Anyone who knows a thing or two about hip-hop in Ireland knows very well who Dublin trio Hare Squead are. Either through their particularly lively gigs or through whispers of their musical prowess.
None of these fans were then surprised when the infectious ‘If I Ask’ and its House-y vibes took a wider audience of Irish ears by storm this summer. That, coupled with their stacked festival schedule propelled the group, comprised of E-Knock, Tony Konstone and Jessy Rose, to the forefront of the general audience’s musical curiosity. All of this has led to a highly-anticipated headline show in the Button Factory on the September 28.
Cóilí Collins got to catch up with E-Knock who was exhausted after a flight but still managed to squeeze out any remaining drops of Hare Sqeuad-esque vivacity.
How does it feel to be in the midst of the build-up for your first headline show?
I feel inferior and kinky. Sorry I’m trying to find a toilet right now, I just got off a flight and I’m so tired, I can’t even function.
I’m honestly excited to actually see what our fans look like, because we’ve been doing a lot of supports… That’s the sound of me peeing, if you can hear it…
But, every other show has been a support or a festival, so they have a different demographic and different kinds of people there, so you don’t really know who’s actually been following you. With our own headliner we’ll have a good idea of what our fans look like, how they are, so I’m excited for that.
Has getting signed and gaining somewhat mainstream popularity built up your excitement in terms of ‘meeting’ your fanbase for the first time?
Ireland is really picking up on it, that’s love you know, it hasn’t really been released or blogged about outside of the country, so it hasn’t really been pushed, but in Ireland we can really feel the momentum and the love, it’s really poppin’ out here which is pretty sick, we’re just glad that everyone’s had such a great reaction to it.
I feel The Irish public isn’t that open to straight up rap by Irish people, which has made people venture much more outside the box, have you guys done that intentionally, or is the eccentricity of Hare Squead just part of your personalities?
I was a musician before I was into rapping, so I love different genres, we all love different genres; we love Outkast, we love Bruno Mars, we love Young Thug, it’s just all over the place, like I’m a big jazz head.
We love all these different types of music so we’re very versatile, House just happens to be one of the genres we tackled, I don’t think it was the type of thing where we were like “Irish Hip-Hop isn’t that cool so let’s hop on a House track”, we just tackled that because we like House music and we just happened to rap as well.
Irish Hip-Hop is in a good place now, before you had just the white Irish rappers, now since Ireland’s getting much more multicultural, you have rappers from the Afro-Irish community too, it’s getting a bit more interesting now. Do you think that you guys are giving it a voice on the pop-scene while other artists such as Rejjie Snow are dominating the underground?
Oh yeah, for sure, definitely, and that’s coming from the most humble part of me. Rejjie Snow is pretty sick and he’s still really underground, but I think we’re pushing out towards the pop side of things, making it much more well-known.
You’ve made a name for yourselves through your live performances, rather than having stuff all over the internet, you have to go see you guys to experience your music, is that what sets you apart?
Yeah, we don’t have any music out really, so for us it’s about doing live shows, we think we’re rockstars. We legit believe in our hearts that we’re rockstars, because we really don’t give a shit and that’s our persona on stage, which I think is cool when people come and see us live because they expect these three rap guys to be these stereotypical rappers, but then they’re climbing shit and moshing and I think that’s really how we built our name. Now that we’re releasing music it’s reinforcing the whole thing.
When you say that you don’t give a shit, is it difficult to maintain that same personality and ‘not giving a shit-ness’ while being signed to a label and a little more out in the open?
I don’t think it’s really difficult, people tend to think that acts that sign to a label are really just manufactured and all that shit, but what we love about Colombia Sony is that they loved everything we were doing and they were like “OK, we’re going to let you guys do anything you want and we’ll give you the resources” which is pretty sick so we really just do what the fuck we want.
Have you got any plans or goals for the coming few months?
We’re recording a lot and just trying to put music together, there’s a package of music coming out soon, a good bit coming out really soon and look out for that. As far as shows and stuff there’s a few cool things we’re going to announce but not just yet.
How has it been recording over in England? Has it made any difference and is it easier for you guys to do what ye want?
I don’t know, England is cool, I prefer Ireland though, I really do. Recording out there, we get to meet some dope people, really talented people, producers… I just can’t wait for you guys to hear the music so you can hype with us.
‘Zoo of the new’ and ‘If I Ask’ are completely different types of songs, does the upcoming stuff vary as much or does it take on a certain theme or vibe?
It doesn’t really follow anything!! Everyone’s hyping ‘If I Ask’ because it’s their House tune, but we don’t only do House, we do other stuff as well. Who knows, our next single could be just Jazz. Straight up proper, old, French Jazz fusions but I don’t we’ll have much fans after that.
Don’t expect it. Because if you expect it, you expected it.
On the topic of variance what are the last five tracks or artists you’ve listened to?
Just on the plane there, I was listening to this Gospel album and before that I was listening to Young Thug and before that I was listening to Bring me the Horizon and then before that I was listening to Esperanza Spalding: she’s a proper Jazz head, she’s really cool with it. One of my favourite artists is D’Angelo, he’s a soul guy, I love André 3000 as well, so it’s just all over the place.
Everyone that I’ve named come from different genres and I think that’s what’s cool about Hare Squead, if you were to pick a band that’d help define our energy or our music, it’d probably be Outkast.
Is it ever hard to stay different or outside the box? Are there times where you want to do something conventional but feel like you have to be different, especially under the shadow of a label?
It’s not hard for us because we’re three black guys from Ireland, how much more different can you be?! We just do us. It’d only be hard for the people who’re conscious about trying to be different, we’re actually not even trying to be weird, we’re just into weird shit. In the Afro-Irish community we’d be considered outcasts to them because we don’t act like them.
I wear colourful socks with slacks and a black crew neck, this is not shit that black people from Ireland wear, they wear tracksuits and the North Face jackets, which I’m not against but that’s not us trying to be weird, that’s just us being us. I think it’s sick that people actually like the fucking freaks that we are.
How much has growing up in Ireland influenced you?
If I grew up somewhere else, I don’t think I would’ve came out to be this fucking weirdo that I am, I really love being from Ireland and I embrace that to the core. It really shaped us to be from Ireland because if I grow up in the UK or in America, I’d probably just end up being a follower.
Being from Ireland, I get to hear music from the Americans, from the UK and I have a huge African background. I used to go to an African church and I used to get a lot of music knowledge and all that from the church, so it allowed to absorb all that music stuff coming from all these different places, that’s just musically. I wouldn’t change it, I love it how it is.
Hare Squead are headlining The Button Factory on Wednesday September 28. Click here for tickets.