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Hella Juiced: Hippie Sabotage

October 12, 2018

Read the full interview on YoungCalifornia.com!

Hippie Sabotage can be described in one word: vibes. If you know know producers, you know them to be one of the most lit production duos in the game. Whether it’s EDM or hip-hop, the two NorCal-bred brothers waste no time in unleashing only the hottest records, hardest beats, and even more turnt shows. Read more…

If you need a starter, “Fading Into Fog” is a great place to begin. The song’s top-notch production is magically blended together with their smooth vocals, live guitar, and signature 808’s. Earlier this year, Kevin and Jeff unleashed an explosive remix of Billie Eilish and Khalid’s “Lovely,” as well as produced on Denzel Curry’s new album, TA1300.

For those who don’t know, who is Hippie Sabotage?
Jeff: Two brothers who make music, Jeff and Kevin. That’s who we are.
Kevin: I’m the older brother with the beard.

Where do you fit in the realm of EDM and hip-hop?
Kevin: We fit somewhere in the middle. We have a wide variety of songs and sounds. We don’t try to restrict ourselves in one space. We always considered it more instrumental, as opposed to electronic dance. But I think we’ve incorporated a little bit of both elements.
Jeff: We came up as hip-hop producers, so it’s sort of just lead to the EDM thing.

Do you prefer one label over the other?
Jeff: No, we’re everything really. We just try to touch all fields as much as possible. Wherever we can fit in and put our energy into is where we’ll go. We just had a song on Denzel Curry’s new album, but then we’re also putting out super electric guitar jams on our own SoundCloud.

I love Denzel Curry. Talk about how that collab came about.
Jeff: Through Fanatic, the producer. We linked up with him in the studio maybe 6 or 7 months ago.
Kevin: We did a couple sessions, and then Denzel recorded on one of the songs that we had been working on. It was just real fun.

You guys are from Sacramento, how does that play into your life and career?
Jeff: We’re definitely from the West Coast. When we travel, that energy definitely sticks out a little bit. I don’t know. I feel like in Northern California, you have to try a lot harder. It’s limited as far as industry. It makes you have a stronger hustle.

How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
Kevin: As much as people don’t want to admit it, it is the most important thing. Because not only do you see people up and close who are doing things in your field, but you also see where you could be in the future.
Jeff: It’s a part of the process. There’s so many people traveling and coming here to work on music, that being here allows you to get in the studio with a wider range of artists.

How long have you guys been in Venice ? What do you love about residing out here?
Jeff: It’s our second year. We love it. We lived in San Diego for 8 years, so we just love being by the beach.

What prompted your decision to finally move to LA?
Kevin: Music. It’s like you said, we had to make the move to finally be in the mix all the time. Like Jeff said, we tried to bring that San Diego mentality here. Stay in Venice and catch the ocean breeze.

Talk about your love for marijuana and how that plays into your music.
Jeff: [both laugh] We’ve both been smoking weed and making music for quite some time now. To be honest, we don’t even think about it. It’s just part of the process. It gets the juices flowing. We really love the conversational aspect of it, as far as passing blunts around and sharing ideas with friends. The other day, they were asking if it helps us creatively or not. We don’t even think of it like that anymore. It’s more so part of the routine with making music, it just goes hand-in-hand.
Kevin: I concur. It’s just part of the process. Sometimes, when you’re doing things repetitively, it can take you outside of the ideas that you’re currently in. It kind of just gives you a different perspective.

You dropped your first EP in 2013. How has your sound evolved over the years?
Kevin: I think it’s been heavily influenced by our live show. Just wanting to do more with our performances, in terms of incorporating Jeff playing guitar for 10 to 15 minutes, and doing a couple singing songs. From 2013 up until now, we’ve tried to work on songs that could not only work as a listening experience, but also in a live space as well.
Jeff: I concur. [laughs]

Being that your brothers, Kevin and Jeff Saurer, what’s the dynamic between you two?
Jeff: Kevin is the angry grumpy one. I’m the mellow, “save the day” guy. [laughs]
Kevin: I have to be the boss of the organization, you know? Sometimes, that takes me being a little bit grumpy, but I always do it with love.

