Hola everyone.


How are we doing today? I hope so far you’ve all had a great week and that your Friday is going great. Today, guys, I have the honour to share something very very very special with you. Some of you might remember that this February, I finally got see one of my favourite bands live – the one and only Hippo Campus (here’s my post about the show – click me). But that wasn’t the most exciting part, oh no. Easily the best part was that, before the show, I also got to interview them. And yes, I know. How crazy is that? I honestly still can’t believe that this really happened. When I think back to it, it feels like I had some kind of weird fever dream and that it was never real. But it was. I really met and talked to them. And they really were the nicest, coolest and most chill people I’ve ever met. I can’t even begin to describe how eternally grateful I am that I really got to do this. What a dream come true.

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And, so, now that you know this, you also know what this post is all about. Exactly, the interview. But before you get all excited, no, I don’t mean I’m going to spill the beans of the whole experience. Oh no. Even better. Today, I finally get to share the finished piece I wrote about the interview with you. And trust me, I waited quite a while to be able to say this. But I’m so so so glad the day is finally here. So, without further ado, here’s my feature about one of the best bands ever – Hippo Campus.


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THE DEFINITION OF AMBITION

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There comes a point in every band’s existence when the youthful enthusiasm of the early days has to give way to a more sophisticated version of themselves. Formed in 2013, the Minnesota band Hippo Campus was born from a group of high-school friends who were just looking to have a good time. But after releasing their first album, years of touring and gaining popularity, especially in the ranks of indie fans, they suddenly found themselves in a less inspirational atmosphere. They needed a change.

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This special desire to shake things up has always been present in the five piece’s music, and their second album ‘Bambi’ is a liberal, maybe darker, more experimental realisation of exactly that. While their debut release ‘Landmark’ was full of bubbly excitement and youthful lightness, they felt driven to change direction and go that little bit deeper. They wanted an honest reflection of themselves. “I think it was mostly reflective of the times. We were all in this weird kind of state. The stress of creating a second album, there’s a lot of pressure on that. And we didn’t want to have that pressure. It’s darker just because of where we were at that time,”, says Whistler Allen, drummer of the indie group.

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“Part of that was that we felt chewed up a little bit. You get out of high school and after the first couple of years of touring and after the first album, you experience something that isn’t what you thought it was,” adds Nathan Stocker, lead guitarist of the band and co-writer of most of the Hippo tracks. “People suck sometimes and there’s hurt. The process of maintaining the relationships that actually matter to you and to what you’re doing as a musician, artist or whatever you want to call it, gets really tiring.”

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Thus, calling this new era of Hippo Campus “real” would be a strong understatement. As they turned the page to pave the way for ‘Bambi’, the band found freedom in being an open book lyrically, but also personally. “It’s a very vulnerable place to be a songwriter, because it’s like ‘okay, I’m going go outside and use a megaphone to let everybody know what I think and what is going on in my life and feel free to look over my shoulder and hate me or love me’. You’ve got open arms to the world and the audience you have and that’s so scary. Because they can chew you up and spit you out,” Stocker explains and pinpoints the one aspect, the sheer honesty, that gave their newest release a certain feel of relatability. “Really, there’s no reward in it other than making it for the sake of being in that place at all. There’s really no other tangible reward. Even if it resonates with people, it still sucked for me to write.”

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It seems that the American band never shies away from acknowledging the fears and emotions of the current generation, actively addressing issues like the #MeToo movement, mental health or toxic masculinity, and using their album to process and accept them at the same time. Whether it be overwhelming worry (‘Anxious’), inescapable self-doubt (‘Mistakes’) or failing relationships (‘Why Even Try’), ‘Bambi’ covers nearly every area when it comes to the highly personal issues the band members had to face. The album fluctuates between blissful calm to vigorous chaos, while the lyrical discomfort fits in with the awkward, socially uncertain times that they were dealing with.

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And although it’s a reckless existence, the Minnesota five-piece wouldn’t have it any other way – gig by thrilling gig – their path so far has surpassed even their greatest expectations.  Now, it’s even the small issues and tiny stones that stop them in their ways they get excited about. “That’s part of why we love it so much, actually. If you don’t get irritated by little things, then you won’t know that you’re having a ton of fun with your friends every day,” exclaims DeCarlo Jackson, trumpet player and newest addition to the band. Stocker adds, “I’m excited to be irritated by stuff that actually matters. That’s the definition of ambition. It’s tackling problems that actually further us.”

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This is where their newest LP comes into play, as where ‘Landmark’ only touched the surface, ‘Bambi’ dives in head first. It’s the new side of music and writing that the band hopes can shine a light on the gap between reality and society’s expectations of constant perfection. Especially at current times, social media and the pressure that comes with it push down on a lot of bands. A pressure Hippo Campus isn’t willing to accept. “Naturally, if you’re not being the most honest version of yourself, there’s nothing else you could be except somebody else. Because if you’re not being you, then you’re definitely trying to marble yourself after someone else. But you know, sometimes we dress up,” Allen insists.

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It’s this way of wearing their hearts on their sleeves and being their truest forms that seems to capture their fans. Together, they share this powerful connection that has been there from the start and only gotten stronger through their newest release. “The fans are everything,” Stocker agrees. “They just continue to be unbelievable people, who, for whatever reason, love our music. It’s always really bizarre to interact with them. Because it’s like ‘what have I done to deserves this?’. It’s just really good to feel the love and support and to see they’re real people who are experiencing real things and sharing a space with us. I know it could be a lot more segregated in terms of feeling like we have some superior upper hand to them, but it is pretty communal, on and off stage.”

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From the start, always returning to this certain kind of passion and unapologetic honesty, Hippo Campus have looked to create a release that is both enchantingly light and devastatingly dark when it needs to be. While it focuses strongly on issues that clearly mean a lot to the band, the general tone of their newest record is one of optimism, looking for the brief moments of joy in a world with little to spare. And at the end, it’s the sheer love for music that brings them all together and provides the album with its special glow. Stocker concludes: “Music is the most interesting and spiritual example of memory that humans can have, to me. There’s nothing else really that is as fascinatingly metaphysical than the feeling when you listen to a really good song for the first time. For me as a person, there’s no other thing that exists other than memory. In the end, that’s all we have. Our entire progress is based on it, it’s the foundation of life. The fact that we can remember, the fact that I can play my instrument, is entirely based on memory. And music is the prime exemplification and personification of memory. And fin.”

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So, there you go, guys. I dearly hope that you enjoyed reading this piece. Also, please do go and check out this band, they really deserve all the attention they are receiving right now and so much more. Here are all their social media handles: Spotify, YouTube and their official website.

As always, please don’t hesitate to leave your comments and thoughts down below and do please get in contact if you’ve got any questions. And until then, I wish you all an amazing weekend and, of course, thanks for reading. x

Posted by:Laura

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