Interview: Hippo Campus

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Hippo Campus have just released their album ‘Bambi’, the release tackles the social changes and troubles that America is going through at the moment. The band took a moment to talk in more depth with us about it.

What have been the social changes that have impacted you the most from when you started out as a band to now, as you’re releasing your sophomore album? 

The desire to push for equal representation both on and off stage has become prevalent in what we do as a band and individuals. It’s difficult not to feel privileged to be doing what we do and guilty because of that privilege, when knowing that the same opportunities may not be afforded or handed out to others is something we’ve been trying to be aware of and let influence the way we operate as musicians.

You mentioned that ‘Bambi may find a particular connection with those feeling shaken up by the chaos of current times’ - can you remember a moment when you felt particularly shaken up? 

The shooting at Stoneman Douglas brought things to a halt. Our creative energies and processes are so intertwined with our personal feelings and that tragedy made us stop and think, “Oh my god, how do we do ANYTHING now? Are we doing ANYTHING worthwhile if we can’t protect these kids?” All those questions were and still are a huge weight and we tried to be as honest as we could when writing the songs that we did. what a terrible yet empowering time for America’s youth. 

Are there any particular messages you want to send with Bambi? 

Yes, we want these songs to both serve as a mirror for struggles our listeners might be encountering in their own lives as well as a message of reassurance that it’s okay to be questioning everything and working towards becoming a better human being at the end of those questions. There’s good things to look forward to. A lot of the songs on this record tackle the difficulties in maintaining relationships one should cherish and hold dear, and our hope is that people can feel comforted by that stark confrontation in the music.

What’s your favourite lyric off Bambi and why? 

There’s a lyric that we didn’t write but was sampled on the first and last tracks on the album that goes, “don’t be afraid of the way that you feel, if in your heart what you feel is for real.” This line sums up a decent portion of the feelings we all had to face while making this album come to life.

Are there any behind-the-scenes stories of the recording process? 

A lot of it is a blur, haha, but a memory that jumps out is when we were at electrical audio studio in Chicago and our producer, BJ Burton, wanted us to track some songs together live. We wrote the song ‘Honestly’ within thirty minutes and while we were tracking, Jake messed up the intro line to the song. We ended up keeping that mistake in the final recording of the song. It’s a nice moment on the album meant to remind people that there’s still humans behind the music. Humans that can’t always do everything perfectly all the time.

How did the recording process for Bambi differ from the recording process of your debut album? What have been the most important lessons you’ve learned from you debut album? 

We wrote most of the songs on this album individually before coming together to pick apart and edit the tunes so that we could glue the pieces together at the end. There’s chunks of each of us that exist and we weren’t able to make that happen for landmark as efficiently or with as much honesty, and with those individual bits of us came conflicting feelings of inflated ego combined with vulnerability. We got frank and upfront on this record and that was a scary thing. To bear our feelings as openly as we did, both as a collective and in relation to each other.

Where did you draw inspiration from sonically for this album? 

All over the map, really. lots of drone and ambient music guided our desire to let empty space speak for itself, like an open field. Elliot Smith definitely pointed us to certain places. Working closely with our producer, BJ Burton, also informed a lot of the sonic expansion. The late night sessions were all we wanted to soak in for a lot of the recording process, and it became a fitting environment to draw inspiration from, even when it came to writing lyrics and melodies.

What are the plans for near future? What are you most looking forward to? 

We’re excited to be hitting the road and seeing the beautiful people who make a lot of this work worthwhile for us. We have a lot of tour dates lined up, including places we’ve never been to, and our live show is what we’re mostly focused on perfecting at the moment. We’ll be writing music all the while, but it’s nice to be able to get out of the creative bubble that was Bambi and enjoy the rest of this insanely big but similarly tiny world. 

Feature created by Athena Kam

Bambi is out now via Trangressive