Cameron Walker on how Twin XL came, saw, conquered — then adapted

Formed by three talented musicians with years of touring and recording experience under their belts, Twin XL has quietly been rising to the top since they released their first single, ‘Good’, in 2019.

Nobody could predict what would later happen in 2020. Still, the band took it in their stride and shifted their focus to releasing as much music as possible, interacting with their fans in new ways, and riding out the storm in the hope that things would eventually return to normal. Their hard work and determination are very obviously paying off, though — they’ve amassed over five million streams on ‘Good’, and their latest release, ‘Lemonade’, has reached nearly a quarter of a million streams in just over a month.

It’s coming up to the end of January 2021. Joe Biden has finally become president of the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic is still besting the majority of the planet, and Twin XL’s lead vocalist and guitarist Cameron Walker is at his parent’s house in Connecticut. “I came back here for the holidays, and with all the craziness going on in LA, I thought I would extend my stay,” he tells us, “I’m looking forward to things improving so I can find my way back there, but traveling is so difficult right now because you have to map out how you’re going to do it safely and find time to quarantine when you get there.”

Twin XL started last year on a high, ready to take on a month-long tour supporting indie pop/neo-soul band Fitz & The Tantrums. When it came to it, the tour was going well, and every night, the band welcomed new fans into the fold… but then disaster hit. “Two days before the tour was over, the pandemic hit, and everything was locked down, and I think before then we were in the headspace [where] I was like, okay, let’s put an album out, and get eight to 10 or 12 [songs], or however many is considered an album now,” Walker reveals, “and I think that shifted. Part of the thing for us with putting an album out was that we would release it, we’d get on a tour, or we’d do one ourselves to support it and play the album. I think now it feels almost like it makes more sense to put singles out and a lot of them.”

So that’s exactly what they did, with 2020 seeing the release of an extended version of their 2019 single ‘Messy’, plus ‘Melt’, ‘Problematic’, and ‘Lemonade’ — he admits that not all of them would be singles on a conventional album though. “Honestly, ‘Melt’ and ‘Problematic’, for example, would probably just be on an album but not a focus single, but we were playing them live anyway and figured it was best just to put out what we had. That’s the new mentality; when we have something that feels good, whether it’s a ‘lead single’ or not, we just want to put it out as quickly as possible.”

The latest single, ‘Lemonade’, came about from Walker finding himself in a tight spot. While he’s keen for the band’s music to be an escape from the world, he finds the best material happens when he is totally honest with himself. “It’s like I almost shut my brain off and let my subconscious autopilot. It was in the middle of the pandemic, the worst of it, and it was just what I was feeling that day. I was almost unable to feel angry or sad; I was just completely shut down,” he admits. “My favorite line from the song is, ‘I hate to say it, but my heart is on vacation,’ because that was an ironic way for me to say that human connection was impossible at that moment.”

The state of the world has also forced Twin XL to reevaluate how they engage with their audiences, seeing as live shows have always been an integral part of that process. Not only have they not been able to connect with new fans in that way, but it’s also left them unable to interact with their existing fanbase in that more traditional sense. However, the band was quick on the uptake, largely thanks to the fact that they were already deep-rooted in many forms of social media. “Instagram has always been a focal point for us if a new song is coming out; we want to make sure we have cool teaser stuff for our stories,” Walker says. “We want to make sure that we’re engaging with every single fan that listens to us. For me, I like to bounce around on kind of everything. I think Twitter is really fun. I think there’s this really dry sense of humor on there, especially with our fans, that I think is funny, so it’s fun to tease new music there.”

The fans give back as much as they get, too. One started a Discord server and sent the link to Walker one day, which he now finds himself fairly active on. “What better way to know if people are going to like [the music] than just ask them directly?” Walker pointed out, after telling us that he sometimes takes videos of what he’s working on and puts them on the server for the fans to see. Twin XL has been very much a fan-first endeavor from the very get-go, and the dedication of these followers speaks volumes.

They recently were involved in a collaboration with Fearless Records signee American Teeth titled ‘Barred Out’, and this is the kind of thing that they intend to continue with. Not only is this the way they’re able to carry on connecting with new listeners outside of their fanbase, but it’s also a way to keep the scene going at this trying time.

But what’s next for Twin XL? They have another exciting collaboration coming out in February, with details to be revealed soon, and will spend 2021 releasing as much material as they can.

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