On Friday, Hong Kong-based rapper Squeak dropped a new single, S/S16, a deeply emotional account of personal struggles, channelled into a cathartic and catchy track. The 17-year-old, whose given name is Wilson Koder, spoke to Young Post about the new release, as well as his future plans.
The track’s obscure title derives from the 2016 clothing line by street wear brand Supreme. The range provided a coping mechanism for Koder’s self-confidence issues.
He said: “[Image] used to be really important to me, and I always ended up buying a lot of expensive clothes and shoes just so I could flex on [show off to] people, and because it gave me a sense of worth.
“Obviously, that sense of worth was artificial and it didn’t last long,” he said. This shift in thought was an important element in the track, portrayed in the lines “This won’t make me who I want to be” and “This is all I need to be who I want to be”.
The idea for the track came after Squeak received some music.
“I was sent the instrumental by a producer named Ludlow that I’ve been working with, and as soon as I heard it, I almost immediately had the whole song laid out in my head,” explains the rapper, who now lives in the US city of Seattle.
“Over time more layers got added, and the lullaby between the two verses was just a spur-of-the-moment decision. I really put myself back into my state of mind while I was going through a lot of issues, such as ... depression, and started writing from that perspective.”
Many musicians these days are shifting towards self-producing as a cheaper alternative to hiring expensive studios; the former West Island School student has taken this route, recording the track in his home studio.
“In 2018, I built a recording studio in a spare bedroom of my house ... It’s a bigger upfront investment to get a high-quality setup in your house, but in the long run, all of the money that would be going towards studio time can go towards other things, which has been more effective.”
S/S16 was mixed and mastered in New York, and will be accompanied by a video – which Koder describes as “aesthetically, a nice watch” – which was shot by his friend and part-time manager.
Even though Squeak, whose stage name came from his high-pitched voice, is based in the US, he still eagerly keeps track of the Hong Kong hip hop scene and its development.
“Even though I’m not all that involved in it, I know that there are a lot of great artists putting really cool stuff out, I think that among expats involved in hip hop, there simply isn’t enough support to make it truly profitable,” he said. “The scene is growing quickly, but right now I think it still should be much bigger than it is.”
Meanwhile, Squeak plans to drop a new EP in February, before heading to LA to work on his debut album. While his life is feeling more settled in the States, he is scheduled to return to Hong Kong on March 27, where he will be playing at North Point’s MOM Livehouse in support of his latest releases.