New Balance’s intergalactic mission to the moon: launching the Grey Day Moon Daze collection!
A new day for New Balance!
New Balances launches its Moon Daze collection; an astronomical moment in May that goes hand in hand with their Grey Day. Grey Day marks the grey hue that permeates their brand identity. The new collection is not a race to the moon, but rather a mission to be the first sneaker that will take the moon by stride. The ambitious nature of this collection, containing some of their signature models, keeps New Balance propelling up and into the universe and entering new realms through this collaboration with Amsterdam-based sneaker store Sneaker District and musician BNNYHUNNA.
Sneaker District has been an Amsterdam hub of fusing creative energies, from athletes to musicians to DJs. With the collaboration, New Balance enters this city’s entanglement of creativity and opens a blazing future with one of their (now) ambassadors BNNYHUNNY. Sometimes when you reach the moon … you also reach the stars!
BNNYHUNNA’s moment to fly…
We spoke to BNNYHUNNA before his Jam Session at the iconic — and highly nostalgic — venue, Bitterzoet in Amsterdam. Amalgamating and submerging himself in the musical rhythms of hip-hop, jazz, and experimental music, BNNYHUNNA lets his songs fly from the inside out. His close childhood ties to the church and exposure to drums, guitar and piano, created a curiosity to merge and dissolve boundaries in music. From producing for artists like Gaidaa, Rimon and Akwas, BNNYHUNNA now makes his own music and is shooting high with his debut project ‘SINTHA’. In light of this collaboration’s gravitational pull, we sat down with the artist for a chit-chat moments before his performance. Accompanied by his band (and many a spring roll), we delved into all things BNNY.
To kick things off, how you would describe your music style and genre?
I would describe my music as a cold breeze on a summer day. I like to experiment with multiple feelings. For instance, I could make a song that’s really emotional and then has upbeat drums just to create new feelings that you’re maybe not used to.
What kind of stories do your songs tell and how do they connect to these emotions?
I think for instance finding your voice in society, as a creative, especially as a musician, you have this tool to voice your emotions in a unique way. It’s interesting because I feel like a lot of close people around me are living the 9 to 5 life. I am confronted with certain expectations (also from my mom for example, who is still asking if I have a side job). I try to focus on making music because that’s everything I want to do. That’s all I’m going to do. So yeah, feeling the pressure sometimes from society pushes me and my music. Love stories are also an important theme, and spirituality, religion, and my relationship with God; all these things are discussed in my music.
You were brought up in church. Can you tell me how your relationship with the church and with God influences you and your music today?
It influences me in every way, actually. In the way I act, the way I make my music, the way I think. Music is such an important factor and element in the church. Being brought up in that environment, I have a deep connection to the music that comes from those church settings. I was going to church every Sunday, rehearsing on Saturdays, and doing a prayer service on Fridays, so basically there would be some weeks that I was more in church than at home.
It seems like it was a very special place for you, especially since that’s where you found music. Many people of our generation conceptualise nightlife, club culture and music as their ‘church’ or sacred place. Do you feel that way too? When you’re performing do you create your own sacred space?
I wouldn’t say that I’m creating a church necessarily, but I feel like music is a tool, and it can be a bridge for you as a musician to give a message. Since God is so important to me, I want to enable people to experience God through my music.
How do you generate that kind of experience?
It’s very subconscious. I’m smooth with it, so you don’t even notice but throughout the song, you become Zen while allowing yourself to feel higher frequencies. I think a lot of people are afraid as artists or maybe have been in a toxic religious environment whereby they get rebellious. So it’s not your regular degular thing coming from an artist. But for me, it feels natural and pure.
Do you see other artists drawing from a similar inner place in their music?
Definitely. There are artists like Yussef Dayes, who are also super spiritual.
It’s present in a lot of artists but they maybe use different words, manifestation or meditation, for example. But it’s certainly a similar experience.
Yeah, it’s the same source. You can name it however you want to name it. It’s just you going to that deep place, tapping in and coming back to give it to the people around you.
And then within this, how does the crowd that you play to or the audience that is listening to you, affect you as a performer?
I’m not really that affected by the crowd. If anything I feel like I’m in service to them because I’m giving them the experience. So the only thing I’m focused on is being as pure as possible in my message, in my musicality, in my performance, and in how I converse with the audience. I think I’m confident to the point that if I had an audience that wouldn’t interact with me, I wouldn’t mind. I would just do my thing.
I think that also your mentality stops you from being overly influenced by what people expect of you. You can remain pure to yourself and your own sound, as you said, but there’s a real technical aspect as well to your music…
The funny thing is, I did a study music for two years but I made my way through those two years because I have my church background. I have no understanding of theory whatsoever. So nine out of ten times, I capture my emotions, but I don’t know how to do it practically.
That shocks me because the performers you reference like Yussef Dayes or Kamal Williams are really technically advanced. That’s what I would associate quite closely with your sound too.
Well, thank you! I feel like I just had to work with whatever I had at the moment when I was starting to play music. And that just made me so hungry to the point that I was super curious and wanted to learn more.
Can you tell me about how this collaboration came about with New Balance?
Basically, I was already talking with the people from Sneaker District, who is the supplier of New Balance in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. I was expressing to them that I had so many ideas, but sometimes things don’t really come to life unless I have a collaborator. New Balance was one of the brands that I named to Sneaker District as a brand I would like to work with because I enjoy who they are, their branding and everything. I pitched the idea and a month later they told me New Balance is interested! I was very surprised because it happened really quickly. Within that same week that I got the confirmation, we had a meeting and less than two months later, we’re here!
How do feel this connection with New Balance? Is there a history?
I don’t have that much history. For me, it’s just one of those brands that in street culture made its way as a sports brand. I think that’s quite special. Seeing the brand worn around me in my neighbourhood, in my environment, I was like, damn, that’s dope.
Since you’re based in the Netherlands, how do you feel like the environment of Amsterdam, if it has, has contributed to your musicality, and your career?
I would say that there was this creative safe space whereby I could experiment. It helped that I saw a lot of people around me experimenting and that just gave me a feeling of confidence to find new sounds and find my own identity.
I think Amsterdam has a really beautiful nature of collaboration, which other cities really don’t harness the same way as Amsterdam does. Maybe it’s something to do with how small it is. But you have quite a big crew.
Yeah, it’s quite big! This is my pocket version of the band. It can be like around eight or nine people.
Does everyone add in their own creative aspects?
Yeah. I would say so. People already know what their strengths are so it all comes together. You just do you and I’m going to stay in my pocket.
..And then at Bitterzoet, do you have any memories here? This is a pretty cool location to decide to transform into a Jazz setting.
Yeah, for sure. I think that was the first club that I went out to as a youth.
Any stories that you can tell?
Anytime I’m at Bitterzoet something weird happens.
What are some of your goals? This is a pretty big achievement already!
Yeah, I’m really natural with how I measure my goals, but it’s all within the vision. So everything that falls within the vision and that happens is things I’m just happy with. There is this collaboration for instance, but I’m also doing a residency at Down the Rabbit Hole, also with jam sessions. I feel like it’s kind of anti-climactic if I set goals when it’s something I’ve already done before. When I have a goal that I reach, it’s like now what? So I just try to enjoy it as much as possible and try to spread good music, spread love to the people around me, and maximise every opportunity.