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Magic City Hippies: The Newest in Miami Funk

You may not have heard of Magic City Hippies yet, but that’s only because they just changed their name. Miami locals Robby Hunter, John Coughlin, and Pat Howard have been making sweet music together since the summer of 2011, starting off as the Robby Hunter Band. Their signature indie funk sound has garnered some pretty impressive attention. The New Tropic sat down with the band to talk about their new moniker, their new EP, and why they’re not moving to L.A.

So what’s the name change all about?

The Robby Hunter Band used to be just [singer and guitarist] Robby. It started off as Robby’s cover band and he played with other people here and there. This was a couple years before we [Pat and John] started playing with him and it eventually became us as a creative group together. We released two of our songs while in a van on the way to SXSW in 2013, and we were like, what are we called? So we stuck with Robby Hunter Band, and then these songs went viral — we had a million and a half hits on The Hype Machine — and we thought we couldn’t really change our name after that. So we were stuck with the name for like two years.

And today, you’re the Magic City Hippies.

Between those songs coming out and the rest of the album being made, we thought of the term Magic City Hippies. I think we were dubbed that because of our Hippie Castle, our recording studio and home for Pat and John. It’s a 70s-style bungalow that recycles musicians — over a decade of musicians from the Frost School of Music have lived here. Plus, the people in the area who have lived here for decades are members of the original hippie generation. We made it the first album title, and wrote a song called Magic City Hippies that would be our title track. Enough time had gone by, we had re-invented our sound, and we thought, let’s just go with it. So we finally changed our name.

For us its not so much that were subscribing to any Wikipedia version of what hippie is supposed to be, it’s more about the alternative Miami lifestyle. We don’t have a type of style, and we think about these stereotypes people have when they think of Miami and the music they make here — we have our own style, our own brand of Indie Funk, and that’s what being a hippie is for us.

Who are some of your influences?

We listen to a lot of Tame Impala, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, The Beatles. Locally, we’re super impressed by the quality of musicianship in Miami. We’re blown away by [local Miami band] The Politix.

Did the success of your first album have the same effect in Miami?

When we released the album all this excitement happened for us, but people still didn’t know us here. I mean some people on the internet were comparing our album to records like Random Access Memories and calling us the sleeper hit of 2013, and then we were at Barracuda’s in Coconut Grove with like 12 of our friends and no one else. We had all these expectations, but we really needed the last two years to become something in Miami. We met some people, they started showing their friends our music, and now in Miami we have a significant fan base.

So how does your sound fit with Miami music culture?

In Miami, there’s this disco vibe, club music vibe, Latin vibe, you have bands like Spam All Stars and Suenalo but then you also have bands that go in other directions, more electronic or hip hop. Our music is influenced by Miami music in terms of the dance-ability. This city wants to dance. And our music is definitely danceable.

So many artists and musicians move to LA because they think it’s the only way to make it. Do you guys feel the same way?

Miami is going to be a beacon. I didn’t realize how many people come here to feel like they’re in LA but not having to deal with all the bullshit. Having to be in LA on a semi-regular basis is a sign of success in this industry because that’s where everything is happening. But I do think there’s a surprising amount of people that are LA royalty who choose to reside here in Miami – people like Pharrell, Bruno Mars, John Legend — they’re all down here working at Soho Studios.

What can we expect from your new EP, Hippie Castle?

Our goal is always to make the best song ever, so we were throwing out a lot of improvised ideas from the material we started with and we ended keeping a lot of ideas that weren’t mulled over. Our spectrum of sound is going to be much more condensed in this EP. But this album is denser, we definitely went for more layers, you’re going to hear things that you would think would not go together, but it actually sounds pretty perfect.

The Magic City Hippies will debut their new EP Hippie Castle on Friday, July 24 at the Wynwood Warehouse Project from 7-10 p.m. To stay connected to the band, visit magiccityhippies.com.

By Nicole Martinez
Nicole is a freelance writer and crop top enthusiast based in Miami Beach. A lifelong 305-er, she loves finding new stuff to love in her city everyday.