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At first glance Kevin and Jeff Saurer don’t look like an electronic duo who have a remix that has 250 million+ plays on Spotify and 500 million+ views on YouTube. One wouldn’t necessarily peg the two brothers as one of the hottest live EDM acts right now either. As the duo’s name might suggest, Kevin and Jeff look like two dudes out of an Almost Famous-esque movie about the counterculture era or other classic rock adventure film.
However when sitting down with Kevin and Jeff and hearing their perspective on producing, performing, and life in general, it’s easy to see why Hippie Sabotage has succeeded in standing out in the contemporary EDM scene. They have captured the vibe that millions of EDM fans crave with deep bass and music one could downright rage to. At the same time, though, the Saurer brothers have approached their identity as artists with a mentality that emulates the rock stars of the past who changed hearts and minds with their positivity and mission to simply have a good time with each other and their fans.
Kevin and Jeff are originally from Sacramento, California. Growing up in the Bay Area, they spent a lot of time in the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, one of the centers of the counterculture movement in the late 1960s. That’s partially where the inspiration for Hippie Sabotage came from. H.S. is also their father’s initials. Kevin explained that ever since he and his younger brother Jeff started Hippie Sabotage, their goal has always been to create something that is “outside of the traditional system,” much like the hippies and musicians in the counterculture movement.
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The two brothers are extremely close. They’re only three years apart, and have been making music since their middle school/high school years.
“We grew up skateboarding and we made skate videos as kids,” younger brother Jeff said. “We’d always notice that there were really cool beats behind people skating and once we started doing our own videos we wanted to make the music for it too.”
The brothers have been producing together ever since those early years, not even letting their time apart in college cause a lull in their production process. Kevin attended Arizona State and studied political science and Jeff went to University of California San Diego as a music major.
When they produce, it involves a ton of arguing, thinking, and listening according to older brother Kevin. They explained that between the two of them, Jeff is more melodically inclined due to his classical training on the guitar, and Kevin is more rhythmically inclined. The combination of their skills, though, has allowed them to put out content ever since the mid-2000s.
Their Vacants EP released in 2013 was Hippie Sabotage’s first major compilation of original content, however it wasn’t until 2014 when Jeff and Kevin’s lives changed immensely.
In 2014, Swedish pop star Tove Lo released her hit song “Habits (Stay High).” Initially the song was entitled just “Habits.” Kevin and Jeff immediately put out a remix of the song called “Stay High,” and what happened next catapulted Hippie Sabotage into EDM stardom.
“I’ll put it to you like this: I feel like we’re playing in the pros and I feel like with that song we won rookie of the year,” Kevin said.
Their “Stay High” remix of “Habits” was a hit. Kevin and Jeff said that because the two songs initially weren’t paired with one another, “Habits” and “Stay High” became some of the most mis-searched terms on iTunes in 2013. This eventually caused Tove Lo to re-name her song “Habits (Stay High)” and incorporate Hippie Sabotage’s remix on her album Queen of the Clouds. Jeff said that Tove Lo loved the remix when she first heard it.
Before Hippie Sabotage’s first show, their “Habits (Stay High)” remix had over 200 million views on YouTube. Currently it has amassed 500 million+ views on YouTube and 250 million+ plays on Spotify. This was huge for them, and both are grateful for the positive reception. However like true musicians, Kevin and Jeff easily get more of a rush from playing in front of a live crowd.
“Shows enabled us to have a whole new perspective about what we were doing,” Kevin said. “You can’t substitute a lot of views on the Internet with seeing a thousand people go crazy to that same song.”
Hippie Sabotage make a point to have crowd interaction as one of the key elements of their live sets. Kevin and Jeff will switch off on the mixing board and constantly jump down to the crowd and dance with the lucky few who are able to get spots up front. Jeff will occasionally whip out his guitar throughout each night’s set as well. However the best part of a Hippie Sabotage set is when Kevin and Jeff play their “Habits (Stay High)” remix and bring up as many people from the crowd as the venue’s security will allow. It’s one of their favorite parts of the show. It all began at one of their early gigs in 2014.
“Our first Santa Barbara show, everybody just jumped up halfway through the show because it was such a small stage,” Jeff said. “It felt like a house party at that point and we’ve just wanted to re-create that vibe every night.”
Hippie Sabotage have a busy tour schedule into April in the U.S. and then will be heading to Europe to play shows and work on more music. They also are slated to play the Summer Camp Music Festival in Illinois this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Their latest album, Providence, came out in the last half of 2016.
The momentum that Hippie Sabotage has generated the past couple of years has put them in a position for continued success. They’re dynamic producers who will never lose their passion for performing and creating for others. At one point in their House of Blues set, they played their hit song “Your Soul.” Prior to starting the song Kevin and Jeff stopped for a second to talk to the crowd about pursuing one’s dreams. This struck me in such a way because in an industry wrought with inflated egos and people forgetting who they are and why they initially got into music, Hippie Sabotage remember where they came from, and if anything strive to inspire their fans with everything they do. Regardless of who you are, where you’re from, or what you do for a living, Hippie Sabotage wants their fans to take time to forget all that for a moment and just dance.
Check out Hippie Sabotage’s official website for the latest news and tour dates. Also check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Adrian is a student at Boston University studying journalism with a concentration in broadcast journalism. He enjoys traveling, playing tennis, and hosting/producing shows for his campus radio and TV station. He is passionate about covering unique people and stories and hopes to be an on-air personality in the future.