The X Factor’s Emblem3 on Paying Rent, Priorities, and Fighting Over Girls — Exclusive
We don’t like to play favorites, but when it comes to The X Factor’s Emblem3, it’s hard not to fangirl a little bit. The three boys from Huntington Beach, California stole our hearts with their original song “Sunset Boulevard” in their first audition, and have been on the up and up since. After their amazing genre-bending performance of Matisyahu’s “One Day” on the first Live Shows episode, we don’t see the handsome trio leaving the competition any time soon.
The other day, we fulfilled a million girls’ dreams, and talked to brothers Wes and Keaton about their rise to the top of the pot on X Factor. The brothers — who are so close they often talk over each other — dished on everything from their favorite female competition (CeCe Frey) to how they’re handling balancing schoolwork and flaunting their hotness onstage.
Hey guys, what are you up to? Wes and/or Keaton: Oh, just sitting around drinking coffee.
You guys are from Huntington? Love that place. How do you find time to not surf, and to sing instead? Wes and/or Keaton: I don’t know. When it comes to music, it’s like first priority. If we gotta work on music, it comes first. Surfing is a secondary luxury.
Have you always had that stance? Wes: For me personally, it’s always been a first. Since I was like 11. Ever since I started, like, my first band it’s been like, music, music, music, music, music Keaton: Yeah, that’s the same for me.
So, Keaton, you’re how old? Keaton: I’m 16. It’s kinda bad, but music is on the list for me even before school.
How are you going to school right now? Keaton: I have a tutor and I’m supposed to be doing my work right now, but I decided to do this interview instead.
Haha, thanks man. How’s your life been since being on the show? You getting lots more girls...? Wes: Life has been pretty awesome. It’s basically the same except that we are way cooler now. We do the same stuff, but everybody thinks we’re way cooler now when we do something. Like, they notice it. We do something stupid or funny and they think it’s super funny, and it sucks cuz it’s like the same thing we did before but they just notice it now. It’s awesome.
How did you guys get together? Wes: Well, me and Keaton are brothers.
Where did Drew come from? Wes: Drew... me and him... okay, our story is kind of crazy. We used to be, like, arch enemies. Back when we were in like elementary school. I was the cool popular kid, and he was the other cool, popular kid, and we were always fighting over the girls. He had his crew and I had my crew. And we were like “yo, let’s freaking fight... let’s play a game of soccer. And it would be like his crew versus my crew. And then a couple years later, we played football together. And then we started a band, like, right around that same time. He came over for a party and started playing the guitar, and I was like, “Oh, that’s pretty cool, we should start a band.” And we joined forces and that worked out.
That’s a sweet story. How does it work now that you guys are in a group? Is there any battling over who the leader is? Or, do you still have that rivalry at all? Keaton: We all kind of take lead, but I would say Wes is mostly. Drew writes the songs, and we all contribute equally. So, it’s hard to say if one of us is the leader. Wes: I would say I’m like the frontman, but I’m not the only leader. We all lead in our own way. Keaton leads when we’re in the studio — he’s like the engineer and the guy that runs everything. I lead when it comes to like producing and putting songs together, as in like specific parts, like “let’s do this, let’s not do that. Let’s do this, not that.” I’m like the producer. And then Drew writes the lyrics. We all kick in our part. And then live, we all switch off lead. I don’t know, it’s like really equal. If there was one front man though, I’d probably be that, because I’m like the main vocalist. Like, the main singer-singer. Drew raps and also sings. And then Keaton has really crazy, like, epic rock vocals, so... we’re pretty even.
Who wrote Sunset Boulevard — Drew? Wes: Yeah, Drew did. He wrote them at a party. He was just like freestylin and I was beatboxin. He was like “I love my women like I love my juice — naked.” And then ever since that line, he just like went off. It’s just a song about nothing really. It’s just like a fun song. There’s no significance. It’s just a song about kids growing up in Cali, and like quirky lines. It’s just a fun song.
