Sam, singer of gritty alt-R&B outfit X Ambassadors, took a break from load-in at In The Venue in Salt Lake City (opening for Panic! At The Disco) to sit down with us. We covered their EP – Love Songs Drug Songs, newest single “Shining“, impalements, creepy hospitals, Thor possibly in the video for “Unconsolable“, and – of course – spirit animals. It was a pure pleasure to chat with Sam as he was open to a range of awkward topics, sing-alongs, and bad puns on our part.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Sam!
– Sydne & Aly
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The Couch on the cover of the EP
That was just a chair that we saw in this venue on our first tour…It was just this gross chair, but it was just lit so perfectly. I took a picture of it on my phone. That’s an iPhone album cover there…So it kind of reminded me of these beautiful houses where on the outside they’re these gorgeous things and inside it’s just decrepit…So it was kind of nostalgic for me.
If you were to split the 6 songs from your EP into two categories – Love Songs and Drug Songs – which would go where?
Oh man. “Litost”…ok so we’ll do love songs first “Litost” for sure, “Brother”, and “Down With Me” [eyebrow wiggle] – ‘cuz that’s all about makin’ love. And then the drug songs: “Love Songs Drug Songs” that’ll be a drug one, and then “Stranger” and “Unconsolable”. I don’t really know why. I mean I guess if I thought about it those are the darker of the three. It’s kind of the dark/light thing, and that’s just immediately what comes to my mind.
The Birth of “Shining”
That one – you know I had this old demo that was called “Shining Star” that was kind of about this guy pimping somebody out to the entertainment industry. And it was like, [singing] “You are my star/ You are my shining shining shimmering star/ And I make all my money off your life”. So it went like that. So I kind of took that a little bit. We were right in the middle of doing this deal with Interscope, and we’d just gotten to SXSW, and we were gonna do this record and everything was changing so quickly and that’s the first – the beginning of it.
The Video for “Unconsolable”
I have such a close relationship with my brother so that really resonated with me and I wanted to do something about that. This story is not our story, but it’s a story about that bond…My parents are like, “This is so sad! Why would you make such a sad music video for you first video Sammy! Why?”
Is that Thor in the music video?
You know what’s funny? He’s the stand-in for Thor! He was actually, he worked as Chris Hemsworth’s stand in and his name is John Viking. He was amazing. That one moment where he realizes that it’s his brother being beat up, he did that on the first take. He was so good.
You’re on tour with Panic! At The Disco right now. If you had to cover one of their songs, which would you choose?
“Miss Jackson” That’s my jam. I love that one. I think it’s a total new direction for them, I think it’s great. Awesome.
What is your Spirit Animal?
Sam: German Shepherd. Well you know we grew up with dogs my whole life and I just love love dogs. And a German Shepherd is a really smart dog. It’s also a guide dog. Well, my brother is blind. He was born blind. So growing up I helped him out a lot. We all still help him out a lot – getting places and maneuvering around poles. Except right now he’s doing load-in.
GGG: They’re also guard dogs…Police dogs…drug sniffers! We figured it out!
Sam: Ah manarco! No!
GGG: Full circle!