Plugged in with Hippie Sabotage: One of Music’s Greatest Duos
While untouchable groups come in many forms, the caliber of talent when it comes to sibling groups is incomparable. This being exemplified in music over time, and more modernly in the form of some of our favorite duos like the brilliant FINNEAS and Billie Eilish, and of course, Hippie Sabotage.
Formed of brothers Kevin and Jeff Saurer, Hippie Sabotage has been steadily rising in the EDM scene, but truthfully have notes of a mix of genres in both their remixes and original releases, and mix they do well. They can just about do it all, and one has to appreciate the fact that the detail that marks their sound is exemplary of the fact that they pour themselves into what they compose and don’t intend on giving it any less effort.
This passion too carries into their stage presence. Hippie Sabotage performed alongside Yung Pinch and Juice WRLD at Santa Barbara’s Earl Warren Showgrounds for a packed-out venue clearly anticipating their gracing the stage, and it is safe to say that the audience got the show that they paid for and more. The duo went through just about every song they could in their discography including some of their new releases, and kicked an already amped crowd into a full-mode of hysteria as a result of their endless energy. Both brothers taking turns in contributing to different parts of the performance: one singing and engaging with the crowd while the other went to town on yet another instrument that night. Luckily we got the chance to sit down with the wickedly skillful duo after their performance to debrief and get to know them better, but the truth always remains: Pure talent, pure stamina, is pure Hippie.
So, first time in Santa Barbara in two years, what did it feel like?
Jeff: It feels good! Like you said we came here two years ago opening for a band called Cherub, so anytime we get to go from being an opening act somewhere to playing it on our own tour is amazing. And it’s a beautiful beach town.
Kevin: We’ve been touring all over so it’s been good to get back to California and see some people like us and just have a good time in general honestly.
Seeing you guys hit the stage tonight you treated it like it could have been a venue full of 500 people or a venue filled with a lesser 50 people, and by that I mean, it was just outright genuine. How would you describe the experience of your music painting the walls of a room filled with a boatload of people like this?
Kevin: It’s like beautiful chaos, and it’s exactly what we’re hoping for. When we do our shows we like to have a juxtaposition where when you’re at home listening to our songs you can experience a vast range of emotions, whereas in our shows we want to promote release, having a good time, screaming, jumping around. It’s the best of both worlds.
Jeff: Yeah we just got back from Europe like a month ago too and we were playing like really smaller shows, so we learned like you said to treat a room where it’s 100 people or 1,000 people the same.
What would you say is key in preparing yourselves for an experience like this?
Kevin: Water [haha]. Well your personal health is the most important thing, and this might sound boring but on our days off, we slept a lot, ate a lot of food, and just generally recovered so when we go out and we’re playing four shows in a row we’re able to fully maintain that same crazy energy every time.
And being multi-instrumental and essentially multi-talented, how do you coordinate the flow of who does what during a performance? The switches are only slightly noticeable, if that, it’s amazing.
Jeff: It’s just natural. We started the show having no idea other than going up there and playing our music and seeing how people react, then the natural dynamic just kind of crept in. Kevin started being more of the hype-man and we were just like “Let’s not change it, it’s going good [haha].” And we’re brothers, we’re not competing for stage time.
How does this translate into your production atmosphere? How do you find a balance when working with another mind?
Both in unison: There is no balance
Kevin: It’s a challenge creatively especially because we play in so many different environments, and different environments affect the music you make and how people are consuming it, and how you want people to consume it. We try and take that into account when we’re creating and try to make things just for people to listen to or just enjoy at the show, and a combination of the two.
How has being brothers both helped and hurt you in this industry?
Jeff: I don’t know about hurt to be honest, we’re able to trust each other, money is great and creatively we don’t fight each other.
Kevin: Maybe if we didn’t get along it would be harder. Sometimes people get confused I think and believe that we aren’t doing exactly what we want to be doing. I want to be the hype-man and I want Jeff to spin the set perfectly, and then I want to switch and hear the craziest guitar solos, you know?
Jeff: We honestly argue over what to put out, but that’s not even the downside. It helps us creatively push forward.
This is a question you probably get a lot, but I got a couple of fan requests to ask: where does your name stem from?
Kevin: It really came from Father’s Day when I was in like the third grade I made a lanyard with the initials “H.S.” because those are our father’s initials [or dad rather haha]. When I got my first car at 16, he gave me that back and it was always on my keychain my whole life so I always played with phrases for those two letters. I was studying Political Science at the time and was deep into my ideas about the universe and I wanted to come up with a name that meant subversive action, or action outside of the system, and that’s what our mantra was.
Jeff: We’re hippies, but we’re new age hippies. We’re active, we get shit done.
Kevin: We tune in and pay attention, that’s where the sabotage part comes from.
It’s a bit striking that people will categorize you as an EDM group, but anyone with a solid ear for music could hear that you dip into several genres, so do you ever see yourselves nestling in another “category”? “Categories” aside, how would you verbalize your own sound?
Jeff: We make beats. We tell people all the time that we just make beats. We sort of got branded by the “Stay High” remix when EDM wasn’t even really a thing yet outside of like Diplo. That was also a critique we got from labels; “You’re doing EDM, you’re doing remixes, what else can you do?” So we were like, “Fuck you, we’re gonna do our own thing.”
Kevin: We’ve always got our fans from doing whatever we want musically, so we’ve never taken that for granted.
Jeff: We’re always the biggest fans of our shit when it comes to any song that’s come out. We listen to our shit so much, as you should, so once we put it out it’s the universe’s.
On a separate note, what would you say that this music industry is lacking at the moment, and how are/could you be working to patch this hole?
Kevin: Updated regulations on copyright law.
Jeff: Yeah that, streaming platforms paying out more. Major labels control streaming platforms now, and you know, streaming platforms when they started out were amazing. Artists got to upload their music to the world for free, and now when you have labels controlling platforms and making artist-related playlists with all of the “top chart” hits, it’s basically like mini-radio all over again.
Kevin: We upload to SoundCloud because it’s just more democratic honestly. Not to say that we don’t like Spotify, we use it all of the time, but once labels started taking market-share it was just them double dipping.
Mental and physical health are leading factors that go unspoken here and there when it comes to music, yet it is definitely important for fans to hear that at the end of the day, you go through stuff just like normal people. That being said, do you have anything in particular that you would like to voice on that?
Kevin: Don’t do weird drugs, that should be the mantra forever. The OG’s that me and Jeff were raised with, that was never a thing. If you wanted to party you could drink or smoke some weed.
Jeff: Yeah do what you want to do, but just be safe.
Kevin: Other than that focus of life. Life is long and there are going to be some hard times and everything in between, but you got to be prepared for it.
Jeff: And whatever you want to do, when you get to that spot you want to be, don’t forget to keep it going.
As this year is coming to a close, what does the rest of it hold for you two?
Jeff: We’re going into music mode for the end of the year, and then just gearing up to release a bunch of shit at the beginning of the year so we can tour off of it.
Kevin: Really just beyond being able to tour off of it, just allowing people to hear what we’re up to.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Jeff: Thanks for reading, we’ve got a ton of music on the way.
Kevin: Yeah like Jeff said, thank you to everyone for supporting us these past couple of years!