Lilo Blues and Tony Konstone, the two talents that make up the Irish duo Hare Squead, are making it their mission to show listeners there is more to them and their music than just Hip Hop.
“We do a lot more than just that,” Lilo Blues says in a phone conversation with HipHopDX. “I want people to see how different we are in comparison to everything else because of how genreless we are.”
Hare Squead’s early beginnings can be traced back to Tallaght, a neighborhood in South Dublin, Ireland, where Tony Konstone and Lilo Blues first met as kids. Due to the lack of diversity around the town, the duo naturally gravitated towards each other and supported one another as they attempted to find themselves in a neighborhood like Tallaght. As any other teenager would, Konstone and Blues formed a connection through common interests like skating and quickly became friends in the process. But even though activities like skating brought them together, it would be their love for music that strengthened their bond and allowed them to fully express themselves.
Since the music scene in Dublin was still developing, Konstone and Blues did not have much of a choice when it came to music selections. To get their fix, Hare Squead tuned into MTV where mainstream artists like 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Fall Out Boy and Gym Class Heroes ruled the network. From then on, the duo would develop an eclectic ear for music that would later be the foundation of their musical endeavors.
In 2015, Irish rapper Rejjie Snow unleashed “All Around The World” which shone a light on the blossoming Hip Hop scene in Dublin. Several acts like Simi Crowns followed in his footsteps by opening the door even wider for Irish acts like Hare Squead to make their presence known today. Given their backgrounds in music — Blues played several instruments in his church and Konstone wrote poetry — the duo, along with another childhood friend named Jessy Rose, formed Hare Squead and focused on music full-time.
As a trio, the group got to work in the studio and made their rounds across Ireland with their brand of genreless music. In 2016, the trio attracted ears overseas with their single “Long Way To Go,” which laid the groundwork down for their debut EP, Supernormal. Hare Squead found breakout success once more with the EP standout “Herside Story” which amassed over 40 million streams on Spotify. The record gained even more steam when GoldLink hopped on the remix and included it on his album At What Cost in 2017. Hare Squead continued releasing more music with “Flowers” and “Pure” later that year but tough times would derail the momentum the group built for themselves.
Shortly after their successful 2017, Jessy Rose began suffering from mental health issues that forced him to step away from the group indefinitely. “He’s still our homie and brother for real, but he chose to leave the band at a time where he wasn’t mentally right,” Konstone tells HipHopDX. “He took a break from music and he’s still working on himself, but we still had to figure things out within the group moving forward.”
Knowing they had to figure out their next steps, Konstone and Blues went back into the lab to recalibrate. The two continued making music and after an 18-month hiatus, Hare Squead dropped “100 Miles” in February 2019, marking their return as the duo we see today.
To further solidify their return to the music scene, Hare Squead dropped their latest EP Superweird in March. The 7-track project blends elements of Hip Hop, dance, R&B and more for a vibe that keeps listeners attuned throughout it’s 19-minute run time. “This is literally songs to just put out and get everyone excited again,” says Lilo Blues. “This paving the way for the new songs that are on the way. We’re coming.”
HipHopDX continued speaking with Hare Squead over the phone about their EP Superweird, how they’re keeping a level-headed attitude in the music industry, the confusion behind “Herside Story” being GoldLink’s song, how Tyler, the Creator influenced the group’s name and more.
HipHopDX: When were you guys first introduced to Hip Hop while growing up in Dublin?
Lilo Blues: The way we were introduced to Hip Hop was that we were just born with it. Not born with it but it was always around like watching TV and stuff. We were listening to whatever was on TV like MTV and shit like that. Hip Hop was really big at the time in Ireland.
HipHopDX: Is there a big Hip Hop scene in Ireland?
Tony Konstone: It’s one of those things where everyone was inspired by Hip Hop and whatever sound that was around. Before we were doing that, I know there was a big boom bap culture and stuff. I think now it’s becoming more of a thing because I feel like even where you’re at, everyone wants to do music and that’s what it’s like over here.
HipHopDX: Who were some of the rappers you listened to while trying to get your fix in Dublin?
Tony Konstone: We listened to people like Pharell, 50 Cent, and Drake. We’d listen to all the old stuff too so whatever we were feeling and whatever was the mainstream. We just picked up whatever was available off the radio like Lil Wayne and shit like that.
Lilo Blues: In Dublin, or Ireland, boom-bap Hip Hop was actually pretty big, so all of them were listening to like Biggie and 2Pac. Our generation was into that but the older generation was crazy about that shit.
HipHopDX: With you guys coming from that area of the world and getting the buzz you guys have gotten, what’s it like knowing you can potentially be the greats from your country?
Tony Konstone: That’s not even our goal. I want to make this so clear, we are not rappers that are bringing out Irish Hip-Hop. We do Hip Hop, but it’s not our sound you know what I mean? Our sound isn’t solely based in Hip Hop. We’re putting out a lot that can be considered Hip Hop at the moment and we respect that, but that’s not the overall message.
Lilo Blues: We’re also not predominately Hip Hop artists. We love Hip Hop and everything, it’s the reason why we’re able to even have a platform. However, I’m not a predominant Hip Hop artist. I got into music from musicianship where I played in the church and I’m a multi-instrumentalist. So us being the poster child for Irish Hip Hop is really not the case. We just make music, we’re not waving the Irish Hip Hop flag. We have respect for it and that’s where we are from. Time will tell where enough music will be put out and the people will get it’s not just Hip Hop and shit.