Who gets the final say?
Jeff: Honestly, it’s interesting because if there is something that we both intensely disagree on, then it’s probably a bad idea.

Kevin: Then we’re not going to do it. Even if I think something is a great idea and Jeff doesn’t, or vice versa, if the other person isn’t totally sold on it, normally, we wouldn’t press the issue. Because we would trust that the other person is seeing something in the moment that we’re not.

You recently flipped Herizen’s “Social Jungle.” Talk about linking with her.
Jeff: She actually knew our opener Melvv on our Path of Righteousness Tour, the one Bobo was on. They reached out to us to flip the song, and it sounded great when we did it.

Is that what happens most of the time, people reach out to you?
Kevin: It really depends, like we reached out for the Billie Eilish flip we did.

That’s bae!
Kevin: Yeah, I super like that one. It really just depends. If we’re trying to do a remix and flip in 2018, we try to make sure it’s a really good sample that we should do. Like Jeff said, we were excited when we heard the song. We really liked the original. We just wanted to put our spin on it, and see if could make it something we could put in our set as well.

What’s been your favorite collab thus far?
Kevin: I really liked working with Alex Wiley, with Kembe X. They’re both really cool. We did his song “Vibration.” We did that beat. That’s probably one of our best hip-hop songs that we’ve ever done. They’re so picky with our beats, both Kembe X and Alex Wiley. They’ve become close friends with us, like real good friends. But sometimes — they are going to read this so — they should be less picky with our beats. [laughs]
Jeff: It’s all rappers. We sent a pretty hot fire batch around 2014, and it sounds identical to 2018’s.

Are there any hip-hop artists that you guys have your eyes on?
Jeff: Obviously, I would love to work with J. Cole or Kendrick Lamar. We got a song with Kembe, and Ab-Soul. Ab-Soul came to one of our shows and we got to meet him. I was absolutely starstruck.
Kevin: He came to the second night of our El Rey show. It was just an honor to meet him. Anything TDE-related. Sheck Wes.
Jeff: Shy Glizzy, I really like him.

What is your take on the music industry?
Kevin: I think that it’s a great time to be an artist. The internet can truly give you the power to break yourself, so I would say go for it.
Jeff: I feel like it’s better than ever. Just don’t get caught up with the wrong people.

Have you noticed people talking about the negative parts of it?
Jeff: We’ve experienced negative parts of it, but the internet allows you to maintain your independence.
Kevin: Casey Neistat was talking about the difference between him doing his HBO show and his YouTube channel, and why his YouTube channel is so much more popular. Because it was his pure, unedited vision. I think that all artists moving forward in 2018 and beyond should listen to that specific tidbit of advice, that their unedited opinion is most of the time what people want the most. They don’t need an intermediary to pick through what idea is good, they can just bring all the ideas to the people.

I’ve had the pleasure of going to your show at The Novo, and you also did HARD recently. What sets your live shows apart from the rest?
Jeff: Our interaction with the crowd, in particular. Trying to make it as personal as possible, and bringing that energy every time.

What’s been your most memorable set thus far?
Jeff: Bonnaroo was my favorite, that was probably my favorite set.
Kevin: Sloss was another. The Bonnaroo/Sloss back to back combination was pretty epic. just the crowd size and crowd reaction was just absolutely overwhelming. You could physically feel the energy from the crowd. Those two in particular were the most intense I’ve ever felt.

What did you do with your first advance?
Jeff: Got a place to sleep at. We were living out the back of our car in Ocean Beach, California. I dropped out of college for music. Kevin and I drove down here from Sacramento, and we lived in our car for six months. We slept on our best friend, Mike Gao, this producer’s couch.

