“Over 1 billion streams”: That's what's plastered across the press release sent out to promote local EDM duo Hippie Sabotage's 2018 national tour. Brothers Kevin and Jeff Saurer are rightfully proud of that statistic, too. Even in this modern world, where streaming music is the norm, there’s so much music online to listen to that reaching 1 billion is quite the achievement.
It must be especially satisfying for a pair of siblings who started making music together at the age of 12 and never looked back after that.
“We were in sixth or seventh grade,” Jeff says. “We’ve been making music ever since and took it seriously about 2009 or 2010, I think. That when we started Hippie Sabotage. Shortly after that, we started putting out instrumental albums.”
EP Vacants came out in 2013, followed by the Johnny Long Chord EP and The Sunny Album the following year. 2016 saw the release of Providence, the Options EP and Vibes. The “only” output last year was Drifter. All are blessed with the distinctive Hippie Sabotage sound, though the guys admit that has evolved over the years.
“I think we started doing hip-hop productions, and it led to instrumental hip-hop beat tapes,” Jeff says. “It transformed into a more electronic thing once EDM came to the fore. Now we're on a more live jam, guitar, live solo type of vibe. So I think it's really gone through a wide progression that’s been heavily influenced by us going from not being a live act to doing shows over the last couple of years.”
The pair, who grew up in Sacramento but now live in Venice, gained inspiration for their unusual band name from their family, oddly enough.
“It starts with H.S. being our dad's initials and our grandfather's initials, so it's a bit of a family thing,” Kevin says. “And then I think it represents both sides of the coin and both sides of the personality that we bring — both the hippie and the sabotage.”
As well as those 1 billion streams, Hippie Sabotage has managed to get 82,000 Facebook likes, 205,000 Soundcloud followers and equally impressive numbers elsewhere on social media platforms. Those are genuine measures of success nowadays, and the project is proudly flying its SoCal flag high as it gathers momentum.
“We grew up respecting the Low End Theory thing and everything that Flying Lotus had done to elevate the beat scene over the past decade, so I think we were certainly influenced by that,” Jeff says. “Kendrick [Lamar] and all the West Coast rappers — we love that shit.”
Months after the release of Drifter, the Hippies say that they're always working on new material, but they're currently concentrating on the tour.
“Honestly, we always have something new in the background,” Kevin says. “Right now, we've really just been focusing on making a whole new live set, like we do every year, that we're going to do all year, and that just involves making a lot of new beats that we either won't release or, if people react to them enough, we might end up putting them out. The singer that we’re taking on the road with us, her name is Daisy Guttridge. We're super excited about her project as well.”
English singer Guttridge is one hell of a talent, though, having worked with the likes of Tove Lo. The Hippie Sabotage brothers know how to pick them, and that know-how has translated to a lot of great shows over the years.
“I think Coachella 2016, New Orleans, and we’ve played Boston three times, and it’s been pretty wild,” Kevin says. “House of Blues Baltimore was wild last time. Honestly, it changes with every tour. The exciting part of touring is seeing which city is going to be the wildest, because it does change from year to year. Always, our California shows are just insane, so L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento and Santa Barbara. California has always supported Hippie Sabotage. Those are usually swamped.”
This week, Hippie Sabotage return to the Novo, the scene of two greats sets last year. Naturally, the guys are excited to come back, and they're bringing a stellar set with them.
“You can expect a completely new set with a lot of beautiful moments, and we have about triple the size of production rig as we had last year,” Jeff says. “A huge LED wall. It will be a psychedelic and trippy experience for sure.”
After that, Hippie Sabotage head out to Europe to try to break that market with a 15-show tour. At this point, they have a ton of great material to take with them, and they've improved massively as performers. Just, y'know, don't get into any fights, lads.
Hippie Sabotage play with Lil Xan, Melvv and Azizi Gibson at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Novo, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown; (213) 765-7000; $24.50-$80.