Awesome. You sing, but you guys mostly rap. Is there a plan to lean in one direction or the other? Wes: There’s no definite sound. Drew, he just does like hip hop rap and stuff, but he also does raw, acoustic, like Jack Johnson-style singing. We’re very versatile. Keaton just like sings, indie style. He doesn’t really rap at all. So, he’s like just singing. We’ll probably end up, like, just singing some songs, and some songs will have rap in them.
Which music groups do you feel connected to through your sound? Keaton: Not really. I feel like we’re our own group. We’re trying to make our own sound. People have compared us to, like, Sublime, but honestly we don’t really have the same sound. We’re pretty different, and I think that’s a great thing. It’s really hard to come by these days. We’re not some other band — we are Emblem3.
Do you guys feel an advantage over other acts that you were already a group before you made it into live shows? Wes: Yeah, I kind of feel that. We know each other, we know what are limits are, we know where we’re at... we know our own style. Some of the other groups that got put together, like the girl group, they like knew each other for a week when they performed at the judge’s house. That’s ridiculous. It’s like, how are you supposed to know somebody’s personality. But they lucked out. That was really good for them. I think they’re good. They’re gonna vibe. They have good chemistry. But other groups... I don’t really want to talk about the other groups. We have an advantage because we know each other inside and out and we know what we’re capable of and what we’re going for and what our passions are... other groups... they don’t have that. Keaton: We know what we want and other groups don’t have that yet.
So, has The X Factor been a goal for awhile, or is this just like a stop along the way to fame? Keaton: No, yeah, the show was totally spontaneous, random. We were making it on like, just trying to play as many clubs as we can. We were trying to go the indie route. We were working with some producers and a publicist and some managers, and we were just starting our own team. And that probably would have taken like five years to get to where we would be after the show. And honestly, we like couldn’t afford rent. Like, our producers and managers were like “Why don’t you just do it and try it out and see what happens.”
How’s it been working with Simon? Has he given you any feedback that you’ve taken to heart. Wes: Simon’s awesome. He’s a really great guy. Keaton: He’s definitely said some things like about my confidence level and just me singing out more. He’s definitely given me some thinking time. I definitely need to be more confident and he’s shown me that I can be and that I need to be. Wes: For me, he’s just really real. He’ll tell you that he loves you or he’ll tell you that he hates you. He’s just showed me that we should be real to what we want to be. Don’t change your mind, just stay strong.
What are you guys working on in terms of you guys as a group, as you head into live shows? Keaton: We’re all working together like to bring me out more, and to equal the singing time out. Wes: Yeah, Keaton’s gonna be singing lead a lot more on these live shows. Drew’s going to be playing instruments, hopefully. Nobody on the show has seen that yet. With our guitars and stuff. And yeah, just getting more professional and structured with it. Because normally, we just go out and wing it. We vibe off the crowd and the songs, and if it’s all going good, it’s going good. But now we’ve gotta take it from a professional level and really know what we’re doing inside and out.
Sounds like you really know yourselves. When you guys fight, what do you fight about? Girls? Wes: We don’t ever fight. Me and Drew have maybe fought over a girl like one time, but that’s it. And not recently. We never try to step on each other’s toes or make each other unhappy. We always try to love each other and bring each other up.
That’s great. Do you have girlfriends? Wes: No, none of us do. We’re ready to mingle.
You guys are going to milk this X Factor thing so hard. Tell us about your views on the other contestants — fears, fiercest competition, etc. Wes: Really, everyone here is awesome in their own way and so talented. But we’re so different. Regardless of what they do, we’re just gonna do what we do and not really pay attention. That’s all we can do. It’s just going to work out. It always has, and it always will.
Who in particular have you guys bonded with most? Keaton: Pretty much everyone. David Correy, Willie Jones, CeCe, Sister C, all of the girl group. That’s probably the most.
What’s CeCe like? Keaton: She’s a sweetheart. She’s like the nicest, coolest girl I’ve ever met.
Yeah, we love her too. Her and Lyric. Wes: Lyric 145 is awesome. We love those guys.
Any last thoughts? Wes: We just want to say we love you guys and we we love everybody and vote for us. Thanks!