Rap, soul, punk and pop — this effortless musical mash-up is Bree Runway’s secret weapon. Natty Kasambala meets the boundary-pushing Hackney singer who’s not afraid to use her platform to shine the spotlight on talented Black women
There’s no doubt Bree Runway is aware of people trying and failing to define her, but she’s not particularly interested in conforming and she certainly doesn’t view her versatility as a disadvantage. Rap Bree, Soul Bree and Punk-pop Bree coexist harmoniously to become her superpower. ‘I’m all of those things,’ she says, smiling over Zoom from her house in east London. ‘And being able to be all of those things is what I think makes a popstar a popstar,’ she explains.
Though it’s true that Runway is a relatively new addition to the mainstream, it’s already hard to imagine how much further the Ghanaian-British dynamo could ‘elevate the vision’, as she promises, excitedly.
Last year she established herself as one of the most ambitious, imaginative artists recently to emerge from London’s music scene, equipped with elaborate, energy-filled visuals, continent-hopping collaborations, meticulous choreography and a debut mixtape, 2000AND4EVA, that go some way in answering the question, ‘Who exactly is Bree Runway?’ The reality is that Runway, born Brenda Wireko Mensah, is impossible to pin down, a rare find in an age of groupings, playlists and algorithms.
“You can create impact. You don’t need much, you just need yourself. You are completely enough”
“The kinds of things I was exposed to didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth most of the time. So when I’d go to bed from a very young age, I’d try and visualise beyond my postcode”
“The world doesn’t make us feel like stars all the time, so in my world, you’re gonna look like a star and feel incredible”
“I want people to feel like when they listen to me, they can forget all the rules”
“As soon as I got signed within 14 working days I made a whole presentation: this is who Bree Runway is, this is where she wants to take it, this is her vision — can you get on board and amplify this?’”
Hair by Seraiah Artistry. Make-up by Bernicia Boateng using Seraiah Cosmetics Butter Glaze Lip Gloss and Shiseido Synchro Skin in Jasper. Photographer’s assistant: Zeile Lockhart. Stylist’s assistant: Raphael Del Bono. Shot on Kodak Professional Portra
400 120. With special thanks to Chelsea Physic Garden