Interview with Hippo Campus
You may not have heard of this American indie sensation yet, but be sure, you soon will. After being featured in NME, Q and the Guardian as well as being made Hew Stephens ‘Single of the Week’ in 2015, Hippo Campus have a lot to get you excited about. We caught up with lead singer Jake Luppen, AKA ‘Turntan’ to find out all about the four school mates, their inspirations and what they want to bring to the indie music scene.
“When we met at high-school, they were in a post rock band, we were an indie pop band. We competed for the affection of the girls at the school.” Jake was of course talking of how the four of them formed the band as members of their old bands left for college leaving the spare pieces to pursue a career in music.
Before the interview I was struggling to find out the names of the four of them. Wherever I searched all I found was ‘Beans’, ‘Espo’, ‘Turntan’ and ‘Stitches’. This is probably quite pleasing to hear for the boys as anonymity and integrity were two key themes coming from what Jake was saying when we asked what the story was behind these bizarre personas. “When we first started the band we wanted to make our identities kinda, anonymous a bit, so put up nicknames to make it more about the project, the music, and less about ourselves.” Now as they grow bigger more people are finding out their names via social media and the press so the nicknames have become more an in-joke than anything.
The band have released a few singles and a handful of tracks in total and hinted towards a future album for 2017. On intriguing whether they were coming back across the pond for festival season like they did last year, when the played Reading and Leeds, we were surprised to hear “we don’t have anything on the books right now for the UK, mainly this summer we’re focussing on recording our record… we don’t wanna call it an album ‘cus that’s alotta pressure it’s like writing your first novel or something, but yeah, you can expect an album. I think the summer after will be a big one to promote the record.”
As their music reaches further and further across the Globe, their fan base continues to grow. In the US they already have a pretty mean following. Groups of fans seem to follow them around “it’s weird” Jake says in an almost surprised tone, “like predominately 15-year-old girls, I mean we’re not a boyband but I mean we draw that kinda following. It’s like this weird mix between like hipsters and like young girls. Its pretty weird”. “We get some pretty weird gifts, I have a shirt that says ‘Cat Daddy’ on it – doesn’t make any sense – kinda sounds like an innuendo but you dunno if it is or not.” It was clear the boys didn’t seem fazed by the limelight.
It felt inevitable that in an interview with an upcoming band that the topic of musical inspirations and dream performances would come up, and low and behold it did. We weren’t disappointed by Jake’s response. “Obviously if The Beatles opened for us that would be awesome, but anyone would say that, kinda recently I think it’d be kinda cool to tour with Tame Impala, I really like them – But like, Bon Iver, you know, Justin Vernon, much more subdued, that’s the music we like. You make the music you’re good at but you listen to different kinds.” Interestingly, the boys who create such feel good, delirious, upbeat music prefer listening to the likes of Bon Iver and the Paper Kites, artists who have the ability to relax and evoke deep emotions. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Jake tells me they are all Kanye fans (not quite the same mellow sound as Bon Iver) and reckons an area of music they’d love to try would be a combination of their indie tones with hip-hop. Taken back at first by this seemingly bizarre concept I realise the result of euphoric indie vibes mixed with hip-hop could result in something similar to The Lonely Biscuits and that’s not one to be easily faulted.
The eagle eyed amongst you, or those who perhaps know more about the band may know they are a few months shy of the legal drinking age in America, this in combination with them on tour in the UK brought us onto the censored topic of stories from UK tour so far. Jake replied, ‘There’s been a number of nights where one of us has been like drunk and screaming and we’ve had to like pull them away from people.’ I’m told there’s not much more that can be said which I can get away with putting in a featured interview, but judging by the amount of times he nervously uttered “like” I’ll let your mind wonder where that story may go. Jake’s answer was “it’s just to be expected on tour you know.”
Their long term goal was to “keep the shows coming day by day, get bigger, maintain artistic integrity, not have other people write our songs or sell our souls and just make music we’re happy with and continue the buzz.” And if Hippo Campus continue to write more songs like they’re doing at the moment, “the buzz” shows no signs of fizzling anytime soon.
Words by Tom Cadman