Nathan Stocker (Hippo Campus) Talks with Yasmin Williams on the Talkhouse Podcast

Two guitarists get into their pasts and argue about math-rock.

On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast, we’ve got the guitarist-singer of a great young-ish band from Minneapolis in conversation with a hotshot guitarist who’s just starting to make a name for herself: Nathan Stocker of Hippo Campus and Yasmin Williams.

Hippo Campus formed just under a decade ago, while Stocker and his bandmates were still in high school. They came out of the gate just as you might expect: eager and excited, releasing a series of EPs followed by a bang-bang pair of excellent albums and inspiring crowds at pretty much every festival you could think of. After touring behind 2018’s Bambi, Hippo Campus took some time to stretch their legs, with each member heading off into side projects of various sounds and sizes. But the band reconvened with fresh motivation and a clearer-eyed outlook last year, and they came up with a powerhouse of an album with the simple title of LP3. It’s slightly more mature in the best ways, but still incredibly catchy and true to their sound. There’s a lot of inward looking existential lyrics, but wrapped in fantastic hooks.

It was Stocker’s idea to chat with guitarist Yasmin Williams, who he had recently come across via NPR’s long-running, always reliable Tiny Desk concert series. That performance was particularly captivating, because you’re not just hearing what Williams can do with an acoustic guitar, but you’re seeing it as well. She takes the foundation built by fingerstyle masters like John Fahey and Michael Hedges but brings a modern sensibility to it: In this conversation, she talks a lot about her love of metal and math-rock, bits of which you can almost hear in her beautiful playing. Williams has released two albums so far, and as you’ll also hear in this chat, she’s working on a third. The latest is Urban Driftwood.

Williams and Stocker didn’t know each other at all prior to this chat, but it turned out that she’s a Hippo Campus fan. The two talk about gear nerd stuff, YouTube videos by Andy McKee, being in competition with yourself, and of course the inspiration for Williams’ interest in music to begin with: a little game called Guitar Hero 2. Enjoy.

This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range.

(Photo Credit: left, Tonje Thilesen; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

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