The Hip Abduction’s David New on Songwriting, Sweetwater 420 Fest

The Hip Abduction is an indie-synth band based out of St. Petersburg, Florida. They’ve been recording music and playing live gigs since 2011, while experimenting and exploring new sounds in the process. The Hip Abduction have devoted themselves to recasting the Reggae and West African musical heritage of the panhandle with modern synthetic overtones. They will perform their newest album, Gold Under the Glow at Sweetwater 420 Festival in Atlanta, happening April 21-23. 

By Nathan Dial

Photo Credit: Dylan Melcher

(MusicBham) Is it going to be a relief, after traveling up and down the East Coast, not to have to travel too far from the home base in Pensacola for Sweetwater Fest?

(guitarist/singer David New) Yeah, we haven’t toured much west of Colorado yet. We’ve got Sweetwater and then Tuckfest and then a month at home. So that’ll definitely be nice. We are very excited. 

I bet. How do you all feel about having a front-running spot at Sweetwater? What do you have planned for the day-one crowd?

That’s right! We’re the first band in the whole shebang, aren’t we? We’ve got a couple new songs and we’ll be throwing in some covers. Also, because it’s an early slot, we’ll definitely be getting a little weird…might play some songs we haven’t played in a while to loosen things up a bit. We’ll be coming off a performance in Asheville, North Carolina, from the night before and might be a little loopy from lack of sleep. So, yeah, things are gonna get crazy.

Man, do you guys ever catch a break? 

May, man. I sleep in May. 

One month out of the year, you get to sleep.

Yeah. Times have changed. Ever since we signed on with Partisan (Jack Johnson’s Agency) it’s been balls to the wall. We’re playing every festival. 

It’s gotta be nice to have people clamoring for the band, though. 

Yeah. (Laughs) It is nice to be wanted. But we’ve been really busy and I’ve gotten sick on the last couple of tours, so it’s been hard to find the time to get away and write some new music. 

Sounds like it. You all are pretty avid adventurers. Do you think that plays a role in inspiring some of the songs we hear in Gold Under the Glow

Well, I find myself going through phases. Until recently, I’d only really been inspired by listening to other music. I’d never been inspired to write a song by a place or a space. But we were able to get away to Yosemite in California while writing Gold Under the Glow, and the silence out there gave me the idea for “Before We Lose Our Minds.” 

That was also one of the first times we experimented with the synth sound that’s helped define our music. I’d heard a few bands experimenting with synth pop before then, like St. Lucia. When I listened to their music it took me to the islands, and the funny thing was that they weren’t playing anything remotely similar to reggae. We’re trying to do the same by creating a wholesome, organic sound that does tie in to some of our own Reggae/West African/Florida roots. 

And while we’re on that subject, I have to say there aren’t too many bands with a kamale ngoni in their instrument lineup. What do you think that brings to your music? Do you think it makes it more powerful? Spiritual?

Hmm. I think the spirit side can come from any instrument. Depends on the person holding it. But the traditional music that the kamale ngoni has been used for definitely leads our songs in a certain direction. The instrument comes with a certain kind of rhythm. It’s doesn’t have a chromatic scale. It’s different. 

It adds a certain edge to whatever you guys are playing. It gives you that creative outlet to explore.

Exactly. A lot of the rhythm that drives our songs comes from playing the kamale ngoni. 

So you’ve got the old and the new. Kamale ngoni blended in with some more modern synth elements. 

That’s right.

To wrap things up, what’s this I hear about The Hip Abduction having their own unique brew at 420 Fest?

The Hip-Biscus Tropical Ale! It’s really good. The Sweetwater guys brewed it up. It’s a good Florida beer. You could sit down, have ten…well, not me anymore considering I don’t drink much anymore. Maybe five (laughs). 

Five is more than enough. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, David. Definitely excited to hear you guys play in Georgia. Any last words for the people coming out to see you?

Drink our beer. And I hope you guys can come out early because it’ll be Friday, right? A school day?

If they’re skipping The Hip Abduction at Sweetwater for a chemistry lecture, they won’t know what they’re missing. Catch them Friday, April 21 at the Sweetwater Stage from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.