A band’s rise to fame is not always a calm process, but that’s exactly the energy they exuded when I sat down to talk with X Lovers backstage at Terminal 5 in NYC, just before their show, opening for Alexander23 and Chelsea Cutler in a two-night sold out performance.
These two are by no means new to the game. Starting a punk rock band together when they were just kids, London Jackson and Jacob Ames (known by their Instagram handles as Saint Daddi and Saint Mommi–a troll joke that seemed to have stuck) have begun their rise, attracting a serious following with their emotional lyrics and a soulful sound. Here’s what they had to say.
Crowdsurfer: So you guys are definitely an up-and-coming band right now and ones to watch. But I know you didn’t just start last year, this has been a long time coming for you guys. Talk a little bit about that and how you guys went from kids starting a band to where you’ve evolved to now.
London: It’s such a crazy story because it really has been such a journey, and we’re still quite young, but we started like really young, right? So when we started, we were 10 years old and that’s basically half our lives. I was writing songs at the time. We met through little sisters and I was just like, “Yo, you should learn how to play drums to my songs.” I so vividly remember the first time we ever played music together, and after we went through the song, we looked at each other and were like, “We’re going to dominate the fucking planet.” And I think that energy/naivety has never left.
CS: I love that. How you’re saying like it’s like a little bit naive, a little bit like, dude, we have this energy, like we’re going to go for it.
London: Yeah. I think anything worth doing is like almost impossible, but it’s not impossible. Just almost is, you know what I mean? So you have to be a little bit naive. We’ve come this far, so I think we can do it.
CS: So you guys have grown up together and through almost a decade of working together, how has that been? How do you balance being friends but also having the band and having to prioritize getting the work done but then knowing when to chill out and be fun?
London: We’ve just grown together like in every aspect. It’s like we’ve grown up personally and professionally. Having something we both cared about so deeply from the get go brought us very close very quickly. I wouldn’t even say Jake is my best friend. At the risk of sounding really cliche, he is like my brother. And I think what that looks like is like, we can be in the studio and there’s no bullshit. We can just say, “Yo, I hate that.” And I think doing this for so long allows that dynamic to exist. The foundation of our friendship is allowing us to be able to put business first all the time. And we know each other so well. It’s like we’re married.
Jake: Truly, like we lived together, we were touring together and we share all the same clothes, our money, you know, it’s like everything’s shared. So I think the closeness at this point just makes it so fluid. And it’s exciting because we have these moments kind of recently like we’re about to play in front of 3,000 people. And that’s literally what we said we’re going to do eight years ago. It’s special. It’s so special.
CS: Talk a little bit about your writing and recording process and how you guys come up with songs. Do you have a certain way that you go about doing that or does it depend on the song?
London: We definitely have ways that we don’t do it. How we definitely can’t create is just walking into a room and saying, “We’re going to create a great song today. I know some writers in LA use that approach and it’s like a job. That’s just not who we are. As far as the actual processes, some songs I write 100% just by myself in my room in five minutes and then I’ll bring it to him. Other times, Jake will have a beat and I’ll start singing on it. I remember the song, “Sweatshirt.” I was like kind of dealing with some heavy shit and I woke up really early and went to the beach and I was tucked inside of my sweatshirt and I started like seeing this lyric: I found a place inside of my sweatshirt, that beats all reality. Oh, and you could probably try but you would not understand me. I was like, that’s special. So I ran home and wrote the song on our deck and it was done in like two hours. So it’s ever-changing.
CS: Do you feel like that’s why your fan base has latched onto you guys so much? Because like they can really relate to like the stuff you’re talking about and your lyrics?
London: Yeah, I think we like look at our fans as people, and they look at us as people, you know? We’re all humans. And they relate to it. Our fans are so much a part of the creative in a sense. I’ll go on Instagram and see like what they’re posting or what they’re going through and write a song about it. One can’t exist another other. So I think we just have a tight knit fan base and like family cause it’s like there’s just a lot of mutual respect.
CS: Do you think social media has been a good way for you guys to get your music out there to the fans and connect with them?
London: I think it’s really cool that we can be super specific with our vision, like at the touch of a finger. I think that’s really powerful to be able to control over your aesthetic. And I don’t think we’re the kind of music that a label 10 years ago would’ve assumed that girls like. But it’s like they can’t deny it now because they found us, and there’s no barrier to entry. Social media is crazy though. The dopamine hit is crazy. We went from getting a hundred likes, to like 10,000 likes a picture. And that fucks with your head. It’s weird and it’s extremely addicting.
CS: How have you guys maneuvered through that?
London: For two months I actually deleted Instagram on my phone because it was fucking with me. We would release a song and there would be a thousand comments in the first two hours and I’d be like, Oh, they like it. And then when that stopped, I felt like it was coming down from something. So I just needed to take a step back for a second. We had this really beautiful conversation going into the new year, which was like, let’s only focus on what we can control. Let’s focus on like creating dope content and instead of obsessing over how many streams of songs has, let’s focus on making better music. That mentality has extremely shifted. Fuck obsessing with what you can’t control, it’s such a waste of time.
Jake: Yeah, and I totally saw how like it affected you and how you had to work through that and I think we’re in a better place moving forward.
CS: Where are you guys looking to go this year?
London: We’re incredibly competitive, like obsessed with growing, so, as amazing as it is to be here, we’re opening. It just makes us extremely hungry to headline at some point. Meeting so many fans every night and seeing what we’ve built is so much more satisfying in person. Moving forward, we’re going to drop a new EP. We’ve been finishing it on the road.
Jake: I’ve loved being on tour and I wish it was going longer, but we’ll be doing a longer tour this year and headlining eventually when it’s right and that will be amazing.
CS: Okay, last question. Do you guys have any fun facts that you feel that our audience should know about?
Jake: Hmm, I have 10 siblings. And the other half of my family lives on a boat.
London: We both grow up in this tiny town in California. And my mom raised me vegan, so I would have cakes that were like made of grass.
CS: That’s crazy, thanks for the fun facts. Appreciate you guys chatting with us and excited for the show!
London: Thanks so much.
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[…] Alexander 23 opened up for Chelsea Cutler on March 3, 2020. We were all instantly in love with the neon heart sign that he had on stage, and clearly falling in love with him as he played his newest single “I Hate You So Much,” and covering bops such as Miley’s “Party In The U.S.A.” Take a look at all the photos below! And then check out our other coverage from concert if you haven’t already: Chelsea Cutler photos and the X Lovers interview. […]