Press Play: ABRA – ‘Crybaby’

Following the release of single ‘Crybaby’ last month, which shot up to the top of the Hype Machine charts and garnered wide press acclaim, today ABRA, has released the official video for the track. Directed by Zaiba Jabbar, the ‘Crybaby’ video features Atlanta’s own “Darkwave Duchess” in various desert locations — dancing in an abandoned house (keep an eye out for the old-school “crybaby” dance), rollerblading with friends in an empty swimming pool, playing basketball, and flirting with her crush on a swing-set. Says ABRA, “the song is about emotional vulnerability, people being reckless with your emotions and then being confused or angry when you finally react… I felt really strongly about putting the ‘crybaby’ dance in the video. It’s dance I remember from my childhood that resembles a child crying and throwing a tantrum, but is also highly sexual. This, to me, is loaded with symbolism. On one hand, emotions and vulnerability can be very sexy. On another hand, the up and down motion of the dance signifies the back and forth I’ve often had with myself.”

ABRA is an outlier. Moving around with her missionary parents, she was born in New York and raised in South London, before eventually landing in Atlanta. Like her upbringing, ABRA’s music isn’t specific to a place, a time, or a sound. Instead, it’s a blend of influences, informed — but not defined — by its surroundings. Utilizing different components of Miami Freestyle and electro-funk 808’s topped with her own airy R&B-tinged vocals, ABRA’s voice and sounds are familiar, but uniquely contemporary.

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Every note on the ‘Princess’ EP is written, produced, and performed by ABRA – often in the solitude of her bedroom closet. As an introverted youth, she dug into the Internet to find community and inspiration. Then, as now, she found inspiration in unique juxtapositions, as seen in her early acoustic covers of Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame, and 2 Chainz that she posted on YouTube. Those videos eventually led her to a new community: Awful Records. The Awful crew — a collective of friends, artists, and collaborators creating their own hypercolor, DIY version of Atlanta’s burgeoning weirdo-rap movement — embraced her fully. Even within the rap-oriented Awful crew she is an iconoclast: for her own productions, she avoids the conventional sounds of Atlanta trap in favor of drums and synthesizers reminiscent of 1980’s pop. While still featuring on various Awful Records artists’ music, her own music and image is sacrosanct. She conceives her own videos and acts as art director for all packaging and photo shoots. ‘Princess’ is a portal into her self-contained universe and it shines with a profound confidence. After a year spent alternating between the mania of worldwide touring and self-imposed recording isolation, ‘Princess’ is a bold new step for an artist who is growing more accomplished every day. Never compromising on her vision or artistic process, she has molded her surroundings into her strict aesthetic and vision. No longer a lone outlier, she is a leader and lightning rod for a world of fellow outsiders. ABRA is a true Princess in a monarchy of her own creation.

‘Princess’ EP is out tomorrow, July 15th, via True Panther Sounds / Awful Records
15/7 – London, UK – Jazz Café  (9:30pm)
15/7 – London, UK – XOYO (1:00am)
22/7 – Sofia, Bulgaria – Yalta Club
28/7 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
30/7 – New York, NY – Rough Trade
3/8 – Los Angeles, CA – Resident