Citing a range of musical influences from Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) to Lady Gaga and Marina Diamandis, to Coldplay, Blenheim resident Stefani Gray (aka Hybrid Rose) self-produces tunes that vary from chiptune ditty Video Games to the poppy, dance-y Pixel and distorted dubstep of Expectations.
Her influences go beyond music, however; the opening chords to Pixels came to her while watching an episode of Adventure Time for example. She also cites vintage design and graphics as an influence, especially in terms of the visuals she produces alongside her songs.
“They’re not very detailed. Simple colours and graphics, which I find really fascinating because I love colour – anything colourful and sugary. Marina’s ‘Froot’ era was like that a lot; she could write these really personal stories but have this really happy dance-y vibe to them, as if she was getting something sad and sugar coating it so people could enjoy it.”
While Gray doesn’t consider herself a political person, she says she’s very passionate about making change.
“There’s a lot going on in the world and it’s very frustrating to see people struggling. It’s really hard to put yourself in that position or to fall into that position because it can just ruin you. It’s important that we make a change.”
Her musical character is a little more involved however, and the music is occasionally politically inspired.
“Hybrid Rose doesn’t hold anything back. Say there was something controversial going on in the LGBT community, like Trump was signing an anti-LGBT law, she would go all in and she would protest the hell out of it.”
Mermaid Lovers, her latest single, is however less political and more escapism.
“I wanted to make something that wasn’t related to what’s going on in politics and the world and have something people can enjoy, just a little fun track.”
The song is exactly what it sounds like from the title, about “…two lesbian mermaids falling in love.” Using heavy compression to create that underwater feel, it is indeed very pretty and aquatic, as the artist herself describes it.
Hybrid Rose’s debut album, ‘Cosmic’ is due for release in April. With 12 tracks so far, the album tells a story inspired by Gray’s own experiences.
“I wanted to get personal stories from my life and turn them into vibrant and exciting tunes,” she explains.
Between now and then, Gray intends to create and release more videos from the album – she’s just as passionate about the visual side of things as she is about the music. She describes ‘Cosmic’ as “…a multimedia project of audio, images, and visuals.”
In the meantime Gray is looking at performing where she can, but for the most part is just having a good time, enjoying what comes.
“I’m going to take everything as it comes to me and embrace it and whatever happens, happens.”