It’s been a huge year for California trap-meets-chillwave duo Hippie Sabotage. They toured across Europe in the spring for their Path of Righteousness tour and they hit the festival circuit with a vengeance this summer, making appearances at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and HARD Summer. Later this month, brothers Kevin and Jeff Saurer will hit the road to take on some much smaller venues. Hippie Sabotage will embark on their Lost California tour later this month and we got the chance to talk with the duo about a variety of topics leading up to this special set of tour dates.
While L.A. and San Francisco get most of the attention, places like Chico, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz also have their own unique charm. The Lost California tour seeks to highlight those venues that are hidden gems in the nation’s most populous state. As a California native myself, I have a deep appreciation for some of those hidden spots along California’s coast. The Santa Barbara stop promises to be a highlight as the brothers will be joined by Juice WRLD and Yung Pinch. The guys have also added a small slate of holiday shows in December as well. Check out our interview with Kevin and Jeff below as the brothers talked touring, making new music, and growing up in California.
It’s been a very busy summer for you guys, tell us about the tour stops and festivals like Lollapalooza and HARD Summer? What was that like with all those different and diverse crowds?
Kevin: “Honestly, it was my favorite festival season that we’ve done thus far. It felt like the energy was pretty next level for us all summer. So, in terms of momentum and, just energy we’ve been getting back from the people, I feel fantastic about it.
Jeff: “Yeah, time goes so fast, but you do so many things when you’re on the road, and you learn so many new things about performing. Like Kevin said, this year has been the most satisfying as far as really, like taking our critiques and things we were critical about and could change and putting it out there”
I want to ask you guys about HARD Summer. The day you guys performed, it was unofficially the Soundcloud rapper stage. Tell me a little about what that was like, what the crowd was like?
Kevin: “Honestly, it was exactly what we wanted. Unfortunately, Trippie Redd was supposed to headline, but Sheck Wes stepped in at the last moment, and that dude’s fuckin’ sick. So the fact that we went right before him, and we were chillin’ afterwards, we got to see his set, for me that was great!”
Jeff: “We love Soundcloud rap, it’s all young kids, the crowds. Wherever the young kids go and want to have the biggest parties, we love performing, so the Purple Stage was perfect for us.”
You guys put out a few songs over the summer, an original called ‘Coffee’ and flips of Billie Eilish & Khalid’s ‘Lovely’ and Herizen’s ‘Social Jungle.’ The vibe is very chilled out, what was the process behind those songs, what were you trying to put forth.
Kevin: “For the Billie Eilish one ‘Lovely,’ I think we were just like, damn, that’s a really beautiful song, let’s put our own spin on it, we had been sitting on that one for a while. And then for the Herizen flip that we did, I think that when they sent us the original record, we loved it, and we felt like the flip we did, the two beats went well together. So, we wanted to put them out within close proximity, so people could get that same listening experience that we were personally getting of the songs back to back. And then, as far as ‘Coffee,’ Jeff was like check out this amazing guitar beat I just made in two-and-a-half hours. And I was like, man, this is great, let’s put this on the internet, and that’s what we did.”
Jeff: “It’s so sporadic. The way we think about is like every single day we’re like stressing, we’ve got to make the best song ever. But in reality, out of like 365 days, you put out 10-15 songs, if even. And then we put out two in a week, and none in two months. We’re trying to build up a library where we can be more consistent with it.”
I’ve heard you guys go super hard in your live sets, but you also have live guitar and vocals, how do you find a way to blend those chilled out vibes with a heavy hitting, high energy live show?
Kevin: “I think we’ve found a happy medium finally. When we got back from Europe, playing more intimate environments on a regular basis, it really improved, even just our body language. In a more intimate environment you learn when to interact with the audience, when not to, when to let, just the beats make the vibe of the evening. I think that’s what we’ve been trying to work on as much as possible, not over-talking and just letting the show progress forward nicely.”
Jeff: “And we like the sets to be wavy. I like going hard, but when we’re chilling, we’re completely chilling. I’m like in the guitar jam just sitting there, and when we’re hard, Kevin’s like screaming on the mic. But you can’t go hard, that crazy, for 60 minutes, we try to do like 10-15 min, go hard, chill it out for a little bit, and then come back.”
Tell me a little about your upbringing here in California, what are some of your favorite places, what has brought you back here to L.A.?
Kevin: “We were born and raised in Sacramento. Jeff went to school in San Diego, and I lived in San Diego for a time. I lived in Reno, while I was working a job, for a time. I lived all up and down the state at different points after I got back from school at Arizona State. So I think that really just influenced us overall. And being absolute, die-hard San Francisco Giants fans. We would go to San Francisco all the time on weekends, day trips. I think it just kind of shaped who we are. I definitely think going to Giants games is one of my favorite things to do in California, whether it was Candlestick or the new park.”