HipHopDX: How did you guys develop this eccentric sound?
Lilo Blues: I think it comes from just listening to music in general. We just listen to every single sort of music, every genre, every type, every artist and every language. There’s a lot of music that comes out and we’re trying to express that. We’re trying to let people know it’s not just Hip Hop. You have to realize we’re African growing up in Ireland but influenced by African and European music as well. So the influence is going to be mixed, but Hip Hop was the door we needed to walk through in order to express all that.
HipHopDX: I read somewhere the group’s name was inspired by the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and you guys calling each other square head for the high top fades you all used to rock. Is that really how you guys came up with the name?
Lilo Blues: I don’t know, we must have been high or something. But you know what really influenced all of that? Tyler, the Creator and how he would always flip words and say weird shit. He took Wolf Gang and made it Golf Wang and shit like that. We were definitely influenced by that at the time. We just flipped it and ran with it.
HipHopDX: Talk about “Herside Story.” That was a breakout record for you guys.
Lilo Blues: We were literally just working for hours and I pulled out the keys and started playing the main lead sound that you guys hear. We added the bass, the drums and then we laid our verses down. Jessy dropped the killer hook and all that came together just off us working. That’s how we work and that’s how all our songs are made, just by us working. We’re not working off people who send us beats. We do everything from scratch. We didn’t think that this would have been the breakout song. If anything we weren’t that crazy about it.
HipHopDX: You guys had GoldLink hop on the remix. How did that come together?
Tony Konstone: That was just through the label, you know? At the time we were at Columbia and his label, RCA, talked about having him hop on it and we thought it would be sick to do that. We decided to do the remix and that was really it.
HipHopDX: I know there was a bit of confusion when you guys did the remix because a lot of people thought it was GoldLink’s song. How did that happen?
Lilo Blues: It was because those niggas didn’t put it out as a remix. They didn’t really specify that so it ended up being GoldLink featuring Hare Squead. We weren’t the feature at all [laughs]. I’m not sure if we knew it was going to be on his album, we just knew he was going to do the remix. But then he put it on his album as well as if it was his track.
But yeah they never wrote “GoldLink HerSide Story The Remix” by Hare Squead. They put GoldLink featuring Hare Squead “HerSide Story.” That’s where the confusion comes from but at the end of the day, we don’t really care. That goes to show we have some songs that probably could have been impactful but we don’t have that big exposure to make our version our biggest hit.
HipHopDX: You guys took a bit of a hiatus. Can you go into that?
Tony Konstone: It wasn’t really a hiatus, we just took a step back from like posting on social media and shit. But we were still working and really rebuilding and getting things aligned to release new music. There were things going on within the band that needed to be dealt with and the label decided to go a different way. So we had to restructure and rebrand the foundation of this thing and now we’re back.
HipHopDX: How are you guys taking care of yourselves following what happened with Jessy?
Tony Konstone: It depends on your approach. We’re approaching this from a way that we just know what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to achieve with it. It’s us expressing our love for music and we’re trying to get our music out to the people. That’s always been our approach to make sure we’re coming at it that way. That’s how we’ve always been and how we’ve always felt.
Lilo Blues: If you really love this shit, you’ll focus on the music aspect of things. For the business side, you just need the right people in your corner that can handle that shit and you should be fine after that. The thing is, going into this music thing, you have to be aware that this thing is deadly. Most of the time, these people are smiling at you just because they want you to make money for them. It’s just a balance of knowing that but not letting that frustrate you. I think that’s why probably a lot of people are depressed in this music industry. We understand it and our focus is just on the music.
HipHopDX: Tell us about this new EP Superweird. Why make a sequel to Supernormal?
Tony Konstone: It’s just a catalog of music that we’re happy we finally get to release for the people. It’s been a minute since we’ve dropped a catalog of music that was more than just a single. We’re just happy with it.
Lilo Blues: It’s not really a sequel. It was just our name for it and one of our boys told us that this catalog was going to be super weird because the last one was super normal. Shoutout to our brother Jordan who shouted that out to us. We didn’t have a name or really think about it. The songs we have coming after this shit is going to be crazy. I think people will understand how genreless, how bold, and how fearless the music will be after all this.
HipHopDX: What did you guys do to enhance or elevate this super weird sound?
Lilo Blues: We just worked harder. We just went in and knocked them out. I don’t think we really followed that because I think when you do that you start creating a little pressure for yourself.
HipHopDX: What do you guys want this album to be for your careers?
Lilo Blues: I don’t think we’ve even thought about it like that, to be honest, but I think we should consider that. People might think this project is cohesive, but it’s not because every song has it’s own little twist to it. That’s what we like about it because each song is unique.
HipHopDX: What goal are you guys trying to achieve in the music industry?
Tony Konstone: A lot of money.
Lilo Blue: We want a lot of money but also a Grammy or accolades for our writing, production, mixing, vocal performances and things like that. That’s what we’re heading for is a Grammy.
HipHopDX: When it comes to your legacy in Hip Hop what do you guys want it to be?
Lilo Blues: Peace and love. Enjoy your art, your craft, and yourself. Be free with this and do your fucking thing.
Follow Hare Squead on their Instagram page @haresquead and stream their new project Superweird down below.