Just imagine the scenario: a huge, free show is happening in your neck of the woods. The lineup is incredible, and every single song gets the entire crowd moving. Headliner? HIPS, an all-female r&b/dance/pop duo from Los Angeles. They start the set with their amazing new single “Get Up”, and the crowd goes absolutely insane for this incredibly talented act. This is how the ladies would like to introduce themselves to you.
“Get Up” comes in bass and synth heavy, with a very strong nod to 80s and early 90s dance hits. The vocals–provided equally by HIPS members Christina Gaillard and Drew Denny–are smooth, vibrant, and hard-hitting. In this song, they set the ground rules for a dance partner. It is, without a doubt, the most catchy summertime song we have heard yet in 2016.
After the show, Drew does want to note that the party would move “to a blimp and fly over the Republican National Convention” where they would, respectfully, “ask everyone to spit out the window.” Alright. With the political landscape being what it is, we’ll take that opportunity whenever it’s presented.
These ladies are incredible.
We sat down with Drew and Christina to get some insight into their music, have a little fun, and revel in their senses of humor.
Was there a moment when you realized music was kind of your calling?
Christina: I grew up in music. My parents and whole family are musicians. I started playing drums when I was two years old and then keys and bass and eventually got into production. As a teenager I played everything from R&B and soul to powwows to rock n roll clubs on the Sunset Strip. Since then I’ve produced albums ranging from disco to folk. Producing and performing in HIPS is exciting because I’m making the kind of music that is closest to my heart and soul.
Drew: As a kid I took classical piano lessons and sang in church, but I never thought I was cool enough to be in a band. When I finished film school, I was so disillusioned by the big budgets and bureaucracy of the film industry and just frustrated by how long it can take to create a film – and how watered down ideas can become by the time they’re exhibited. I learned how to play in a band called Big Whup in front of audiences at the Smell and Echo Curio, super punk and DIY – and it felt so good. No money, no suits! Just a bunch of friends supporting each other and creating spaces where we could experiment and express. I realized that writing and performing music is such an immediately fulfilling and physically joyful way to communicate – and I’ve basically been working overtime to support the habit ever since.
What’s the origin story of HIPS?
Christina: Drew and I met about four years ago when we played together in an all-girl post-punk band called Bon Bon. Once, on our way back from SXSW, we stopped at the Grand Canyon and started talking about R&B, which was a style we both had this deep affinity for but had never played together. The band was basically born right there in the desert. The name HIPS came naturally because we both have curves 😉
“Get Up” is SUCH an amazing dance track. What was the inspiration behind it?
Drew: Christina wanted to make a high-energy track for the dance floor — something fun and easy to move to, inspired by 80s freestyle and R&B. She sent the music to me when I was in New York for work and I listened to it on repeat while riding subways to and from set during crazy 20-hour shoot days. I wanted the lyrics to express that feeling — when you’ve been worked to the bone and your heart is broken and there’s that moment when you see how bleak the world can be, but you choose to dance anyway. The words came all at once and I got so excited that I called her during work and sang them acappella through the phone from some street corner on the Lower East Side and she was like “Dope,” and I was like “It’ll sound better when you sing it.” Now it’s our favorite HIPS track.
You’ve both been involved in some great projects aside from HIPS. Do you find yourself drawing inspiration from any of your other projects, specifically?
Christina: This project is unique to me cause it’s the music I’ve always wanted to make.
Drew: No matter what medium I’m working in, I’m really just trying to further my queer radical feminist agenda.
What’s your super power?
Drew: Christina’s super power is the power of the groove – and harmonizing!
Christina: And Drew’s super power is optimism.
What do you want people to pull from your music?
Drew: It feels like a really scary time to be alive… We just wanna create some space for people to enjoy their bodies and minds through music.
What’s your go-to summer anthem?
Christina: We’re calling it a tie between Sonya Spence’s “Let Love Flow On” and Rihanna’s “You Needed Me.”
What’s up next for HIPS?
Christina: We’re about to release a video for GET UP featuring some amazing dancers we’ve been collaborating with lately. Then we’re releasing three more singles and videos over the summer and into the fall… And then we’re going on tour!