X Ambassadors Face Figments of an Imagination on “My Own Monster”

X Ambassadors (Photo: Nikolas Ray)

Sam Nelson Harris was trapped with his inner demons. Slivers of silver screen mystique, juxtaposed by caricatured visions and animated familiarities, visually, “My Own Monster” (KIDinaKORNER/Interscope Records) is a movie playing back in the X Ambassador frontman’s mind, breaking from repressed feelings and experimenting with a more carefree existence.

A follow up to Eg, X Ambassador’s three-song project released earlier in 2021, “My Own Monster” is also the first song off the band’s upcoming third album, The Beautiful Liar, out later this year, and was inspired by Harris’ owns struggles with personal, professional, and other responsibilities, living out his own choreographed “dance” with the monsters in his head.

“It’s a song about someone who has a voice inside their head,” says Sam Nelson Harris. “There’s something evil about the voice, but the person is attracted to that and ultimately decides, ‘I’m going to embrace this awful thing, let it be my best friend and let it protect me. What could possibly happen?’” 

Produced by Andrew Wells (Halsey, Fitz and the Tantrums), “My Own Monster” examines all the things that weigh emotionally and mentally, and breaking free. Singing I’ve been so deep inside this hell so long, I like it here / I walk these city streets alone so I can disappear / And lately, I find when I look into the mirror / There’s a stranger staring back and smiling ear-to-ear, Harris shifts from a black and white to color world in the cinematic video, directed by longtime collaborator Daniel Iglesias Jr., along with visual effects by Mathematic, the Paris VFX producers behind Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” video.

Blending Gene Kelly (Anchors Aweigh) moves, with Harris dancing with his shadow, and appearances by Jerry the Mouse from Tom and Jerry, “My Own Monster” is a visual trip through the imagination, choreographed alongside Genna Moroni, who Harris trained with for a month prior to filming.

“The idea for this video came to me in a dream a couple years ago and now it’s come to life,” says Harris. “The video feels playful and dangerous and kind of unhinged all at once, which is how I felt while making this record and video.”

X Ambassadors (Photo: Nikolas Ray)

He adds, “‘Monster’ was dark, and it had a little bit of camp. I wanted to find a way to marry those two worlds.” 

By mid-2019, “My Own Monster” was written along with the album’s title track and both became the centerpiece of the record, and the ongoing narrative of the album, weaving various media from childhood, often centered radio dramas and books on tape that Harris would listen to with his brother, who was blind.

“I have spent my whole life being the person who always has it together, is always coming up with the answer or the solution,” shares Harris of “My Own Monster” and its continuing storyline. “In every aspect of my life, I’ve always put it on myself to be the one who’s got everything under control, but the the truth is that’s not true. I wanted to let myself go and see what happened.”

A turning point from the band’s 2015 debut VHS and follow-up Orion in 2019, the production of the upcoming album was left open-ended, so everything would unravel the way Harris envisioned.

“For the first and second records after the music was done, I felt very rushed and pressed for time and everything was a scramble,” says Harris. “There were parts of it I felt I had compromised. For this record, I made a promise to myself, that I was going to make sure that I was happy with everything that was coming out, and that it was how I pictured it in my head, and if that needed more time, then I would give it more time.”

Harris adds, “At the end of the day, that’s all we have as artists, our satisfaction with the work that we’ve made. I want to be able to look back on the work that I’ve made and be truly proud of everything that goes into it and not feel on this album, or any album moving forward, that there was any stone left unturned.”

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