‘X Ambassadors’ Open Up to Cougar Radio

Allison Counterman, Reporter

   Cougar Radio staffers scored an interview with members of X Ambassadors, an alternative music group with a twist of a combination of genres.

   The group’s first EP, “Love Songs, Drug Songs,” released in 2013, focused the band on its unique sound, said lead singer, guitarist and saxophone player Sam Harris.  It ended up being a hybrid alternative rock, R&B, hip hop sound.

   “I think it’s evolved now, and that’s how I kind of see that EP,” said  Harris. “It was more about creating this vibe and this kind of like duality of dark and light.”

   X Ambassadors, from Ithaca, NY, hit the stage on Jan. 23, 2015 at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, Pa. with an irresistible amount of energy that automatically drew in the crowd. The first song performed was “Free and Lonely” off of sophomore EP “The Reason,” which has a personal meaning behind it.

   “We are in our mid-twenties and we’re all coming out of college now and a lot of our friends are artists and musicians and actors and writers and what not and everyone’s trying to kind of find their place in the world and get jobs and live out their dreams and you know, for a lot of people, there comes a point where you kind of realize it’s not going to work out the way you thought it was going to be,” said Harris.

    “Even with us, we are in the midst of living our dream, we’re doing what we have always dreamed of doing when we were little kids but it’s different than the way we thought it was going to be, it always it, and coming to terms with that is a really hard thing to do.”

   X Ambassadors often sing about real life issues unlike popular music.

   “That’s not really a theme that comes up a lot, it is this kind of dream big you can do anything, you can be anything you want, which is great and that is how you should approach life,” said Harris. “But when life comes and knocks you down, what’s going to pick you back up, and it’s hard, it’s really hard.”

   The EP not only speaks about real issues, but it comes from a place of uncertainty.

   “For us being thrust into the music industry, this was our second EP with Interscope on a major label and you know, feeling pressure and for me as a songwriter, a lot of my songs come from a place of fear,” said Harris. “You write about what you’re afraid of, and for me, it’s failure and risking that and I wanted to write songs about that.”

   X Ambassadors have collaborated with popular recording artists such as Eminem, The Knocks, and Jay Z has even remixed their song, “Jungle,” a collaboration with British musician Jamie N. Commons. Sam Harris said these collaborations are childhood dreams come true.

   “It’s also all extra surreal because we’ve never met any of them in person,” said Harris.

   “We’ve kind of done everything via the internet.”

   X Ambassadors producer Alex da Kid is responsible for getting Jay Z on a remix for “Jungle” as well as the Eminem collaboration.

   “I had no idea what it was, I had this hook with Alex and he wouldn’t tell me what it was for,” said Harris.

   “He just called me up and said I need you to record something for me and then I laid down this hook and waited and waited and then the track list comes out for Eminem’s album and there’s the song.”

   Harris said these accomplishments are what pushes and drives the band to continue, “We see these cool things happening so rather than being like okay, we can sit back, it’s like the complete opposite.”

“You want to jump on it and keep the ball rolling.”

   After releasing two EPs, collaborating with big names in music, having music on promotional pieces for popular shows such as “Orange Is the New Black” and “Supernatural,” and appearing on the World Cup soundtrack to name a few achievements, X Ambassadors have a lot to celebrate in their youthful career. Members said they have not had a standout moment or event in their career – yet.

   “You kind of have to abandon any hope of that feeling pretty quickly because you’ll be chasing it the rest of your life and if you don’t, that would be crazy,” said Harris.

   “Most of the time you’re so busy looking forward and seeing how far you still have to go that you feel like you’ve made it when you have,” said keyboardist, Casey Harris.

   X Ambassadors brought much liveliness to the stage, which might fool anyone who would think they do not have any insecurities. The set ended with a crowd favorite – “Jungle” although the song is a collaboration with Jamie N. Commons, Sam Harris executed Commons’ soulful parts and brought enough energy to rock the whole crowd.

   X Ambassadors have much planned for the upcoming New Year. It will release a full length album within the year. Harris said they have about 30 songs to choose from and narrow down. X Ambassadors are touring with Lights through March, as well as playing South by Southwest, Bonnaroo, Osheaga, Big Guava and a few more music festivals.

   Other band members include Noah Feldshuh on lead guitar and Adam Levin on drums. The opening act was Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Schematic.