It’s difficult to remember a time with quite as much buzz around Irish hip hop than right now. 2017 has already seen Rejjie Snow trade bars with Joey Bada$$ on ‘The Moon & You’, while last year, Limerick’s Rusangano Family took home the Choice Music Prize (Ireland’s equivalent to the Mercury).
It’s for this reason that the timing feels just right for Hare Squead - a trio from Dublin made up of rappers Tony Konstone and Lilo Blues alongside singer Jessy Rose. The band have a sound in the mould of classic groups like A Tribe Called Quest, coupled with pop and soul influences akin to early Kanye West. Their output so far ranges from club-ready dance bangers (‘If I Ask’) to trip-hop tales (‘Flowers’, ‘Herside Story’), and singer Jessy reveals this sense of variety stems from the group’s overlapping record collections.
“We’re into everything from Odd Future to gospel, punk to trap”, he says thoughtfully. “I guess there are lots of different artists that brought us together. I really love Nirvana too – I’m basically down for anything that has a powerful sense of emotion behind it.”
The trio met at an early age and all grew up in and around Ireland’s capital – and the city of Dublin feels like an inescapable part of what makes Hare Squead such an exciting proposition.
“I consider us as part of a scene over there”, Jessy remarks proudly. “I loved growing up in Dublin – I guess you could say I was immersed in all different kinds of music. My Dad would always play Congolese stuff around the house, and from school I learnt about traditional gospel music. Everything else kind of came from whatever was on TV, I suppose”.
The trio struck up a friendship from an early age - “we all met when we were about sixteen, but Lilo and I kind of already knew of each other even before then. We both used to post videos of each other at a guitar, or on the piano – he would rap and I would sing. Eventually we ended up in the studio together”.
Far from basking in their breakthrough success, Jessy insists the group remain driven to increase their ever-growing audience. “I want the music to get better, and achieve a bit of respect within the industry.” DIY
Taken from the September 2017 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe and read online below.
Hare Squead are one of the acts involved in the European Talent Exchange Programme. For more information on ETEP, and the artists and festivals involved, head to etep.nl.
Photos: Emma Swann.