Interview - X Ambassadors
CS: You kick off your “Into The Jungle” tour with Jamie N Commons this Tuesday in New York. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
S: We're really excited about the tour! Basically, we wanted to take this collaborative nature of the song and bring it into a tour context and bring the show on the road, so to speak. It’s gonna be a lot of fun hitting up a lot of the north east of the US. I think the furthest west we go is Michigan and the furthest south we go is Atlanta. It’s around 3 weeks and we're looking forward to every last show that we do on this tour. The NY show’s should be really great! We’re pumped about that one, that’s gonna kick everything off. We have two nights at Rough Trade and it’s gonna be a lot of fun.
CS: Yeah, because you guys are from New York right?
S: Yeah, we’re from Upstate New York! We’re based out of Brooklyn right now but originally we’re from Itchaca.
CS: Last year you did a killer cover of J. Cole and Miguel’s Power Trip and your music definitely has influences from a variety of genres. When you make music, how do you choose what you want it to sound like? Or does it just come naturally at this point?
S: It comes naturally, we all grew up listening to a llot of different, different stuff. The first music I fell in love with was Hip-Hop and R&B when I was growing up. I remember very distinctly the first music video I ever saw was Back At One. I was transfixed. Afte that I gradually got to know more about the history of hip-hop and started listening to Big Daddy Kane and KRS1 and De La Soul, then graduated to NWA and Wu-Tang and then from there it just kind of forayed, somehow, into Alternative Rock. A lot of my favorite Alternative Rock bands had strong influences like Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Red Hot Chilli Peppers were a band who Noah and I were absolutely fucking obsessed with as kids. You don’t know, I mean posters, binders, cut-out magazines, pictures of all the guys. Those were our heros! That was a band that we looked up to in terms of being a family, like we are - granted none of them were actually related by blood. It felt like a family everytime you’d see them, see interviews, or listened to their records, so we really latched onto that. But yeah, in terms of genre, we love breaking genres. I think that’s where some of the most exciting music comes out of and that’s always something we’ve just naturally done. We’ve never ever tried to stick to one genre, it never sounded good when we tried to stick to one genre.
CS: Jay Z did a remix on Jungle for Beats Music which must’ve been a huge deal for you guys as you’re such big fans of rap? If you can collab with one rap artist right now, who would it be.
S: I gotta say Kendrick [Lamar], I absolutely love Kendrick. He did a remix of Imagine Dragons Radioactive and they talked about a collaboration and did it. His verse on that was so sick and we all are huge fans so definitely him. There’s this other rapper named Isaiah Rashad who I would fucking love to get on one of our tracks. I’m trying so hard to get him to do one of our songs. It would be amazing.
CS: In a previous interview you said that your sound resembles a mix The Police and MGMT while describing your EP from 2013 -
S: I didn’t say that, I never said that!
CS: Really? I read that in an interview somewhere!
S: Yeah *laughs* that was my friend, I know who said that. It’s fine! I don’t really think of our sound as that as all actually. I think that our sound is - I don’t know! When I think about our sound, I think less about about the actual sonic quality of it and more about what we’re trying to say. I think it's this cool hybrid of this Hip-Hop and R&B sound with guitars with more rocky, bluesy, soulful vocals that are singing songs about everyday stuff. I like to be grounded in reality as a songwriter. I like to write about stuff that I’m going through, stuff that I’ve been through - real shit you know? Stuff like losing your job, things that happen all the time. The EP The Reason is all about people who have had to give up on their dreams and find a different career path because it didn’t work out and how scary that is. But also, it’s about how everything is still gonna be okay.
CS: Playing off of that then, do you make it a point to always have your sound evolve?
S: Yeah, you gotta! That’s just a natural thing that a lot of musicians tend to do. Change their sound up, because you’re never satisfied with the sound that you got, and you always want it to be better. I think the minute you find something where you’re like “This is it, I’m good, I can make this kind of music forever,” then you’re swan song’d.
CS: Lastly, I’ve personally been dying to know: Can we expect a live performance of your Jungle collab with Jamie?
S: You gotta go to the show to find out!
RocknLola: Where did inspiration for "Brother" come from and she would love to hear the story behind that song
S: That song is about someone close to you who is going through a lot of pain and struggle and you’re there with them as their shadow, sticking behind them no matter what, because that’s just what you do - you’re family.
LucyIsADragon: When will you do another UK tour (that’s not 18+)
S: *laughs* As soon as we can! A lot of the shows that are booked for us are unfortuantely at these bars and clubs that have a strict 18+ policy. Everytime we get an opportunity to do an all ages show, we always, always go for it. But sometimes it’s either do an 18+ show or don’t do a show at all.
dangerbaes: What is your best and worst band experience to date?
S: It was pretty good getting Jay Z on a feature! The worst was when our van broke down and my brother got sick and we had to go to the hospital in the middle of fucking no where. That was a pretty low moment.
itsjustrook: Biggie or Tupac?
S: Biggie. I’m from New York, gotta stay loyal!
We’d like to give a big thanks to Sam for taking the time our of his day to speak with us!
Check out the dates for X Ambassadors’ “Into the Wild” tour with Jamie N Common here!
Watch the video for X Ambassadors and Jamie N Common's collaboration on "Jungle" here!