Hippie Tribe - Sound In The Signals Interview

Chris Spivey 

I recently had the opportunity to interview blond.bomber and dp.thuH of Hippie Tribe. We discussed how they met and formed the band, how music chose them, their organic approach to blending genres, writing and recording new capsule, Gullah Punk: mod 1, how they are giving back to their community, lyrical inspiration, and more. Check it out below. 

First, thanks for the interview.


blond.bomber: Appreciate yall, thank you for checking out our music. It means more than ya know forreal. 

Can you tell me how you got together and formed the group for those who may be unfamiliar? How did you initially become interested in music?


dp.thuH: We met back in college playing football - one year during camp, I was on my way to a meeting and as I’m walking up the stairs, I hear someone going crazy on piano. I keep walking over and it’s Niko [blond.bomber] - I’m in complete shock because I’ve been around dude all summer and never once did it come up that he was a lil Beethoven. We were already hella cool but after that it definitely turned up. We were always talking about chune, freestyling at parties, etc. That just kept growing and eventually we decided to make a song. We sampled “High By the Beach” by Lana Del Rey and produced around it. We were big into Black Hippy at that point so naturally, Niko came up with “Hippie Tribe” for our band name. We dropped the record and within like 3-4 weeks, it ran up like 100k streams on Soundcloud….didn’t need much more of a sign than that to keep goin. 

blond.bomber: Both of us grew up playing in the church. I’ve been classically trained in piano since I was like 8 and Dee has been playing drums his whole life. So we feel like music chose us a long time ago. It's not something we can really escape. We hear it everywhere, in everything. We started making music because we really wanted to write and produce for the biggest acts out there and score movies - but it’s kind of a catch twenty-two. People don’t want to work with you until you show them your work, but you can’t show anyone your work because no one will work with you. So we started making our own records as demos to present to other artists. That all changed because people really rocked with our sound - I guess that's just something neither of us really thought would be a thing.

You blend genres and have a cool sound. How do you approach blending the genres and what influences your sound? 


dp.thuH: It’s all hella organic. Our sounds and records are just iterations of reflections of the sounds we’ve heard our whole lives. I grew up learning how to make music and arrangements in gospel choirs. I didn’t have any traditional training and I can’t read music so I learned everything by ear. The fusion that happens in Gospel music - blues, rock, funk, jazz, etc. - makes it so that it’s more natural for me to do some off the wall shit than to “stay inside the lines”. Blending genres is easy, especially when you study the intricacies and emotional drivers that specific textures, tones and key progressions provide. 

blond.bomber: It varies a lot, inspiration is everywhere - like you could be sitting at the park and words come to you or with your homies or having sex or dreaming. We just let things flow as organically as possible. So sometimes Dee will have a beat that inspires me or someone will come in with some bars they came up with on the random. We really just let the universe decide. All of my family members are musicians too so I was born into music. I mean, we literally sing in harmony at all child births. Like Dee said, we both grew up playing in the church so the first exposure, our foundation was Gospel which incorporates a lot of different genres - and it’s eccentric but it’s still subtle in a lot of ways, still familiar. There’s a lot of dynamics within the compositions - that’s all relevant in our music and productions. We try to keep the instruments minimalistic and shape it around the voices - incorporating those little moments that pop out to the listener. 


You have released a new capsule ‘Gullah Punk: mod 1’. Can you tell me about the writing and recording process for it?


blond.bomberGullah Punk: mod 1, is the first of several capsules we’ll be dropping leading up to the full length project. We’ve always been pretty eclectic with our sound but over the past couple of years, we’ve been really focused on creating dynamics within minimalistic production. We love to rap and we love to rage so rock and hip-hop have been tethered. This two-pack is littered with little moments of perfectly balanced raw emotion, vulnerability and disorderliness. I think we’re like 70/30 when it comes to freestyling versus writing so it doesn’t take us long to make records once we have production, or vice-versa, it isn’t hard to produce once we have lyrics or a melody.

These capsules will be both auditory and visual - we’re releasing a series of shorts leading up to a short film. We pitched our film to a few directors and now we’re blessed to have this incredible production company believe in our vision and mission. Along with the drops, we’ve also put together a few community events in Bedstuy. We just hosted the first annual Von King Woodstock, our donation based music festival. With the proceeds, we started a breakfast program and will be donating coats to kids in central Brooklyn this winter. So our music project has sort of turned into a living, breathing movement.

dp.thuH: The goal for the project and accompanying events is two-fold; 

We love music and the arts so if our presence and efforts allow kids to discover a new passion or encourage others in the community to pursue theirs, perfect. The second piece is probably most important for us... we want to ignite a new mindset in our people that together, we have the tools necessary to rewrite our fate. The philosophy is simple - “Kill your demons”. But in order for us to get that done, we got to shine a light into the dark.” 

