New York’s X Ambassadors are a powerhouse of emotion and creativity, with one hard-hitting single after another, each coupled with intense imagery in video. But for them, it’s not just about the music. The recognized the height of their platform immediately, using it to shed light on the marginalized, belittled and forgotten members of our society.
We recently chatted with vocalist Sam Harris about music, hard work and the political climate.
I saw that you participated in the Women’s March on Washington earlier this year. That must have been intense.
Oh man, it was one of the most incredible days. There were so many people out there protesting the corruption and injustice from the government in place right now, or I should say the White House. There are still good guys in the system. We got to see Kamala Harris and Corey Booker speak. It was really inspiring.
Participating with Planned Parenthood was truly an honor, to be with so many people of the same mind speaking out against sexism and injustices in the world today.
You’ve done so much to highlight the daily struggles and perseverance of the underrepresented. The video for “Renegades” speaks volumes.
That video was special to us. We’ve been active in the community and people overlook them, and the fact that people don’t want to put more money into the system is scary. I look to my brother as such an inspiration. He’s been blind since birth so we know this world.
I felt like that song really spoke to the band and who we are. We wanted to showcase how members of the community have gone above to prove they can do everything we can, just differently. It’s the common thread among marginalized communities around the world. We’re different, but there’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all human, but we’re all different, and it’s incredible to discover these ways people do things.
What do you think of the trend toward singles and EPs rather than full lengths?
I cant think about singles too much. I don’t want to fall into old guy territory. As long as I can continue to release music and affect people on an emotional level, that’s what matters. If the album is dead, so be it. We’ll find cool other ways. There are a lot of it is complaints about the landscape. It’s definitely harder for artists to make money now, and I think part of it is ‘what about the good old days’. It seems like no one ever wants to adapt.
Exactly. I’m not worried about artists adapting, because they always seem to. It’s the industry that isn’t willing.
Totally. Artists always find a way.
Which band or musician makes more sense to you lyrically as time goes by?
I forgot how much of an impact Iggy Pop had on my life. I went through that phase later high school. I was heartbroken, our parents were getting divorced and I just thought ‘fuck everything’. I came across Iggy Pop and I just loved him so much. To see him play first off is amazing and the fact that he still has that ‘fuck you’ mentality. It’s amazing. Lyrically, I mean, he’s not Bob Dylan, but the simplicity to it is beautiful. He comes from the blues world, with such cool and simple lyrics. The anarchy of it all is just great.
What was your favorite intimate venue? Do you miss those?
It’s nice to go back to Europe and play them again. Out there, we’re still building an audience, so we tend to play smaller clubs that either sell out or come close. It’s such a rush to see the faces in the crowd with that feeling of opportunity and promise.
In the early days we were constantly battling with issues. We fought among ourselves, we had to deal with terrible monitors, or see nobody in the crowd. But that was always the last thing on our minds. As long as we got through without equipment breaking we were happy. Well, one or the other. Haha. If the equipment works but the venue is empty, well okay, that’s fine. Or if the venue is packed and we have to fight our equipment, that was fine too.
When we were touring with Imagine Dragons, we didn’t have a road crew, so we loaded in and out ourselves in these huge arenas, making sure everything was working properly in front of all those people.