For our next installment of #MDInterviews, we get to know The Happy Hippo Family.
The Happy Hippo Family is a Swedish pop-rock band formed in Öland, the country’s second-largest island that floats atop the Baltic Sea. Like the fertile, yet rocky farmlands of their home, The Happy Hippo Family’s music is a blend of bold rock and carefree pop sounds. The indie band has released 7 singles, one EP, one album on their own label as well as two albums in Japan (that’s right – The Happy Hippo Family is huge in Japan). Their newest album was funded via Kickstarter, where they earned the equivalent of nearly $13,000 U.S. to finance the project, the release of which is anticipated by many U.S., Scandinavian, and Japanese fans alike.
MD: First off, thanks for sitting down with us. The first question that I am sure you get all the time, how was the name “The Happy Hippo Family” created?
The Happy Hippo Family: You know that every band has to have some mysteries in their history to be interesting? Well…. We’ve always argued of how we came up with the name and it has become our own myth since no one really seem to remember. The more time that goes by, the harder it gets to actually remember how it happened. We’re stuck down into two versions though, so it must be one of them for sure. First version is that we all were drunk and decided that everyone has to say one real stupid band name and the most stupid would win. The other version is that we all wrote single words on small stickers and then put them together into a band name… and no matter what the reality is – I think we all can agree that it’s a pretty shitty band name… a name that gets us recognized only by the stupid name though.
MD: Tell us a little about your new album & when it will be released.
The Happy Hippo Family: We actually did a Kickstarter crowd funding campaign to fund it and managed to set a budget on almost 11 000 USD to record it. That overwhelmed us and put a lot of pressure on us… but we took a year to write new material and recorded it in a month, mixed it for another couple of months… and now it’s done. It feels and sounds more like a band than our previous stuff and we think it is the best we’ve ever created. We’ve always been inspired by the British indie scene - maybe our audience can start hearing that for the first time now as well. The release plan is to release the album during next year… A couple of singles will be released to start with – first one in November hopefully – at least for UK and Scandinavia, where we have our partners that we work with. The rest of the world probably has to wait until early next year for the first single… Well, it’s a rough plan, not all set yet.
MD: I have been a big fan of yours for a while here at Music Dealers, how would you compare your new album to the sound of your past records?
The Happy Hippo Family: The first thing that comes to mind is that we sound more like a band. We wanted to catch more of a live feeling and capture our live energy… Everything becomes a bit more rough while being played live and I think that stuck on the recordings as well. The songs also work more like a unit – we do not mix ska rhythm’s with rock riffs and rap bridges anymore… It’s a more smooth blend of songs and the music is more well written to be honest – we really lay down our souls in this one…
MD: Something outside of the box that you guys were able to do was release your own beer while aligning it with your single “Summer Serenade.” How did that idea come to light and how did the public like the idea? Do you think it helped gain a lot of new fans for the band?
The Happy Hippo Family: Well, first thing first - we like beer… or more love than like actually… not the basic cheap stuff that you can buy everywhere, but the local brewed and more interesting beers. I guess you can call us a bunch of beer nerds actually. We’ve seen bigger artists and celebrities release their own brands and thought that why can’t we do the same. We found a brewery in Sweden that have some brilliant blends and flavors, teamed up, got it done and held a press conference in our home town while inviting TV, radio and local bar owners. It went really well! We even got a sobriety organization to do an interview about us, our music and our beer on TV, where they called us a bad influence and said that we should be ashamed…After that, we thought a long time of releasing a whiskey as well but we haven’t come that far yet…It would be nice to fire it up a little again though… We were very amused by the discussion.
MD: You guys performed at Bråvalla festival in Sweden. What was that like? What was your favorite part about playing that festival?
The Happy Hippo Family: It was awesome! We’ve all spent our teenage years around at festivals and to perform at the big ones has always been a dream. Favorite part was that it was really crowded even though we played early as hell… and our loyal group of true best friends was not at first row… It was other people… That was the most amazing part - It felt real! Ha-ha!
“Summer Serenade (Desmond Jones Remix)” Live at Bråvalla Festival
MD: There have been quite a few Sweden bands that have a lot of success here in the States with their sound. What do you think makes Swedish bands easily relatable to audiences around the world? What makes Swedish band’s sound special?
The Happy Hippo Family: Many would say that we have our free public music classes that almost every kid joins… but we’re not that sure.. I remember they made me play classical guitar when all I wanted was to play rock… so none of us lasted that long in there I guess. It could also be a mix of that “forced to learn an instrument with classical music”-theory along with some awesome music history. We have a long history of influential bands, songwriters and producers… and the old have had a tendency to take new and young talent under their arms to create new history…
MD: What are some artists/bands that you guys draw inspiration from?
The Happy Hippo Family: We loved The Libertines when we started this band, but no one can hear that influence. The Wombats are more of an inspiration that probably could be heard on the new record… We can sum it up with British indie pop/rock. Then there’s a bunch of Swedish 90’s indie bands that were around when we were kids… We’ve had many people saying we sound like the 90’s Swedish indie scene…
MD: Any plans for a tour, a new project or anything else exciting?
The Happy Hippo Family: Yes, plenty of plans surrounding the new releases. Mostly European plans… but also in Japan where we have released two albums already – would be super nice to go back there. US are of course in our minds as well but will probably have to wait until next year. We need to find the right partners and work a little bit on our budget to be able to do what we want to do.
MD: Time to put yourself in the shoes of a supervisor or brand head. List two songs from your album and what brand/TV show you feel they would align with.
The Happy Hippo Family: Two Blocks Down and That’s What She Said… Two really hooky songs – where Two Blocks Down have more of a synth sound and That’s What She Said is more guitar driven… They’re both really likable songs - if you like music, you should love them. .. Then we have the dream scenarios as well – we have a song named Christina that should be the obvious soundtrack to Dr. Christina Yang in Greys Anatomy – We’ll be mad as hell if that don’t happen, ha-ha! … And I can just imagine where our song Fuck Tonight will be placed, ha-ha-ha!
MD: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Best of luck in the future & I look forward to much more success with licensing your new tunes!
The Happy Hippo Family: Thanks a lot, we should do this more often!
Interview by Rob Lindquist, Music Dealers