Hippo Campus Show Creative Process with the Release of Demos I and II

BY ISABELLE BEAUCHAMP

Hippo Campus — the Minnesota-born band currently storming the indie-pop-rock scene — slowly caught attention in 2015 after releasing a flurry of dreamy pop-rock singles and EPs. Their debut album, Landmark, was released in 2017, and with a well-crafted combination of a synth-rock structure and clever lyrics tied together by a signature sound, Hippo Campus established themselves as one of the brightest new indie bands in the industry.

Their highly-anticipated sophomore album Bambi received equally great —if not better — reception by critics and fans alike. Bambi pushed the band to explore without ever losing their genuinity, experimenting with their sound and gaining maturity. With gems like “Why Even Try,” “Doubt,” and of course, the ridiculously catchy title track “Bambi,” the album delivered everything fans wanted and more.

Last week, Hippo Campus released two sets of demos from Bambi, titled simply Demos I and Demos II. While most bands like to keep their writing processes in the studio, Hippo Campus wasn’t afraid to show the unfinished cuts. It’s a great look into their creative process. It’s fascinating to see how the skeletons of songs became the well-refined sound of Bambi; hearing the bud of an idea and seeing it bloom into a full track is something not many artists are willing to display. 

Some of the demos are much more similar to the finalized tracks than others; the demo for Bambi, for example, sounds like a stripped version of the album track. However, other demos have a completely different sound, some almost unrecognizable from the finalized. For example, the demo for “Golden” is a much more hollow version of the album track with airy guitars and simple percussion; you can almost imagine the way the band built the song with the demo acting as a blueprint.

But that doesn’t mean that the demos are simply rudimentary versions of the final ones––each demo is unique and carries a different weight, a different feel. Some sound more raw and others more intimate, some are reckless and others much more constrained. Each version of the tracks explore the themes and sounds of the songs in completely different ways, showing fans what was added and what was cut, what came from the demos and what was left behind. 

Hippo Campus also felt as though releasing the demos was an “incredibly cathartic purge,” as they told Broadway World. The band went on to say that they “decided not only to include the songs that would eventually become Bambi, but also include other things we were writing and working on over the summer of 2017 and the winter of 2018. It means you can hear a pretty expansive document of where we were creatively throughout the process.”

Hippo Campus’ release of their demos was a subtly bold move. By showing their creative process, they’ve opened a door that will hopefully encourage other artists to be more transparent about their work. Demos I and II shows that creation doesn’t happen in a straight line or with an instant revelation, but rather through a process that takes dedication, patience, and revision.

Lead Image Credit: Brittany O’Brien / Instagram