I love Mike Gao! That’s a legend.
Jeff: He’s like the other brother. He helped us through everything. He fed us, gave us a place to sleep. The “Stay High” song and the “Your Soul” song, that was recorded at his house.
Kevin: That was all made Mike’s apartment, on Mike’s speakers. He’s gone above and beyond for me and Jeff, like as a person. If Hippie Sabotage had a mentor, it would be Mike Gao. The world probably doesn’t know Hippie Sabotage exists without Mike intermediating in 2013. He was Jeff’s teacher.

He went to UCSD?
Jeff: He was the professor. Swear to God. Mike’s a genius, straight up.
Kevin: Mike’s extremely educated.

What was he teaching?
Jeff: Electronic Music.

Why did he stop?
Jeff: Because of us. [laughs] We put out the “Stay High” remix, and that’s when I dropped out of school. He saw us living out the back of our car, sleeping on his couch and making it. That’s when he was like, “I got to do this.”

Was he kind of managing you then? What was it that made him quit his job?
Jeff: No. He was just like our best friend, and he was just so much better than us.
Kevin: He knows everything about making beats. Mike’s always been a “go for it“ kind of guy.

What was it that made him quit his job?
Jeff: He saw the power in going out and doing this shit. He’d been teaching for a while.
Kevin: Mike’s always been a “go for it“ kind of guy, so any sort of push in any sort of direction… Mike was always destined for success.

How important is social media for your career?
Kevin: It’s very, very important. It’s a way to stay connected with fans, and it also helps spread music. Even though there can be negative downsides to it, like just staring at your phone all the time, that can be unhealthy. But it does allow your music to spread in ways that it wouldn’t otherwise, so it’s a blessing.
Jeff: I am honestly off the phone most of the time, but social media is a way of sharing your ideas.

3 things you need in the studio?
Kevin: Coffee, weed, and maybe Chipotle.
Jeff: Blunts, water and coffee.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
Kevin: I’ll be running political campaigns for the DNC.
Jeff: I’d be an art teacher or something.
Kevin: Jeff would be a really dope art teacher. [laughs]

What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
Kevin: This girl Jackie, she’s come to a million of our shows. Shout out to you, Jackie (she’ll probably read this). Just saying how much she liked it and how many shows she’s came to. Even on days when we were super tired and we didn’t know she’s going to be there. It’s just a happy feeling. She’s always right in the front of the crowd.

Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Kevin: Ourselves, and Young Dolph. He’s the best.
Jeff: That’s all Kevin listens to! We were in Oslo, Norway, listening to Young Dolph.

I know positivity is a huge message you hope to convey through your music. What was your initial reaction to Mac MIller’s passing?
Jeff: Absolutely, absolutely tragic. It’s really, really, really sad honestly. [pause] It’s just a tragedy.
Kevin: It’s just sad. Just him as a young artist, he was a pioneer for the internet, and coming up through your own means.

What do you think needs to happen in the world?
Jeff: I think people should step out of themselves a little bit, and have compassion for their neighbor. The understanding and perspective we would get from doing that would help push society in a much better direction.

What advice do you have for an aspiring Hippie Sabotage?
Jeff: Do it yourself.
Kevin: Become a hybrid Youtuber/musician, and don’t sign to anybody. Build your own fan base, throw up your middle finger, and you will be rich beyond belief.

Really? Is that how you guys kind of broke, on YouTube?
Kevin: We broke in a variety of ways. We had gone viral a couple times before “Stay High,” with our early beat tapes. So when “Stay High” took off, there was kind of a base. Not a gigantic one, but there was a base of fans that were attached to it. That’s what I say: be Casey Neistat, but you can make beats.

What do mom and dad think?
Jeff: They love it. They’re psyched. Our mom is on the table screaming at our shows. Our dad will get in the mosh pits.
Kevin: It’s great. [laughs]

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