Updated: Aug 14, 2020
X Ambassadors are an alt-rock indie band originally from Ithaca, NY whose group consists of brothers Sam and Casey Harris and their childhood friend, Adam Levin. Casey has been blind since birth and so they used a high contrast colorway on artwork for their most recent album Orion, aptly named for his son John Orion Harris.
Photo originally from the band insta when they were on tour in Portland, ME
Since their first show, they have amassed a huge, dedicated, fanbase, who are simply known as “XA fans,”in an effort to perpetuate the idea that anyone can be in the fandom as long as you listen to the music. All three have worked hard to foster a sense of inclusivity, community and love in their fanbase since the beginning. In comparison to many mainstream artists, X Ambassadors have always had a “scrappiness” about them. I don’t know many bands in today’s music scene that put as much thought into creating a genuinely positive culture for their fans. This means a lot to me, because I have many friends in the blind and sight impaired community, so seeing something that they can enjoy as well is incredibly exciting.
In the 11 years they have been a band, they have never stopped trying to learn, grow and be more inclusive. The ultimate example of this is when they partnered with Microsoft spatialized technology to create an audio only experience for their song BOOM. The high contrast theme extends to this unique app, extending the themes of Orion to a whole other platform. The determination the three bandmates have only makes them want to work harder. Casey has been called by many people, an inspiration to the blind community.
Once you open the app, you are taken through a brief tutorial on how the technology works followed by Casey’s introduction into why they created the app which, in my humble opinion, only adds to its value because it shows how much thought they put into it being more inclusively user-friendly. There are two distinct versions of the experience to choose from, Bushwick, which takes you to their old studio in Brooklyn and Ithaca, where they first met each other and became a band. The technology combines the song BOOM with real world sounds from whichever option you chose, thereby heightening the experience. There is nothing else like the BOOM app, technology wise right now, which perhaps is what is the most revolutionary of all.
Personally, I am so glad X ambassadors took the leap of faith to create this immersive adventure. This is a revolutionary reminder that music has the power to connect us, in a time where we need it most.
Check out the full album Orion here.
Anne is a contributor at reelcultured.com