Brothers Jeff and Kevin Saurer, better known as the EDM duo Hippie Sabotage, spent their childhood in Sacramento watching skate videos and making music together. Their debut 2013 EP, Vacants, helped garner the group with international acclaim when one of the tracks, their remix of Tove Lo’s “Habits (Stay High),” became an overnight hit. Since then, the producers have released multiple albums, toured the world and claimed the number one spot on Billboard’s Next Big Sound chart.
Hippie Sabotage begin their six-week Legends of the Fall tour today with a pre-Austin City Limits set at Emo’s in Austin. Before they set out on the road, PRØHBTD chatted with Jeff and Kevin about life on tour, what inspires their work and how staying high all the time has worked in their favor.
You guys just got back from playing Burning Man at the infamous Camp Questionmark. How did that experience compare to other fests you’ve done?
Jeff: As a festival, it’s the most put together as far as the actual people attending and building the camps and art installations. It just beats everything we’ve ever been to.
Kevin: The amount of thought, time, money and pure sweat equity that people put into the art was truly amazing to see. They say you can’t really see it all, and you don’t really understand that until you’re there. We were only there for a day and a half because we had to fly to another festival, but we had the whole RV and bike setup. We started biking from noon to when our set time was at midnight, and we still weren’t able to see the whole thing. It would take you a couple of days just to get your bearings.
Was there a crystalizing moment when you realized your take on “Habits (Stay High)” had moved beyond successful remix into the realm of life-changing career moment?
Jeff: I think when Tove Lo finally reached out to us personally and wanted to do something with the song, that’s when it felt like we might be able to do some things. But it really started going from the first day we put it out, so we thought it was good. We obviously had no idea it would be on that scale.
What sort of baggage, if any, comes with having a breakout song so tied to the work of another artist? Does it leave a chip on your shoulder, give you imposter syndrome or simply make you work extra hard to make the next one even better?
Kevin: Honestly, we’re just proud to be a part of it. We came up as hip-hop heads. We love sampling. So, to create a sample record like that and have our production style debut in that way… every hip-hop producer wants to make a stoner classic, and this gave us the opportunity to do that and we’re super stoked on it.
You’re big tour guys. What do you do for fun while on the road to break up the monotony? Any pit stops scheduled for this coming tour?
Jeff: We hit every Waffle House we see. We eat a lot of that, and smoke weed on the road. Honestly, we’ll get a suite and watch a ton of Forensic Files and Naked and Afraid. The last tour and a half, we’ve been trying to bring our mobile studio setup with us, make music on the road and be kind of productive since we’re on the road three quarters of the year.
Kevin: But with the show schedule what it is, sometimes we just have to focus on sleeping and recovering. It’s kind of mundane, really, but making sure that mind, body and spirit are well taken care of always makes the show better.
You’ve said before that you were inspired to make music by watching skate videos as kids. Which classic videos do you think have the best soundtracks?
Kevin: éS’ Menikmati was a big one for us.
Jeff: Transworld’s In Bloom. We had the subscription of the 411 videos back in the day, and they always used old hip-hop beats in the background with Hi-Tek or whomever. Just hearing that combined with skating…
Kevin: We were obsessed with it.
You guys live in Venice. Do you hit the famous skate park there often?
Jeff: We skate the rail and flat ground pretty often, like four or five days a week. But we’re still afraid a little bit. Concrete is not forgiving. Sometimes the mind is more ambitious than what the body can handle.
How does cannabis factor into your creative process?
Jeff: We definitely smoke a lot of weed while we’re making music. It’s a good conversation starter, especially when we’re working with other people, just to spark an idea and get the ball rolling.
Kevin: Weed is tight. That’s really our take on that. Very bold statement to make in 2019, I know.
Which other artists have been inspiring you lately?
Kevin: The new J.I.D album is pretty great.
Jeff: YBN Cordae’s album is great, and the new A$AP is dope.
Kevin: DJ Mustard just put out an album called Perfect Ten and that shit’s pretty hard. Anything and everything, but we stick to rap and hip-hop primarily.
At times, even the most fun jobs can drag a bit, so what do you do to bring energy to each performance and keep things exciting for yourselves?
Jeff: We psych each other up for the shows. I’m yelling at Kevin, and he’s jumping and getting the crowd hyped. Vice versa, Kevin’s yelling at me to go out there with the guitar and start soloing. Us being brothers, we just…
Kevin: Play off each other’s energy while we’re on stage, and we really enjoy it, so it’s not like a big deal to us. We were always shy behind the scenes as producers and what we envisioned for ourselves, so the fact that we’re so comfortable on stage means we just enjoy that.
Jeff: We just play our show and go wild.