All three members were infants when their families moved to Dublin. As kids, they were into football and skating, and mostly hated school. “My older sister’s generation were some of the first black kids in the school,” says Konstone. “But it was better for us. You can tell society is changing.” Tony and Lilo met when they moved to the same housing estate, aged 12, and they were musical from a young age. Lilo’s dad forced him to learn piano because there was nobody to play it in their local church – he would record videos of himself and upload them to Facebook. Jessy came into the equation later: “I bumped into them in town through skating,” he tells me. “They were telling me about this thing they started and I asked if I could be the Frank Ocean of the crew. It was instant.”
Despite being a fairly young and contemporary outfit, Hare Squead’s rise to fame has been distinctly old school. They made their name in Ireland through a relentless spell of notorious live shows, way before putting any music online. At the various mid-sized venues they played, they were usually the first rap act to ever perform there. “We had an 8 piece live band and people just fucked with us,” says Konstone. The crowds gathering at their shows was reflective of something wider: youth culture in Dublin was stirring and diversifying. “It’s really happening in that city now,” says Konstone, gesturing towards a top he’s wearing made by a local Dublin fashion designer. “People are realising school is not the only way to succeed in life. You can have ideas outside the box.”
One of the defining characteristics of Hare Squead’s music is a commitment to being cross-genre. Or, as they label their philosophy: “genrelessness”. While talking, they tell me in the studio they’ve been listening to everything from folk duo First Aid Kit to Feist to Philadelphia trap rapper Lil Uzi Vert. It’s evident in their EP. After the aforementioned mellow R&B vibes of “Pure” comes “Flowers”: a classic hip-hop sounding track with funky piano and bass. And that is soon followed by “Petty” which is just straight up dancehall if ever you’ve heard it. “People think moving genres is the wrong thing to do and everything needs to be cohesive,” says Lilo. “But we’re taking risks and people seem to be accepting that we make music of all kinds.”
In this sense, Hare Squead know exactly what they are doing. Like many new young artists, they realise that to maintain an audience in an evermore digital and impatient world, you don’t just need to impress your fans… You need to keep them guessing.
“People are realising school is not the only way to succeed in life. You can have ideas outside the box.”