Hippie Tribe are a unique duo bringing gospel, punk, and hip-hop together. Vibrantly original and untethered to any specific genre, Hippie Tribe has cultivated a cult-like fanbase within New York’s DIY music scene. Gullah Punk: mod 1, released via their own imprint, OTOLO Records, features the freewheeling tracks “Billie Dream” and “S A N T A N A.” The blood bubbling, punk-rap/Afro-Cubano-fused anthems come as the first capsule of an expansive project that includes film shorts and a music festival. We spoke with the duo about their signature sound, their growth as musicians, and their latest music.
Your signature sound is pretty singular. What artists did you both listen to/bring to the table when first jamming together which led to the music we hear on the Gullah Punk EP?
blond.bomber: Well, where we started and where the Gullah Punk EP are are very different. We both grew up in the church so gospel is our root influence. Then when we started rapping, it was over boom-bap-type beats like Mac Miller or Lil Wayne. Now it’s like hard rock like Jimi Hendrix or Mötley Crüe. We just like whatever sounds good no matter the genre.
How do you think your location of Brooklyn manifests in your music or your sensibilities as artists?
blond.bomber: All the coolest stuff happens in Brooklyn first so we have the luxury of seeing everything before the world sees it. Plus, it’s so alive out here every day. I might talk to a block boy one day, then talk to a middle school kid at the bodega all while I’m on the way to our studio for a meeting with our Parisian film crew. All those moments happening every day makes staying inspired a little easier.
dp.thuH: Yeah, you see a lot of life out here. And then you start imagining how each person got to this point and then what’ll happen next. Now you’re on the train writing episode three’s scripts. It’s really like that. Music, it’s the same thing. You get hella different sounds out here. Lots of hip-hop, reggae, and Afrobeats. Brooklyn blesses, if you’re paying attention.
How has your musical output grown since your first release? What inspired you to experiment and push boundaries?
blond.bomber: It’s always a strange thing because our first release in 2017 got 100k listens in the first couple of weeks on Soundcloud (when Soundcloud was the main stage for upcoming artists) so from there that was our drive, we had the confidence that we knew how to make good music. It was just about practicing and becoming more refined. We didn’t drop music for almost two years because we knew there was a sound we were trying to find and we weren’t gonna stop til we found it. and sure enough, here we are.
dp.thuH: I definitely have a fear of mediocrity and I don’t know how healthy it is. And I can’t cap, it makes my skin crawl to think I’m doing the same shit or being the same as somebody else. I love being different — it’s like my super strength. And I treat the art like a video game almost. Like people are going to keep trying to be like me so knowing that, in order to not get consumed by the wave to the point where people think that I’m in that same league, I gotta keep expanding and doing shit that makes people be like, “Oh nah, there’s the one. That’s HIM HIM,” you dig?
You’re throwing your own festival! Can you tell us how that came about? What were you looking for when booking other acts?
dp.thuH: Music is my passion no doubt but I also know it’s a vehicle I’ve been gifted to help as many of my people as possible. The festival grew organically — we’ve been hosting showcases with proceeds going to charities since back in 2017. With the new project and movement we created, our goal for the project and 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 gotta shine a light into the dark.
blond.bomber: 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.
How were you inspired by punk on your latest release? Who are some of your favorite punk bands working today? Any dream collaborations?
dp.thuH: We wanted that raw emotion punk rock gives you. But it had to still have our flavor on it so you hear that signature fusion in the middle of the track.
blond.bomber: Willow and Hayley Williams have my heart now and forever. Miley [Cyrus], too. Yeah, the ladies got it, any of them I would be honored to collaborate with.
dp.thuH: I’ve been diggin’ the Nova Twins, too. And not necessarily punk, but the sounds Yves Tumor has been cranking out — definitely been a great inspiration the past few months.
What’s next for Hippie Tribe?
dp.thuH: Directing our films and more chune forreal. I think Niko [blond.bomber] is gonna be pretty busy cutting down his roster of shorties for the fall. I’m learning plant-based meal recipes and Spanish. I’ve been muy hambre for like dos semanas but I’ll be muy bien real soon and then I’ll get x-ray vision. Uhhh, oh, more yatties! I’ma get my neck tatted soon, it’s over with for everybody after that.
blond.bomber: Making art and feeding kids in Brooklyn mostly. [Gullah Punk] mod 2 will be coming out ~soon~ we got some features brewing too so it’s gonna be a fun Q4 into 2022.