Life of a Happy Camper
by Hailey Shields
Long Island native Steven Markowitz, better known as Hoodie Allen, started writing lyrics as a kid. His love for making music never changed. In 2009, while attending college at the University of Pennsylvania, Allen continued writing raps. One of his first mixtapes, Pep Rally, began to get him a lot of recognition when “You Are Not a Robot,” scored his first big hit. Since he has gained more recognition for his huge single “All About It” featuring Ed Sheeran and his older song “No Interruption.”
Allen made his official debut in 2012 with the mixtape All American. This was released through his own label and it ended up being number ten on Billboard’s Top Albums. From this point on, it has been nothing but success for Allen. In 2014 he released his debut album People Keep Talking which featured huge artists like Sheeran and Alex Wiley. People Keep Talking made it to number eight on Billboard’s album chart.
Early this year, Allen released the album Happy Camper, which made it all the way to number one on the charts. This was an incredible achievement for Allen, considering the album was released for free for his fans. He followed the album up with his Happy Camper Tour through the United States and Canada. His fans expect more big things in the future. It’s safe to say Allen will have even more success.
Currently you’re on the Happy Camper tour. Today you’re playing the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. How does it feel to be playing in the City of Brotherly Love again?
It’s great. I really always look forward to Philly. I went to college here [at the University of Pennsylvania], so I went to a bunch of shows here as a fan. Now I’ve been able to play here. This is my third time playing at the Electric Factory. It’s always surreal.
When you released Happy Camper it peaked at number 1 on the album charts on iTunes. Were you expecting this album to have so much success?
In terms of iTunes, I had very little expectations for it. I really didn’t know what to expect, because obviously I was very much promoting it as a free album. The fans [had an] option on what they wanted to do. The fact that enough people decided to buy it that it actually charted, that was an awesome surprise. I did not expect that.
When we arrived here we noticed a huge line of fans, some saying they’ve been here for over two days to be first in line. How does it feel to have such dedicated fans?
It’s awesome. It’s crazy. I worry for them sometimes. I’m like, “Hey go get some sleep. Don’t sleep outside.” But the Instagram first in line has been a really fun thing I’ve done that since 2012 really. It’s a tradition at this point to reward the fans who are first in line. Just as the shows have gotten a little bit bigger, the first in line has become earlier and earlier. So yeah, the people who are first today… today is Saturday… the people came like Thursday night. So yeah coming on like 48 hours.
You and your opening act SuperDuperKyle have a close relationship. What’s it like being able to tour with your friend and perform with him every night?
It’s great we actually became like a lot closer from this tour. We’ve known each other obviously because the rap world – especially our peers – it’s a small circle. [We] got to make champagne and pools together. Playing every night on tour is a really fun moment for us. It’s great because especially one of the songs that I think everyone in the crowd, either you came from me or you came as a Kyle fan or you came as both, everyone knows that song. It’s really nice moment.
You have a pretty big set list for this tour. Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
Some of my favorite songs to perform on this tour are just songs we haven’t played in a while. Like “High Again,” which we haven’t really traditionally had on our set list for a few years. To bring that back, stuff like that is sometimes my favorite.
You have a really supportive fan base. How does it feel when you see familiar faces in the crowds of your shows?
It’s great. That’s one of the best parts for me. I can start to associate different people with different cities. It’s like, ahh… I know that I’m going be in here today and I’m going to see this person. Maybe that’s weird of me to know fans that well, but it’s something to look forward to.
Do you have any artists or groups you’d love to collaborate with in the future?
Yeah, absolutely. I’m a fan of so many people, so it’s hard to limit it. But yeah I mean, Justin Timberlake… what’s good? Hit me up.
How would you describe Happy Camper Tour in three words?
Can I curse? Happy as fuck! Super duper happy.
How has your music evolved from when you first started to now?
I always really write from my own experience. As I go through different things in my life, the music comes within shape and shapes it differently. If anything I think I’ve become maybe a stronger songwriter and more reliant on myself. When I started in 2009 or so with the mixtapes, a lot of it was sampled music. The chorus would already be built in there through the sample. Stuff like writing my own hooks and song structures. Stuff like that I think has changed the most.
When you’re on tour, do you still find time to get back to your creative roots and write music?
On this tour I haven’t really written anything, because our day is just usually so jam packed. We’re doing like five shows in a week, so really when you’re not on stage you’re just taking that bit of down time. Make sure that you have your voice right and everything is good. But I do know that once I’m done with this tour in a couple days, I’m going to get back in the studio and start working on the next album.
What can your fans expect from you in the upcoming year?
More music. More music, and we’re going to go to Europe at the end of the summer. The European fans are going to get a Happy Camper tour. And yeah, I want to put out another album this year. I think that’ll be the main focus.
Who would you consider to be your biggest inspiration and why?
I don’t know. It hard to pick like one single music inspiration. I would say I really grew up loving the classic New York hip-hop era. That really inspired me to want to do rap rather any other genre to begin with. Guys like Nas and Big Pun[isher] and Mos Def were some of my favorite artists going up.
Do you have a message for your fans?
Don’t do drugs! Oh, real message? My message to the fans is thank you for being so cool and supportive. Allowing me to continue to tour and visit your cities and do this. It’s really the most awesome thing that I could possibly ask for. So thank you for that!
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 1, 2016.
Photos by Rachel Disipio © 2016. All rights reserved.