SANTANA” probably the liveliest joint I ever made and it’s fitting cuz the environment I made it in was hella live [dp laughs]. I was chilling with a friend in Gullah (Hippie Tribe’s home studio) - she’s Afro-Latina so she’s telling me about how growing up, one day she could be hearing Bone-Thugs or Busta or Missy and the next it’s straight Afro-Cubano instrumentals, Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz or Carlos Santana. I had recently watched a masterclass with Carlos Santana so I knew he was big ON African drum patterns and rhythms. 

Now look, I never ever claimed to be a Santana head but shorty started listing off hella records from mans and on everything I probably had heard maybe two or three - now she’s looking at me like I should never make another song in my life. She finally brings up this song, “Oye Como Va ''. I never heard it so we put it on - it had this almost french cafe vibe to it to me but still, it made you want to move.  Well she gets up and gets to dancing and just seeing the way she swayed through the air to the track, watchin her fingers slowly slip above her head and to the lights - I was mesmerized. 

“Somethin’ bout how she danced to Santana' ' popped in my head and looking back, that freedom she felt when the track came on, I was inspired to recreate the feeling I had seeing her react to the music. I hope that makes sense…. I turned the record off and immediately programmed the guitar riff in Logic and I was like, “damn, I feel like this would make Santana make that smush face.” From there, the lyrics were pretty easy - if you’re inspired, don’t sit on the wall and let shit pass you by - especially if it’s something that could change ya life - if it's something that takes your breath.

Billie Dream” is a really interesting song and I like the vibe of it. What were your musical inspirations and influences for it?

dp.thuH: My little brother is a multi-hyphenated creative and he’s been focused on painting for the past couple of years. When JJ gets into something he gets pretty obsessed, so now that we live together, I’ve been exposed to hella visual and fine artists. Have you ever seen the Dali painting where the tigers are about to jump on shorty? One’s coming out of a fish - it’s wicked looking. “Dream caused by the flight of a bee”... For a lot of reasons... (the play on words, the bliss of this lady unaware that she’s bout to get mauled… it all spoke to me and the previous relationship I was healing from at that time. 

Shit, even shorty’s nick-name was Bee. Similar to the lady in the painting, I was in complete bliss at the start of it all - I was in this dream state. As things progressed and started changing, I found myself searching for that feeling, chasing that feeling - I started to neglect myself, confusing sacrifice and compromise. But after a while, I woke up and once I did, I realized how much of a fever dream it all was. The Dali painting’s full title is Dream caused by the flight of a bee - Around a Pomegranate, a Second Before Waking Up. So, I guess “Billie Dream '' was made as a kind of a follow up to the fever dream - it’s like what happened the second after waking up. 

Micheal Jackson’s “Billie Jean” was a big inspiration conceptually and musically. I woke up with the hook in my head and sent a voice memo to Niko and JJ - they hit me back hella quick like “lay that shit”. But I sort of took on the role of the person who was denied by the other partner - so I’m lowkey Billie in this song. I’m running around thinking I’m in love and being loved but in reality, that shit was a facade. But now that I’m aware of the facade, I’ll never let that shit happen again - fool me once, ya know? Musically, I knew I wanted the drums and bassline to be emphasized just like “Billie Jean”. And I knew that during my verse I wanted more of a hip-hop sound and pattern so I could really bar out. All in all, I cooked up 95% of the beat in like 20-30 minutes then Niko came through and added some fixins and from there, the verse was easy. “Billie Dream” was born. 

blond.bomber: dp made this whole thing top to bottom. It started off how it usually does - he just sends me and JJ a voice memo with a hook idea or melody in the middle of the night then by the morning, he cooked a whole beat and got a verse and bridge and alternate ending [bomber & dp laugh]. But basically I just asked him what he needed from me and he said he needed a controlled rage and sticky bars…. like he needed them shits to be mad quotable - I think we pieced the whole record together real well - a great flow of peaks and valleys. And the beat - n****s not making this kind of shit and definitely not spazzing on top of the beats too. 

What are your plans for the remainder of the year?


dp.thuH: We’ve got performances lined up, a few parties and multiple visuals dropping. We’re also curating art exhibitions with my brother and his company, Found.Wonder. Our goal is to methodically introduce a new culture in Bedstuy focused on the arts. So don’t be surprised when you’re seeing random installations on more corners than bodegas in the next couple of years. We’re building it up now. 


Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

dp.thuH: We appreciate all the support and glad y'all enjoyed the records. Stay locked in - we’re those ones. Don’t just watch, come join the Tribe. 

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