Where Awful goes, Abra goes. The almond-eyed artist, usually dressed in a low-cut leotard and thigh-high socks like some sort of rebellious ballerina, is a core member of the tight-knit rap squad. From inside her bedroom—closet, actually—Abra produces sparse R&B tunes that sometimes seem at odds with a crew known for its scrappy hip-hop. "It's really hard being an R&B, pop-ish act in a group of all rappers," Abra told FADER over the phone from a suburb outside Atlanta, where she lives with her family. "Being in a lineup with them gave me so much anxiety, like, am I gonna croon to these people who are tryna turn up?" That anxiety helped lead Abra to her new sound, one that marries sweet vocals with sharper instrumentals and pairs nicely with the numb dexterity of Father's flow. For this edition of How I Live, the thoughtful princess of Awful opens up about thrifting in the suburbs, her beauty routine, and being a cool girl in a boy's club.
ABRA: "I grew up in London until I was eight. It was awkward moving to the south with a British accent. Kids were really mean, like, 'You can't be black and sound like a British person.' That was really hard for me, but that's how I got into being a weirdo. That's when I started learning the guitar and writing fantasy novels. I was definitely like, 'I'm gonna be a creative person and I don't need friends.' I started being on the internet real hard, going into chat rooms. I found my friends and where I belong. Before I got to college, I was doing YouTube covers of rap songs on my guitar, and Father's girlfriend put him on to me. When I released "Need Somebody," he remixed it. That's when we started fucking with each other musically. Our styles meshed really well."
Skincare & Makeup
"I usually wash my face with a Neutrogena Grapefruit scrub. I've been using that for six years and it's the best product for my face. Then I'll put cocoa butter on, but that's it. I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to that stuff. I use MAC's liquid liner. It has a felt pen, which is good because it's dummy-proof; I'm really bad at putting on makeup evenly. I always do a cat eye. Always. I use that, MAC mascara—Zoom Fast Black Lash—and their foundation, too. When I do lipstick it will usually be a nude or rose color; I feel really awkward if I have on really bright makeup because my lips are really big and I don't like to draw too much attention. I like muted colors."
"I usually prefer to keep my hair curly, but last year I had an undercut. I shaved the whole left side of my head and I dyed my hair pastel purple. I use Tresemmé when I wear it straight. Tresemmé products are really ill. I put coconut oil in if I do it curly, but just a little. I blow dry it and flatiron it, but it has to be a ceramic iron—that's really important. The quality of my hair has really increased since I started using a ceramic iron. It doesn't fall out or feel brittle or like hay. I use this off-brand one I got at a Chinese beauty supply store."
"I don't like to wear anything that makes me stand out. I like to be a little casual, a little grunge, a little punk. I'm really into the early to mid '80s right now. It's really vibin' with me: pastels and all that. I look up to photographers and stylists [as style icons]. I think about '80's-era Thierry Mugler and Helmut Newton, and I think about interior design. I think about Coming to America and Girl 6.
"The best thrift stores are out here in the boondocks, outside Atlanta. No one who lives here wants to go to the thrift store. They wanna go to Hollister and shit, and I pick up all their aunt's and grandma's dope jackets from way back. In Atlanta, thrifting is not as fun because everyone is looking for something nobody else has."
"I used to live in Atlanta, and then I moved back home to the suburbs to write my EP. I wasn't getting anything done in Atlanta, I was just out turning up. Now the album's done, and once that comes out I'll be back in the city. Right now where I live is very country, very peaceful. It's quiet; I record in my closet. When I was living downtown, I could hear sirens, honking, traffic, and my roommate doing whatever. Now, I have peace and quiet, which is really conducive to creating.
"[Living with my family] is really dope. When I left for college, we weren't exactly close—but they've helped me so much. The idea of me just dipping out and leaving never sat right with me. To be able to go home and nurture my creative shit while tending to my family makes me feel really good. They've been really chill; they understand what I'm doing. Before they were like, 'go to school, be a lawyer," but now they're really proud. I couldn't ask for a better situation. It's lit."
All images courtesy of Abra