I first met Abra at FADER Fort NYC, when we filmed the music video for Father's "Ignore". I was immediately struck by the Atlanta singer's serene vibes in the midst of such chaos. Dressed like a punk ballerina, Abra would turn it on for the camera then stand off to the sides, quietly observing. When I asked her what it was like rolling with such a wild squad, she just laughed and shook her head, "it's crazy, that's for sure."
She wasn't always so together. When we spoke to her for How I Live, Abra described growing up in London and then moving to Atlanta, where she suffered teasing for her accent. She became an introvert, finding solace in writing fantasy novels and visiting chat rooms, and, eventually, in making music. Father's girlfriend discovered Abra's self-released videos on YouTube and the rest, as they say, is history.
Being one of the few female members in an otherwise testosterone-fueled crew has its benefits as well as challenges. That said, Abra assures us it's all family: "It just happened, it was a natural, organic progression." Here, she breaks down her tips for thriving in a friendship fraternity.
1. Know what you gain being part of the squad
Abra: "[Awful Records] has given me a context to define myself in. Before, I was just making music and I didn’t really know what I was doing. Being around them helped me find what I like and don't like. I was more pop lo-fi before I met them, but I’ve always liked turn up music and they helped me reconcile the two. It’s really hard being an R&B, pop-ish act in a group of all rappers, but linking with them nurtured that side of me. Working with them has really brought out the based-ness, or whatever that is. It’s definitely helped me be a bit more lazy. I’m not so uptight about things—they’re very guerilla and punk with it and I really appreciate that. It helps me not put such a standard on myself and let’s me do what I want. Before I was trying to define myself by what I’ve already seen and they were really like 'We fuck with you like you are, so nurture what you’re doing and make that sound fire. Don’t worry about what they’re doing, you need to be the first and blaze your own trail.'"
2. Fuck what other people think
"Rolling with a bunch of dudes, I get asked if I’m lovin' the crew a lot. I don’t know what to say. Why is it so hard to believe I’m single and working, tryna get this money? I’m just focusing on music, because when [I'm dating] I just wanna stick around my boyfriend all day long. I feel like it would be really distracting if I did. The satisfaction I get from making music is far greater than the beginnings of infatuation. I won’t say it’s not lonely, but that’s what you have your friends for."
3. If hook-ups happen, move on
"We’ve definitely gotten into sticky situations. We’re always around each other, things happen. But I feel all of us respect what we’re trying to do way more than we’re tryna be with someone. We all have been in relationships that have thrown us off our game and hindered us from being musicians. And now that we’ve all had a taste of what it could be like to be successful as a musician or be respected for your art and your passion, it’s like 'Oh shit, I’m married to the game.'"
4. Be flexible and patient
"We've never lived together, but we were stuck living together for two weeks in New York and it was pretty crazy. They’re a bunch of messy and vulgar guys and they smell bad but I love them. Some guys are like, 'You have to do this, your nails need to be done, etc.,' but they're not like that at all. I’m pretty low maintenance as is—if anything, it makes me feel really comfortable when I get to let out the bum inside of myself. If I don’t put on makeup, that’s fine, maybe I won’t take a shower today, that’s cool. I'm okay with laying low, and in that way we’re one and the same."
5. Identify your best collaborators
"Before I got to college, I was doing YouTube covers of rap songs on my guitar and Father's girlfriend put him on and he hit me up. That was around the time I started producing my own stuff and I released “Needsumbody” and then he remixed it. I thought it was really dope, and that’s when we started fucking with each other musically. Our styles really meshed well, we tried to collab a few times, and from that point on it was history. I really like Keith[Charles Spacebar]’s style. I’m on his new album. Stalin [Majesty] is really dope, I really identify with him, and he’s gonna be on my upcoming album. I’m excited about that. I really like everyone in Awful’s style but I would say [I collaborate best with] Stalin, Keith and Father. Father and I have an EP coming out and I feel like we’re on the same wavelength. It's really cool to have someone like him to be able to bounce ideas off of and make dope shit with."
6. Don't leave your girls behind
"I feel like it's really easy to make friends with guys. Girls are used to having fake interactions, they have a lot more walls up and you have to earn their trust before they're willing to hit you up. I wouldn’t say that I get along with guys better, it’s just guys are more available for friendship than girls are. And with music, I don’t have a lot of time to go out and seek out other girls and stuff. But I’m managed by a whole group of girls. They’re so, so awesome. I’m really excited about them because I feel like it’s a huge testament to the power of girls. Girls pay attention to details, they get shit done, they don’t have time to do it next week. It’s like if you have an idea let’s do it now. And I’m really excited to show people what women are capable of."