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Hippie Sabotage. It’s a name that has become associated with controversy in the dance music world. The Sacramento duo burst onto the scene in 2013 with their encapsulating, bass-bolstered remix of Tove Lo’s “Stay High” — a single which put both the artist and the kinship producing pair on the map. Following a brief tizzy with security at Electric Forest 2016, the brothers were also caught on camera assaulting security guards following a spat over malfunctioning equipment at last year’s What The Festival. Negative press abounded. Fans began wondering whether these acts of violence would be isolated incidents or routine occurrences.
Still, Hippie Sabotage’s music speaks for itself and their ability to draw large crowds has landed them bookings at Something Wicked, Moonrise, as well as this year’s editions of BUKU Music + Arts Project and Lollapalooza. Currently in the thick of their massive Path of Righteousness Tour, the brothers are choosing to focus on the positive elements of life and spreading the message of love and peace on which their musical moniker stands.
As readers might well know, however, even the hippie lifestyle isn’t always one of flowers and rainbows. Everyone has an inner darkness that confronts them every-so-often through life. It’s how one learns to confront their demons, and balance it with their light elements, that dictates their humanity. That’s what the name Hippie Sabotage boils down to for these guys — embracing a subversive lifestyle and injecting the counter culture into their own unique little musical movement.
Dancing Astronaut sat down with brothers Kevin and Jeff Saurer at this year’s BUKU festival to discuss living their most authentic selves, along with a range of issues from their current tour, expanding their production, upcoming collaborations, and going on record over the dreaded security officer brawl that they allege was twisted by the media.
Photo cred: Isné Bobo Nuyent
First question: So how did you come to be named Hippie Sabotage?
K: Well, HS are our father’s initials. When I was in the third grade, they had us make these leather lanyards with your parent’s initials, so I wrote HS on there. And then when I was 16, I was given that back by my mom and dad and I always had it on my keychain. So I think subconsciously that’s where it comes from. Then the “hippie” and the “sabotage” represent both sides of our different personalities.
DA: Who’s the hippie and who’s the sabotage?
K: [laughs] I don’t know, it changes day-to-day.
DA: The mark of a good dynamic duo.
K: Jeff smoked all the weed. He’s definitely the sabotage.
DA: We thought it was just about sabotaging hippies.
J: We’re trying to start a counter culture movement. Hippies, you know, they’re defined as lazy people. We’re about hippies and love and peace. We’re like that, but we get shit done.
DA: Yea, we work hard and we play hard.
K: Which is why I think Hippie Sabotage means subversive action.
DA: Oh, that’s awesome. What does subversive mean to you in this sense?
K: Just, uh, going left when everyone goes right.
J: We took acid for the first time years ago and we watched that documentary Samsara. It’s one of those time-lapses [where] it was a city, like New York, and it was going super fast, and everyone was going in one direction and not a single person was going out of the pack. That was our whole revelation — we just gotta go the opposite direction.
DA: And that’s works really well for dance music community, or just music in general, is that whole counter cultural embracing of your weirdness, your otherness.
K: Just trying to live our most authentic selves and make music that we feel is most authentic to us.
DA: So speaking of music, you got anything in the works? Any big collaborations that you’re excited about?
K: We got some hot fire beats.
J: We’ve got an EP with ZZ Gibson that’s about to drop. He’s a really dope rapper on a song called “—-”
K: He’s been opening with us on the Path of Righteousness tour.
J: Alex Wiley, another rapper is another rapper we’re working with.
K: The song we did with him and his producer, Mike Gaal, was on The Shining, so we’re super honored by that collab.
J: And Kaleedo came over to our crib to work on some new stuff. Yea, so it’s really whoever comes our way.
DA: You guys use a lot of unreleased music in your sets that I haven’t heard on your albums, so how do you decide which ones to release.
K: I think it’s a combination.
J: Yea, uh, it’s a totally different mindset. One is the stuff we put out and the other is the stuff to get people hype, you know? We have a lot of beats that we play in the set but we never put out because we know that for thirty seconds it will get people to jump. It’s not the most artistic vision we want to put out there for a listening experience on Spotify or Soundcloud. So when we’re putting stuff out there, we’re more focused on the listening side.
DA: Yea, so do you kind of just play your sets impromptu kind of feeling your audience? Or do you have a planned pathway?
K: We’ve got like 55 of our beats that we’ve made and we present it. Sometimes, you know, like, we have a structure for how we want to do it and then just depending on how we feel the crowds going depends on how we pace it. If they want bang, bang, bang, super drops, then we’ll do it. But sometimes we’ll draw it out, talk a little bit, maybe explain it a little bit, like what the song means to us
DA: Do you guys communicate telepathically during sets?
J: We yell at each other [laughs] He’ll hit me in the back of the head or something. Nah, but it’s real easy because we’re both on the same page 100% of the time. If the crowd’s going crazy, we just keep amping them up. If they’re more vibey, I’ll get out there with the guitar and start going solo.
DA: So how’s the tour been going?
K: Amazing. Beyond our wildest expectations, honestly. Year after year more people have been showing up for our shows and it’s been getting bigger year after year. We’re super humbled. This is like show 29 or 30 at BUKU so it’s absolutely just like an amazing year to start 2018 for us, just to get to talk to the fans. It also gives us some sort of creative framework to see our way forward.
DA: So we’ve got to ask this question. There’s something that went down in a set. We don’t really know the full extent of the story, and behalf of everyone else wondering, we want to hear what happened from your perspective.
K: Uh, here’s what I’ll say… I am bummed out that there were people there, especially Hippie fans, that felt disappointed by our performance. That bums be out. I never want to go on stage to disappoint people who have spent their hard earned dollars to come see us, so regardless of how I feel about how the situation went down, this way or that way, I do acknowledge responsibility there. It wasn’t a good show, you know? [shrugs] And that’s not what we’re about. We’re about bringing the energy for the fans, making sure everybody had fun, and, just, you know, like I said, being positive. Our shows bring joy to people and that’s one thing that I feel like is missed. Regardless, I just want to bring that joy.
J: We come amped up for our our shows. We put our lives…
K: We’re putting our lives on the line every time we go out there so…
J: The internet is completely wrong on what happened, but I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus.
DA: I think fans sometimes have an expectation for their favorite artists, especially, and they don’t take into consideration that you’re humans too, and that everybody has an off day.
J: Yea, exactly. We did have an off day and I’m sorry that I disappointed the people that paid to come see us. Regardless of what happened behind the scenes, that bums me out. That’s not what we’re about. We try as hard as we possibly can to show that to people. We’re about positivity and joy and respect.
DA: Alright well thanks for taking the time to talk with us today.
K: Go crazy in the comments, internet!
DA: Good luck with your set.
J: Hey, thank you so much.
All photos by Christian Miller and Dianna Marie Shelley, unless otherwise noted.