The Flying Hippo Project
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The Flying Hippo Project

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Welcome to the anachronistic life of Johnny Burroughs, a 22-year-old 1930s jazz buff who dons a wardrobe of fedoras, suspenders and ties without a hint of irony. As the frontman for Ellegoria and the mind behind The Flying Hippo Project, Burroughs has delivered a sepia-toned sound that takes cues from some of the most unexpected genres and musicians. But, without a doubt, the most endearing aspect of his music comes from his old-fashioned nature.

“My friends make fun of me because they say I’m an old man. They even say I talk and dress like an old man,” Burroughs says. “But honestly, I would I hope I’m an old soul. You know, when you hang out with older people you notice they have a realization of life – they’ve lived it and realize how small things don’t matter and how much life is so much bigger than that. Now, I’m still an idiot 22-year-old who makes huge mistakes, but I like to think I have a little bit of an old soul inside of me.”


And he’s right; he does possess an old soul. This is clear after one listen to “Wandering Music,” the debut EP from Burroughs’ solo endeavor, The Flying Hippo Project. Released in July of this year, the eight-track CD is a collection of songs that flaunts debts to old school blues, soul and folk while utilizing elements from Asian and Latin music. Throughout the entire EP, Burroughs delivers the songs with the ease of breathing, employing his blues-tinged voice to convey vignettes about women, God and love.

“I’m very autobiographical when I write; so, I guess I’m really selfish,” Burroughs says. “I don’t just write about my feelings – I also write about issues that I see. There’s so much going on inside of me, and I get inspired by everything, especially other musicians. When I write music, I pick a couple of things I like from different musicians’ songs, and I kinda steal them and put them together to make my own sound.”

Artists who have inspired Burroughs include musicians like Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Louis Armstrong and Led Zeppelin; however, he says his biggest musical inspirations have been his parents. His mother is an accomplished musician who has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe, while his father, a musician/songwriter, exposed young Burroughs to classic rock and encouraged him to pursue music.

In classic blues fashion, Burroughs initially got into music by way of the church. At the age of 12, Burroughs picked up his first instrument because his family’s congregation was in need of a bass player. At the age of 15, he took up the guitar because his youth group was in need of a worship leader. Since then, he has been honing his skills and growing as a musician – shelving his taste for Will Smith’s Big Willie Style (his first CD) for the musical outputs of Duke Ellington and Bill Weathers.

“I like music that is honest, which is why I’m really influenced by older things like the blues and soul” Burroughs says. “I’m just a white boy that’s grown up in the suburbs his whole life, but I try to use as much soul as I possibly can. And if people understand that, then that would make me very happy.”

From the response he gets from those within Greeley, it’s obvious that people do get it. As an artist who has been involved with multiple music projects, Burroughs says that some of his favorite shows he has played have all taken place in Greeley, specifically an Ellegoria concert at the Atlas Theater and a solo performance at Margie’s Java Joint, which took place the day before our interview.

“Last night was a really great show,” he says. “There were a lot of people that dug it, and a lot of people that talked to me after. It was cool because I usually find Greeley to be some of the ‘least-head-nodding’ of the Colorado people, but they really seemed to enjoy themselves last night. It’s awesome. They really fed off my music, and I was completely feelin’ it.”

If all goes accordingly, he will also be “feelin’ it” with the rest of the U.S. soon. When talking about the hiatus Ellegoria is currently taking, Burroughs expressed his desire to really push The Flying Hippo Project, which has propelled him to consider a U.S. tour sometime at the beginning of next year. In addition to taking his music on the road, he also plans to release two or three more self-produced EPs by spring – each CD showcasing his wide range of styles and musical influences, because after all, he’s a musician who celebrates the premise of music being broad and limitless with an existentialist quality.

“Music is just so broad, and I love how people can listen to it and make it their own and find their own meaning,” Burroughs says. “It’s something that unifies everyone. Everyone has experienced music, even if it’s the tribal clapping of someone in the middle of nowhere or if it’s the most produced song. Music is also just such a metaphor for life and how expansive, incredible and ridiculous it is. It’s so complex, yet so simple. It blows my mind.”

www.myspace.com/theflyinghippoproject - Scene Magazine(Northern Colorado)


Discography

Songs From the Floor E.P. 2007
Independent Release
Wandering Music E.P. 2009
Independent Release

Photos

Bio

“The Flying Hippo Project” is an ever evolving project by musician Johnny Burroughs. In this venture, he pulls music from many parts of the world, walking the streets of several musical styles including: soul, roots, delta blues, jazz, rock, Chinese traditional and samba.

He builds his unique sonic postcards by fusing influences from such eclectic artists as The Beatles, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Cold War Kids, The Beach Boys, Sting, Led Zepplin, Stevie Wonder and many others new and old.

Born and raised in Colorado as a child of a musical family, including his mother who toured with Sam Phillips and father, an accomplished guitar player and composer of many songs, he has grown up with music influencing his entire life. Mixing The California Raisins, in with Power Rangers and TMNT toys, Johnny was exposed,as a child, to such soul artists as The Temptations, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Bill Whithers, Little Richard and many others every time he popped in his Raisins cassette and got lost in the sonic waves. That music, which he was exposed to so early, has stuck with him his entire life, and is now being released in a unique way.

In true blues fashion, Johnny got his start in music in the church. Picking up the bass at age 12 and guitar at 15. All to fill various roles the church needed filled. Falling in love with the passionate music of the church, but wanting to expand the musicality of the songs; Burroughs in High School began to branch out and discover what the world had to offer musically and write his own to add to it.

Since then he has toured all over Colorado with the Band 'Ellegoria' (for which he played Guitar, Keys, Djembe and Sang Lead). He has played with such local big names as: 'The Epilougues', 'Tickle Me Pink', 'The Photo Atlas' and 'Jonathon Stark'.

So after living in Thailand and touring with a band, Burroughs has settled in to the music he wants to bring to the the world. In all of it's complexity, genre jumping, time warping, and melody. People listening and watching The Flying Hippo Live have said: "I can see the pictures of where I'll listen to each song in life." "I love the rhythm and catchy melodies of the songs." Venue owners have also chimed in: "A perfect change to the monotony I hear every night." Annie of Higher Grounds, "What you do... I wouldn't change." Jonathon Bitz of the Meadowlark and Denver Syntax. Though the compliment Burroughs here's the most after a show is' "You're so... different." and it's the one he loves the most.

Burroughs is currently touring in Colorado and the U.S. in support of his self produced E.P., “Wandering Music”. It is the first of many records from Johnny Burroughs and The Flying Hippo Project. When asked about music, Burroughs had this to say, "Music is life to me. It's like taking a breath every time I get to experience it. I only hope to spread the joy music has given me to all that will listen."