Hippo Campus's latest album Bambi dropped last Friday, and the insightful group detailed us the record's background song-by-song below.

Bambi was an experiment for us on how to be heard as four individuals within a group. Producer BJ Burton encouraged us to untie ourselves from the roles and instruments that we identify with and choose to create with whatever spoke to us at the moment. Bambi is all about that moment. It's the first record we've written about the present. The present that brings the questions we ask ourselves in the midst of change and growth.


‘Mistakes’ was written at five am, after a long day of lyric writing for ‘Anxious’ and ‘Doubt’. We were going for a “Beach Boys from space” vibe. The demo was originally performed on just guitar and vocal, but through some experimenting came across the idea of a more choral arrangement. I sang 7/8th of the harmony parts, and we ran it through a TASCAM Portastudio and slowed the speed to achieve the old-timey effect.


‘Anxious’ underwent many different variations. The original production we brought to BJ was centered on a logic drum sample, bass chords, a shaker, and a Juno pad. BJ encouraged us to explore the arrangement and instrumentation further. We eventually stumbled across that distorted tr-8 pattern which informed the pallet for the rest of the song. The lyrics deal with themes of anxiety inhibiting your relationships.


Zach brought the verse distorted Wurlitzer idea in about midway through the second phase of our demoing process. Once we jammed it in the full band setting, it seemed like we were on to something fresh. It was the first time we had really based a song around a keyboard. This allowed us to push the pallet in a glitched out speakers shredding direction. Corey Wong from Vulfpeck plays a sick solo in the bridge.


‘Bambi’ was the last song we wrote for the record. We were tasked with writing something concise, to sum up the work we had done. It deals with the mental health issues I was dealing with at that time that was detracting from my productivity. These same issues were impacting my friendships and relationship as well.

Why Even Try:

‘Why Even Try’ deals with a damaged relationship and the cyclical nature of our feelings. Nathan brought in this tune right before our sessions at Electrical Audio. We initially had trouble wrangling it for a full band. BJ helped us work through rewriting the chorus, which opened up a whole new space for the song. We tracked the instrumental live to tape within 45 minutes of jamming on it for the first time. I ended up writing the new chorus melody over it a few weeks later at April Base in Eau Claire.

Think It Over:

I wrote the vocal melody on a bass in Zach's bedroom and we spent the rest of the day in his home studio writing the song directly in Pro Tools. It was one of the first times we had written a song as a band entirely in a DAW. There’s a finger piano playing the descending melody you hear when the drums come in.


‘Bubbles’ deals with repairing the same friendship and prioritizing the history of the relationship over the struggles of the present. Nathan and I wrote the lyrics as a response to ‘Why Even Try’. This was written with Nathan on guitar, Zach on bass, and me on the drum machine. We had been trying to work that guitar riff into a song for a while, but finally broke ground on in it with the fresh pallet.


‘Honestly’ deals with frustrations at being complacent; needing/wanting a change. This was the second song we tracked live to tape in Chicago. We laid down the instrumental within an hour of writing it.


‘Golden’ is about the challenges of maintaining a long distance relationship. This was one of the few songs that made the cut from the first batch of demos. Zach brought in the original riff, which ended up reworking as a full band. This is one of the few songs that was written using the “band in a room” method we had used on previous releases.


‘Passenger’ deals with the growth that is necessary for a healthy relationship. It was the second track from the early demos to make the cut. It was originally written on a tr-8 and a guitar. The production incorporates some big room sounding drums along with some chopped, rhythmic guitar samples. Whistler wrote the piano piece that it morphs into at the end a few years back.

Bambi is streaming now and can be bought here.