Mario “Strange Strains” Hernandez is a hip-hop artist and producer based out of Pomona, CA. I got a chance to chop it up with Strange on the origins of his family-orientated hip-hop group Murder Van, his inspiration with Elektron drum machines, solo explorations, and much more!
JM: Before we dive in, introduce yourself and tell everyone what it is you do
SS: What’s up, my name is Mario a.k.a. StrangeStrains.
I am a music producer, rapper, and visual artist.
I am also the US product specialist for the Swedish electronic instrument company, Elektron Music Machines.
JM: A busy man! I gotta know, how did you come up with your name StrangeStrains? Very unique.
Well, I really like alliteration, especially when I started writing raps.
I wanted to come up with a name that had that in it.
Going off of how my music sounds, it wasn’t normal, so Strange was something I wanted to incorporate.
And Strains came immediately after thinking of Strange. Fit perfect.
JM: It really does! Rolls right off the tongue. Speaking about how your music sounds, who/what are some influences that helped build the foundation for your unique sound?
There’s a lot of influences, and I feel like it’s constantly changing.
I would say it started with my family having very different tastes in music. This exposed me to classic rock and roll, hip hop, and everything in between.
Some of my favorite artists and producers that constantly inspire me are Madlib, Atmosphere, Damon Albarn (Gorillaz), Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix.
Oh man, too many to name.
JM: It’s hard to gauge influence sometimes because as artists we’re always trying to improve and grow so I understand. How has Elektron played a role in your journey as an artist?
Yes definitely, couldn’t have put it any better.
Great question, it really has expanded my music palette by introducing me to a lot of new sounds and experiences.
The machines themselves have changed the way I think about making music.
Allowing me to approach it in a different way than I normally would’ve.
JM: Oh I bet man! Their gear is crazy and definitely has changed the way music is made today so good shit on getting in with them. What do you think is the most important aspect of growth and exploration as an artist?
Thanks, I’m super grateful to be on the Elektron team.
I think allowing yourself to have fun, but also focusing on the things that get you excited and tapping into that.
Being yourself, unapologetically.
JM: Well said man I couldn’t agree more. Let’s talk about your group Murder Van. You guys are all so versatile and unique, how’d you guys meet and form Murder Van?
Thank you. Man, that’s my Family.
Literally, all the members of MurderVan are related. My brother, my two cousins, and myself.
JM: Woah, I had no idea. That’s fuck dope! What inspired you guys to come together and form the group?
SS: We would always chill together, telling each other about music, movies all that. We also all made music individually, so it was the right thing to do when the time came around.
JM: That’s dope man. You gotta stick together with common creative minds to keep the juices and inspiration flowing. Do you think we’ll get Strange Strange beat tape or solo project in the future?
Most definitely, currently, we are focusing on solo projects. Ben0rr tape coming, then me and my brother IdeAlone got an EP.
I am working on a live set that will eventually turn into a beat tape.
JM: Well I know we’re all looking forward to that my friend. Your beats are on some other shit. As we wrap up, what can we expect from Murder Van and yourself for the remainder of 2021? Also, where can fans reach you at?
Thanks man, truly appreciate it!
Look out for some more solo projects from the Van. Also working on more visuals to go with our music.
Feel free to shoot me a DM on Instagram at StrangeStrains. Also, go stream our music on all streaming platforms. MurderVan, StrangeStrains, Ben0rr, IdeAlone.
Thank you for the dope talk and great questions man!
Check out more of Strange Strains work at the links below: