Abra met Father, Archibald Slim and KeithCharles Spacebar of Atlanta clique, Awful Records, while popping bottles at a house party. Getting wavy with people is the probably nearest thing Awful get to meetings and A&R, it seems. After Abra emailed ideas to the mandem for the best part of a year, they eventually welcomed her aboard.
Abra’s infectious and polished sound mixes her huge vocal talent with sharp, beautifully intelligent beats, and is ultra-eclectic in its influences; she listens to everything from Wonderland-cover babe Mariah Carey, to various, gloriously analogue 80s synthpop stars. When it comes to her creative process she’s resolutely DIY. “I record myself, I produce myself and I’ve just started mastering myself,” she explains to me, proudly. Calling herself the Darkwave Duchess, Abra’s EP, “Roses”, was released earlier this year and standout tracks like “Pride” and “Tonight” are part post-Tumblr, #sadgirl fare, and part seething drums nicked from Phil Collins with some 808s thrown in for good measure. Add to that lyrics charged with that trademark Awful weirdness (“Fold and fold / in darkness at your feet / is this love or a harness baby? / please tell me” she sings in “Pride”) and you’ve got a pretty distinctive sonic identity.
Then there are those creepy videos like “U KNOW” that are full of abyss-eyed, Lynchian weirdness (eat your boring heart out, Tinashe) which show Abra knows how to perfect the holistic, audio-visual package that, rightly or wrongly, artists need to be able to foster
in this social media epoch to stay relevant. “I like darkness: the weird shit. I don’t like romantic-comedies as I think they give you weird expectations of real life,” she says, confirming what we already know: that she’s a million miles away from the dreary conventionality of myriad other nu-R&B beauties. This fondness for the freaky manifests itself in her love for horror films: “I like to be on edge and they used to scare me a lot, so it’s kind of a challenge for me to be able to watch them and not be scared. I’m definitely an adrenaline type of person.”
As for the future? The Atlanta girl knows what she wants. “To get paid! It’s hard to be at this in-between stage, travelling everywhere but still not getting money like that. I don’t want to be doing a watered down version of anything. I want to get my vision across.” Fair enough. Who said artists should be starving, anyway?