Dublin’s Hare Squead talk Irish hip-hop and the importance of small clubs

We chatted to the Irish rappers in the unique UltraLounge venue in Selfridges, London, as part of the Music Matters campaign.

The city of Dublin hasn’t traditionally had a massive association with hip-hop, but Hare Squead are here to change that. Consisting of rappers Lilo Blues and Tony Konstone and singer Jessy Rose, the trio combines icy trap beats with De La Soul-influenced rhythms and even soulful vocals that would make Kanye West proud.

If you’ve heard the name Hare Squead, perhaps it’s because of ‘Flowers’, the melodic track they released to massive acclaim earlier in the year. We were lucky enough to sit down with them at the UltraLounge, a unique 360-degree performance replete with screens onto which artists can project videos to create a truly immersive experience for the audience. It’s to be found in Selfridges and has been hosting shows from some of the most exciting new artists – including south London rappers 67 and indie band Ten Fé – as part of Music Matters, a campaign to raise awareness of the fact that small, grass-roots music venues are under threat. You know, the places where artists get their foot in the door as live performances, before going on to become the next big thing.

According to the Music Venue Trust, a shocking 40% of London’s small venues have disappeared in the past 10 years. Which got us wondering – what’s the deal in Dublin, where Hare Squead have been wowing crowds? As Tony puts it: “When you’re starting your music career, you don’t exactly get to play in the biggest venues straight away.” Lilo takes over, pointing out that “it creates a story” as artists progress through the bigger venues and towards wider audiences.

Lilo and Tony also discussed the rise of trap and discussed the DIY and hip-hop scene in Dublin, which they say is thriving in ways that people from outside the city might not expect. And after that? Well, they delivered a knock-our performance the UltraLounge, proving that small music spaces really are vital.