Hippo Campus: Comfort for Growing Pains

Post Author: Victoria Ruiz

Hippo Campus is a band out of Minneapolis with music that provides comfort to the pains of growing up. Their new album, landmark, is out February 24th via Grand Jury Music (US) and Transgressive Records (UK). It was meticulously recorded in Minnesota and Texas. In Texas they recorded at the largest recording complex in the world under the production of BJ Burton (Bon Iver, Sylvan Esso).
Rolling Stone called Hippo Campus, “blissful indie rock,” and that is exactly what they provide. Their music is not necessarily a challenge– but that is ok. Their music is like an inquiry in the diaries of boyhood for these young midwestern musicians. Impose spoke with the group while they were driving on the road. The early 20s indie rockers shared that the album is a reflection of the last two years they have spent together as a band. As the band’s Nathan Stocker put it, “the album is a symbol of us setting up shop with what we are doing and trying not to force anything that might feel unnatural.”
One of the singles off the album, “Boyish,” opens up with a roaring sound filled with horn, synth, percussion, sounds to make a catchy intro that leads into a fast paced vocal recounting the feelings of learning how to deal with truth. As Nathan shared, the song is about, “putting aside grudges and forging your own path. It deals with divorce and brokenness in families and understanding that you have a chance to make things better for yourself. Boyish being young and naive at heart but growing into issues.” The use of staccato horn sounds and barreling drums is a joyous anthem for having to deal with the very personal realities of relationships that may have seemed so permanent and so sacred being broken and the difficulty of understanding change. While Hippo Campus’ driving indie ballads are very personal, there are themes and ideas that so many of their listeners can probably relate to even if the music is not really so much about a universal message but about a documentation of these four young men who met in high school and have dedicated themselves to their music. “It depends on the song, but everything that we write is personal to us. But, we understand that there’s a duality of the artist and the audience. We kind of have to play both games of thinking about what the audience is thinking about and what we are going through and singing about.”

Their recordings very much get at the duality of both heartfelt music and carefully stitched together indie pop tracks. At first listen, the album is very easy to listen to and can be imagined on indie radio station, cafe listening, weekend morning laundry, but then when you dig deeper, so of the songs have room for more inquiry into what the band is expressing and sharing about a journey that has many forks in the road. The song “Monsoonish,” is a more low-key ballad with soft vocals that enlighten the building sounds that build a song about death and how those of us still leaving interact and feel about the death of those we love. Brandon explained, “’Monsoonish’ is about going through the death of a loved one and feeling guilty about not feeling a guilty grief and accepting that life was good and it’s not about the potential but about the actuality. It’s about our relationship to death.”
While the band’s aesthetic is a mix of hardworking, polished musicians and nonchalant men who could care less about what you think about them, it is clear that they are devoted to the music they are making and sharing it with as many people as possible. They will be touring with their new album this year as well as playing at SXSW. They are a reminder that in the midst of all that is happening in the world, many people are still growing up and dealing with walking through the doors of adulthood.
Keep up with the guys here.