For anyone who’s had their ear to the ground in London’s hearty hip hop scene, Strange Breed should be a recognizable name.
For those just becoming aware — let’s break it down!
Coming from humble beginnings, 2018 saw Strange Breed emerge from relative obscurity in the local scene with his debut EP, Monophobia. The release featured a stylistic blend of hardened body tracks and speed raps to heartfelt R&B and spoken word entries. This dynamic range of sound would become a staple of his musicianship going forward.
Having gained some local attention through his grinds at open mics and hip hop nights in and around London, he managed to sell out his 2019 follow-up EP, November Lights, at Old East 765 — and he wasn’t even headlining!
His passion would occasionally take him to New York City, the birthplace of hip hop, where he would showcase his abilities and receive ovations through his performances at indie hip hop gatherings.
Come 2020, as things were looking up, the unthinkable went down. With the world in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Strange Breed’s inner creative beast was unleashed like never before!
Between 2020 and 2021, Strange Breed has released an EP (Isolation Blues) and a double album (The Curiosity and The Cat, respectively). His work has also earned him an FCLMA nomination for Best Hip Hop Artist.
Let’s let the man himself shed some light on what makes him strange, as well as what he has in store for us next!
Strange Breed is an interesting moniker. Care to explain the name and why you define yourself as strange?
I have always had a personality that strays far from the norm. I have grown up bisexual and am now in a polyamourous relationship. I have many quirks, have had many wonderful and weird experiences, and I try to be the strange I wanna see in the world, especially with my music.
You’ve got an unconventional approach as a hip hop artist. You can’t really be typecast or pigeonholed to one genre specifically. What inspired this unique approach?
Simply put, being a fan of music. I never grew up with one particular genre, and in fact, most of my favourite artists growing up weren’t hip hop at all. I have several influences in that category, but my main approach has been to make the song that feels right at the time. It doesn’t always fit the same mold, as with anything approached in life. When I experience something that inspires a song, the emotion that comes with it dictates how a song is sung, rapped, hell… even screamed.
Word is, there’s a new project underway, with a debut single in tow! Care to tell us what that’s all about?
Incognito Baby is a musical trio consisting of myself, my girlfriend Karla Vanessa, and my best friend MJ Vaessen. It is more of an alternative rock project, but as with Strange Breed, every song is very different, borrowing from influences all across the board from the three of us. We have teamed up with Kenny Carkeet of Fitness and Awolnation fame for our first single, and it’s definitely a fun, loud start to the project! The single is available on May 10th!
The pandemic brought the music scene to a halt, yet your creativity keeps on thriving. What keeps you inspired during these tough times?
Honestly, pain. I keep being separated geographically from my one partner in these trying times. We are separated by an international border, and the distance is only doubled by the circumstances revolving around the pandemic. On top of that, with every other negative thing this virus has brought, I have found myself in some pretty dark places. Music has always been my coping mechanism, and whether good or bad, intense experiences call for passionate music.
You’ve received a reputation for being an uplifting and supportive person, both through your demeanour and lyrics. Are there any inspiring words you have for those going through hard times right now?
I’d like to quote the title of one of my favourite Nine Inch Nails tracks, ‘The Way Out is Through.’ I just finished an 11km hike on the weekend, and at times it was hard and tiring, with no end clearly in sight. However, upon finishing it, we had truly found an incredible experience. It’s important to look at what has been learned during these hard times. Take the break, focus on yourself as a person, and who you want to be when this is all done. Times are tough, but you’re tougher!
And there you have it, folks! Perhaps things aren’t as fast-paced as they once were, but Strange Breed still gives us more new tunes to look forward to!
So, follow him on social media to keep up to speed. Also, check out his musical offerings. All that below.
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Feature photo of Strange Breed by Andrew Pillot.