10 things you need to know about Bree Runway, the Hackney star making hot girl pop
Starting with this exclusive look at her Missy Elliott-approved new video 'Apeshit'.
Photography Charlotte Rutherford
Miss Bree Runway doesn’t do things by halves. The British popstar is so sure of her vision, so globally-relevant, so fucking cool, that it’s honestly pretty hard to believe that this project started in her Hackney bedroom. Since then, the DIY artist built up a fanbase that includes RiRi, Kehlani, Stormzy, Jorja Smith and Missy Elliott; bagged herself a major label record deal and jump-started a career that will undoubtedly make big waves both here and overseas.
Fresh off the back of her empowering debut EP Be Runway, released in late 2019, today Bree is releasing her fierce new single “Apeshit”. A contagiously energetic bop, it’s inspired by a YouTube comment she saw underneath one of her videos that read: “At first when I started watching this, I thought ‘nahhh, she’s too much for me,’ but by the end of it I realised that I wasn’t enough for her”. This resonated deeply with Bree. “That right there, is the piping hot tea that has been served my whole life,” she says. “People are so offended by you living your best life because they’re afraid to live theirs.”
So, about this music video… wow. “Apeshit” takes it back to the iconic music videos of Missy Elliott, featuring dark lipstick, chessboard rooms and more than your daily dose of fish eye. There are killer moves too, plus backing dancers, leather chaps, big hoops and references to early 90s Jean Paul Gaultier fashion shows. “I just wanted a space to WILD THE FUCK OUT,” Bree says. “And literally go apeshit, throwing all cares out the window and just have fun. That’s what life should be all about.” And yes, she really did write the lyric: “Snatching everybody wigs / Now they look like thumbs”. Iconic.
And as for the Louvre-based music video of the same name by a certain musical power couple, Bree has this to say: “They win. My budget ain’t touching theirs… yet.” Until then, watch “Apeshit”, become obsessed and get to know Bree via these 10 fun facts.
1. Bree is a Hackney girl, born and raised
“It wasn’t as colourful, quirky and eccentric as it is today. Where I used to live was called Murder Mile... I mean, you do the math! Everything I’ve seen and experienced has given me thick skin, made me resilient and has instilled a fight in me that I’m thankful for. The industry is tough, and so are the critics, but I feel armoured up and prepared for it all because of how I was raised.”
2. The major influences behind her music are luxury fashion, fuck boys, and girls bossing up
“It’s glamorous, gangsta, hot girl pop music! It’s genre-less. You can’t put me in a box, and I don’t model my career around one sound -- that’s like asking me to wear the same wig forever! Impossible. I have to reset my swag every 14 working days, keep ‘em on their toes.”
3. As a child she heard Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the radio and was floored
“The harmonies, the drama, the theatrics: I’ve carried the inspiration this sparked in me all through my performing arts class years. Freddie Mercury is so major to me, hearing and seeing him perform was always a liberating experience and he’s one of the key reasons I’m so free, limitless and experimental in my art.”
4. Seeing Grace Jones, Missy Elliot, Sonique and Brandy on TV was a big deal
“Lil Kim’s ‘No Matter What They Say’ was it for me. She oozed confidence, style and versatility in such a mesmerising way. As a young black girl, it was amazing for me to see an example of fluidity and a lack of rules in her art and her looks. I saw myself in her growing up because I’ve always had crazy, wacky ideas... women like her have made me feel super confident to execute them.”
5. The first song she ever wrote was a corny love song about an ex
“It was called ‘It's About Us’ and it was the corniest love song about my ex who I was insanely in love with. The lyrics were so funny: “When I saw you I was hypnotised / Don’t know what it was, it was / Probably ya eyes.” Like, who was I? But love would do that to you. I ripped the beat off YouTube, recorded it in my super DIY studio setup, mixed it in GarageBand, and the rest is history.”
6. The name Bree Runway was bestowed on her by a super duper fly cousin
“I have a really fly cousin, he was called RUNWAY PEDRO on Facebook. Growing up, hanging out with him, I was green with envy but always bursting with adoration for his wardrobe because that guy is stylish as fuck. At one family party, we were gathered in one of my cousins’ rooms, and I was hassling him as usual: “Please let me borrow your Gucci this! Pass me those LV shades!”. He said “You know what, you’re too young for all this, but I can give you my name.” My real name is Brenda, so I just slashed that in half so all my other aliases could fit. But Bree Runway was always my fave. Over the years, the meaning of my name has evolved: runways at airports always have planes taking off to crazy heights, and that’s where I see my art going... way, way up.”
7. She loves a bit of sad, solo, karaoke
“If I want to throw myself a pity party, like one of those days where I just feel like crap and really want to cry, I listen to Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel and cry my eyes out whilst singing the song. It’s really weird but therapeutic.”
8. The greatest lesson she’s learnt so far? Consistency is key
“Consistency is key when releasing your art, but evolve immensely always, 'cause one can be consistently shit! See yourself as your biggest competition. I literally don’t feel inferior to any other artist because I’m focused on myself and my own evolution.”
9. Her SS20 look is ‘black Paris Hilton’
“I’m obsessed with vintage Dior right now, I’m about to be the black Paris Hilton this summer, going apeshit with the early 2000s vintage looks. I’m also really obsessed with Himalayan salt baths. I’m a busy girl these days, it really helps relax me.”
10. Bree is on a mission to be a role model for alternative black girls
“For black girls making music, we tend to only get reduced to soul or R&B, but I’m a pop girl, and there’s other black girls who may be rock girls, experimental girls, dance girls, or pop girls too. I just want my journey, this year and beyond, to be a testament to staying true to yourself and thriving; you don’t have to do what they expect of you. You can do you and still win.”