Pushing the Limits: Bold with a Little Bit of Texture
If you haven’t yet, it’s about time to say hello to X Ambassadors, whose new album ORION (including their sonically-charged single “BOOM”) will be out on June 14th, as they push the limits of sound with their innovative take on modern music, as well as the limits of the human condition. Their origin is just as unique as its sound, an eclectic mix of rock, pop, neo-soul, and other genres. The band is the brainchild of Sam Nelson Harris with help from his brother Casey – two siblings from Ithaca, New York. “I decided to start a band and started playing music with some friends, and Casey was always playing piano. So, naturally one day we decided that we needed a keyboard player, and he started playing with us and that’s really what brought us together again,” recalls Harris, whose soulful vocals float perfectly over the piercing piano chords. Just after 8 a.m. on a chilly morning in early April, he sits in a NYC hotel room – slightly exhausted but ready for a long day ahead.
When Harris moved to New York City to attend college, Casey, who was born blind, also moved there with him to attend a school for blind piano tuners. The boys’ love of music took them to Brooklyn; the transition was tough at first because the group’s sound was different from the music local bands were making at the time. “We were a rock band, and we wanted to make arena rock music. We didn’t really fit into any sort of a scene here (Brooklyn) and had to take shows wherever we could. We had to play shows for free,” says Harris. As their popularity grew, however, the band was able to travel outside of New York and flex their musical chops in different cities. “We ended up getting a song on the radio down in Virginia in this town called Norfolk. We would go there and play a sold-out show for 1,400 people, and come back to New York and play for 150 people. You cut your teeth here, and then you can kind of do anything,” he elaborates.
The band is incorporating braille and high-contrast images into their visuals, an ode to Casey and others that suffer from visual impairment. “We will be actually incorporating on the clothes, on the vinyl, will all have actual braille on it, which is really cool. For us, it’s really practical. Casey can see high-contrast yellow on black. So, everything that we’re doing is really bold with a little bit of texture to it,” he proudly says of the accomplishment.
As self-proclaimed advocates of individuality, the band strives to connect with their audience and encourage them to celebrate everything that makes them unique. “I think that we should treasure individuality as much as possible. I think that our music tends to fall in a category that a lot of people can come to it and enjoy. But I think that specificity is really good. If you find yourself in a position where you feel isolated in some way, you should be celebrating your style, your life, and who you are. F**k trying to make it accessible for everybody. Make something that is yours,” Harris affirms.
Writer: Leonye McCalla
Photographer: Jaime Pavon
Photographer Assistant: Lucho Urrutia
Fashion Editor: Lassalle (@stylebylassalle & @stevenlassalle_ - www.stevenlassalle.com)
Fashion Editor Assistants: Stephanie Lentz (@j.hilburn.stephanie) & Beatrice Figueroa (@beatricefigueroa)
Men’s Grooming: Amanda Wilson (for Opus Beauty - using Kate Somerville Skincare)
Videographer: Jesse Ovalles
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to YOTEL New York (@yotel - www.yotel.com/en/hotels/yotel-new-york) & Irving Farm New York (@irvingfarm - irvingfarm.com)