You could say S-8ighty’s name chose him. Displaced from his hometown of New Orleans for four months during Hurricane Katrina, the artist and producer returned home to find a surprise in the wreckage.
“All of my equipment was destroyed and everything was all over the place, but my Yamaha S80 Synthesizer was still standing in the same spot where I left it,” he recalls. “I made sure to keep the name. It reminds me no matter what happens, I can get through it and still be standing at the end of the day. Before Katrina, I thought I would just go to school and finish college. I spent all that time working on songs. Because of everything, I pursued music that much harder.”
Settling back into New Orleans, he immersed himself in creating music. Quietly, he built a regional following and began regularly producing for local legends such as Juvenile. In 2014, his single “Halfway” made waves throughout the city, impacting radio, and eventually racking up over 1 million plays on Soundcloud. Signing to Republic Records, he hit the road with Lil Wayne and Rae Sremmurd at the start of 2016, leading into the release of his major label debut EP Breaking The Ice.
Its centerpiece is a remix of “Halfway” featuring Lil Wayne. Resounding piano and hypnotic production give way to S-8ighty’s impressive vocal range, veering between an unforgettable hook and soulful verses. Meanwhile, Wayne delivers an otherworldly auto-tuned cameo that adds another dimension to “Halfway.”
“These days, a lot of songs aren’t about love like it used to be, in my opinion,” says S-8ighty. “I wanted to make a record that listed the steps on how a relationship could work. If you do these things in a relationship, you have the best chance of it working out. I took a gamble on the topic, and it reacted thankfully.”
It’s because S-8ighty has spent his whole life studying the fundamentals of songcraft. Born to Honduran parents in New Orleans, dancehall, calypso, soca, and reggae soundtracked his childhood. At the age of 6, dad bought the budding musician an upright piano. Instead of simply playing modern music, he studied classical, falling in love with Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, and Rachmaninov and eventually attending an arts conservatory.
“My knowledge and history of music goes back hundreds of years instead of just what’s going on now,” he explains. “In terms of composition, I love the 1600s and 1700s. It’s a big part of how I create music. I started with the classics and eventually became a fan of producers like Quincy Jones, Teddy Riley, Pharrell, Timbaland, Mannie Fresh, and Kanye West. From an artist standpoint, I got into Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, The Beatles, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Drake.”
That unique musical DNA yields undeniable songs and positions S-8ighty on the cusp of a very bright future.
“I’m big on authenticity,” he leaves off. “I want to make music people can relate to it. If you’re listening to it, I’d like for you to put yourself in the situation and relate to the music no matter the topic. It’s about being real for me.”