This Musical Duo Has Been on Stage Since Sixth Grade - OZY | A Modern Media Company

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because their eclectic sound is what you need this summer.

  • California alt-pop duo X Lovers is preparing its major-label breakout.
  • Best friends since sixth grade, the pair’s radical honesty helps fuel a sound inspired by everyone from Tyler, the Creator, to Nirvana.

London Jackson hadn’t really bonded with anyone before, but it only took two months after being introduced to Jacob Ames by their sisters before the two began to compose music together. The year was 2009, and although they were only 11 years old, the pubescent duo had a chemistry that was unmistakable from the jump.

Jacob didn’t even play music. It was London, who had already been writing songs, who encouraged him to drum. A shitty $50 percussion kit later and their first song, “The Root,” was born. “I don’t know how the hell we did it,” Jackson tells me from his hometown of Nevada City, California, where he’s riding out COVID-19. “I remember we played this song all the way through, stopped, and then we looked at each other, and I said to him, ‘Yo, we’re going to be the biggest band on the planet.’” 

Pretty audacious. But as the band X Lovers, the best friends now find themselves at age 22 making progress toward that prediction. Based in Los Angeles, they’re recording their debut album for RCA/Visionary Records as the first signed act out of their hometown. 

One minute you can hear something influenced by Tyler, the Creator, and Kanye West, and in the next you may hear Green Day, Nirvana and Taylor Swift.

“After meeting Jacob and London and recognizing not only their incredible talents but also their obsession with their craft, and their vision to be a global act, we were incredibly passionate to make sure they were a part of our label,” says Chris Zarou, CEO of Visionary Records. “They are genuine as both people and artists, and it’s an honor to work with them and bring their artistic vision to life.” 

image_1[1]

Ames on drums and Jackson on guitar at a show at the boardwalk in Orange County, California.

This obsession Zarou speaks of could not have been possible without the support of family. Starting off as a punk/pop band, X Lovers’ first gigs were house parties in their parents’ living room, stuffed with 200 sixth graders at a time. They would go on to tour all over Northern California by the time they were in eighth grade — with their parents’ help, but not on their parents’ dime, so they had to figure out the finances themselves.

This hustle mentality continues to set them apart in the area of fan service. They respond, for example, to every comment on Instagram. “We make the shirt; they wear it. Without them wearing it, no one gives a fuck about the shirt,” Jackson says. 

And it seems they’ve made quite the tank top, having amassed nearly 60,000 Instagram followers and more than 300,000 monthly unique listeners on Spotify. The numbers are substantial, but the breakout has not yet arrived.

Jackson, a vocalist/guitarist who writes the songs, has been at it since he was 7 years old and says it’s cathartic. The drummer Ames, meanwhile, “has rhythm living inside of him,” Jackson says. Their longtime bond means “we are able to be extremely honest with each other in general but especially when it comes to the creative process,” Ames says. “We are always pushing each other to keep getting better.”

Their sound now can be described as alt-pop with a mix of everything they’ve been listening to. One minute you can hear something influenced by Tyler, the Creator, and Kanye West, and in the next you may hear Green Day, Nirvana and Taylor Swift. “Their sound is unique and can take you all kinds of ways,” says Guillermo Arroyo, a live event photographer who’s worked for artists like J. Balvin and Post Malone, and toured with X Lovers.

X Lovers have been rolling out songs each month going into the October release of their new EP. In the meantime, you can listen to their debut project Virgin and their latest single, “F*** What People Say,” and contemplate whether their boyhood boast of world domination will come true.

Sign up for the weekly newsletter!