So when you guys were growing up together, what was the point you guys got started making music together, and you realized you both wanted to pursue music as a career?
Kevin: “I think there’s been various phases, because we’ve been doing it so long. And it started off as something we thought was cool, and we obviously still think it’s amazing, and then we became obsessed with it. And then you go through different phases, like Jeff went to music school, so that took it up another notch. I was finishing up at ASU, and once I graduated, that took it up another notch. So it just kind of escalated over time as we became more and more serious about the thing that we had consistently done for fun for so many years.”
Were your parents encouraging of you guys pursuing a music career or were they skeptical at first?
Jeff: “They helped us get into and were encouraging in the beginning. As a career path? That took a minute. But, after we went through it on our own and did everything, now they love it.”
Kevin: “Once they saw a show and a sold out crowd, like, it really clicked in their heads, so it makes perfect sense to them now, so it’s great to see.”
How do you achieve a balance between putting in the work and finding to time to chill or go to a baseball game or do a fantasy football draft?
Kevin: “We’re pretty obsessive, I’m not going to lie, so we’re pretty terrible at work life balance.”
Jeff: “It’s hard, once your there you gotta keep it going, and music is such a quick thing. You’re come and gone so quickly, you really have to keep people’s attention so you gotta keep working.”
So once you guys had broken through, what was the thing that motivated you to keep it going?
Kevin: “I think we always conceived of Hippie Sabotage as like a continuous art project that could go anywhere it needed to, so I don’t really think of it as like a beginning and an end. I just want to contribute more ideas to this thing that we’ve created and I would like to have people have the chance to listen to it and to see what their thoughts are. Curiosity keeps me going, I’m really just curious.”
Jeff: “Hell yeah, likewise.”
Kevin: “We have an audience, we make beats all the time, I really want to know what the people think, good, bad, up, down, whatever.”
Do you find that producing comes naturally and you have a knack for it, or do you ever encounter writer’s block and aren’t sure what to do with a track?
Jeff: “We make stuff all the time, we definitely overthink shit, like way too much”
Kevin: “We argue about trivial details I think probably too much, that people don’t necessarily even hear in the final product. But it’s all just for the improvement of what we’re trying to present. I think our biggest problem is being overly critical…like Jeff said, we just try to stay creative, stay writing, and if we feel the spirit that morning, then something’s going on.”
Jeff: “And it’s what you like doin. It’s like if you play a sport, you want to play with the pros, you want to play with everybody else. So when you hear new music that inspires you, that’s what keeps you going, you want to stay in the game really.”
Tell us about the concept of the upcoming Lost California tour, what can the fans expect to see, what’s new and different?
Jeff: “We’ve got a bunch of new visuals, some more new music we’ve added from the Path of Righteousness tour and the Europe shows and festivals since then. And really the basis of it is, since we’re from California and we’ve always played San Francisco, L.A., San Diego, the bigger cities, we really wanted to hit all the hidden cities we’ve been to. That not many people get to play.
Kevin: “Especially being able to do Sacramento and doing a hometown show, at least once a year. It was important.”
There’s also going to be another tour in the Spring?
Kevin: “We love touring. We’ve really hit a groove, I feel like, over the last year in terms of our show, and just being able to work on it and do cool things musically that keeps us both entertained…You learn so much with each tour, just in terms of learning what you want to do with the show you’re presenting…each tour we’ve been able to rehearse more and more and more, go even deeper into the visuals, and how the visuals match the music and the overall ambience of the evening. I think it’s going to be dope.”
In all your experiences touring, do you have a favorite place to visit?
Jeff: “We like Amsterdam”
Kevin: “I really like New Orleans, just fun people, and every time we’ve gone there, it’s just been a fun time.”
What was the place you were most surprised to visit?
Kevin: “Missoula, Montana. So dope, coming back on the unnamed spring tour.”
Jeff: “It was like a Tuesday, in a snow storm, it was cool. Eugene, Oregon too, we did a little 700-person show in a room like this, there was like five people on top of each other at all times.”
What’s your favorite L.A. habits?
Kevin: “Postmates nice food. It’s terrible, I know.”
Jeff: “We moved in and got an XBox from Postmates before.”
Kevin: “This was in the early days of Postmates, I don’t know if they’ve updated.”
What advice do you have for upcoming producers?
Kevin: “I would say use YouTube as your platform, make beats all the time, and enjoy the process of life.”
Jeff: “Yeah, just don’t stop, keep making music. Live-streaming, visuals and music together, work towards that.”
Get your tickets to see Hippie Sabotage on their Lost California tour here and make sure to check out their latest tracks below.