto has some really great up and coming talent right now. Right now you really have to check out some of the artists on our roster and not because we are behind them, I don’t think we are being bias when we say they are reallllllly dope in their respective genres, You have Juliana, Brazilian her project is very reminiscent of Sergio Mendes, Bossanova and Latin Jazz infused. Then you have Taveeta who is super Jazzy meets the world of Trap/Rnb. And last but definitely not least is Heather Russell who frankly can do it all Play Piano, sing in every octave imaginable, dance and to top it off, rap with the best of them.
CDNEDM: What does the future hold for 80Empire? Do you have specific goals you are working towards that are close to becoming reality? And what is your end game or the pinnacle for you? Is there one festival or club you dream about playing or maybe an artist you want to work with?
80 Empire: Our main goal is to get our music out to the masses and also to build our label, nurturing the next generation of artists. it’s an amazing feeling to see people vibing to your music. I think for us, we’d love to play some European festivals. Artist wise, we’d love to team up with some Rappers and make some smashes, would also love to do something with Rita Ora, really dig her voice and would love to do something really soulful.
CDNEDM: What is one tip or one piece of advice you could impart onto an up and coming artist that you wish someone had given you early on? Or is there some advice that you have been given along the way that you feel is crucial to taking the next step?
80 Empire: The best advice I would give is go with your gut, don’t get discouraged, because you will encounter a lot of hate, however you need to become an expert at circumnavigating that hatred and penetrate through a system that really is designed for people to fail. However, it’s the people that do not quit and are relentless that overcome. There is beauty in struggle, especially when the struggle results in your dreams becoming reality.
CDNEDM: What is your creation process like, where do you start, how do you fill your time and what are some things that you draw inspiration from when trying to write music?
80 Empire: We get inspiration from a variety of places, things, memories, relationships, conversations, sounds, movies, our families. Like for our latest single WHERE EVER I GO, it’s really about the places you go and the memories you hold on to. Sometimes we start off with just a beat, melody, lyric idea and then take it from there.
CDNEDM: What are some factors or core values you hold when it comes to building your brand? And what are some things or values that you cannot give up and maybe some that you had to put aside to further pursue your goals?
80 Empire: For us we will forever be an Empire of Gladiators who will fight to the end, honest, organic music. Integrity in the way we make our music and the people we come in contact with. The Brand is Vibez, it’s the relentless willingness to never give up!
CDNEDM: Shout outs, some words about a person or place that has helped you or continues to help you grow as an artist and as a person?
80 Empire: Our Parents for giving us the gift of music, our beautiful wives and children who inspire us and motivate us to work hard every day! To Wil and Joanna VanZyl our managers and partners at Gladiator who are helping us every day with our musical endeavaours
My name is Chris, I own and operate www.www.cdnedm.ca.