A Space Opera – A Q&A with Adra

Adra (Alandria Sheffer) and her music defy all odds. Originally from Nevada, and now living in San Francisco, Techno is hardly the genre that would immediately spring to mind when you read her bio for the first time, and yet she finds a natural rhythm with the music of that denomination with a unique idiosyncrasy at its core. Her tendency is towards the sound of Detroit, stripped down to its essential parts and featuring a darker edge to that of the motor city originals. Adra came to our attention last year when she slipped, Fear is the Mind Killer on her label DAT, an EP that got back to the true essence of Detroit and transported it to present. We were completely enamoured by Adra’s tonal darkness that seems to be lifted straight off pages of some dystopian space opera, so when her second release The Roswell Incident, came out with the opportunity to ask the artists some questions we had to jump at the chance.

Adra is Scheffer’s turn at Techno, after noise and industrial music kept her occupied throughout her teens, built on the foundation on a formal music education. The Roswell Incident delivers very much the same aesthetic and feel of Fear is the mind Killer, with more of Sci-Fi concept at it’s core, while still retaining the dark essence of her sound, which we can only assume was carried through from her days sweating in an industrial bunker in the desert. But there also seems to be so much more to the artist and her music that needs to be uncovered, so with that we sent over some questions via email to other side of the planet, to try and learn a bit more about this new artist and her next release.

First off. How does a girl from Nevada come across Techno and aspires to produce it?

The seed was planted in the late 90’s. A promoter I knew, did punk shows in a remote industrial area off Blue Diamond Road in Las Vegas. I was introduced to electronic music when he starting doing raves, but it wasn’t until I found what producers out of Detroit were putting out at this record shop Liquid 303 that my interest began. For a short period I messed around with turntables, then Fruity Loops after that. Having played piano and cello since childhood, I was naturally drawn to making music, and spent the next fifteen years producing weird industrial stuff in my bedroom, before I started collecting hardware a couple of years back. Eventually I made some friends here, in San Francisco that were also producers. When they heard some of it they were like, “shit girl you’re making some dark ass Techno, you should put this out.” So that’s what I’m doing. I never anticipated this reception, but I’m enjoying it.

How did moving to San Francisco influence your music and your creativity further?

Meeting other producers, listening to what they were putting out seeing the studio set ups they had. A lot of jealousy, but in a good way, it really pushed me creatively. It continues to push me now.

You are the third person from San Francisco I’ve spoken to in the last two weeks. Can you give us a glimpse of what’s going on there at the moment and where exactly Techno fits into it all?

We have a nice hand full of producers and DJs on the up swing right now. We are all sticking together and making moves, which is really cool to be a part of. The Techno scene is still small here. I’d say there’s a lot more house and disco on a regular basis. Since I work full time and produce music at night, I feel a little out of the loop at the moment.

Fear is the mind killer, was the first contact we had with your music. What did it sound like before that?

Arrakis was made over 3 years ago, maybe longer. So that was a little while back. Further back was weird noise and industrial.

When and how did you know you had something unique with the tracks on that EP?

I had about 12 tracks with that concept in mind. A close friend, who’s a well-respected Techno producer, listened to 6 tracks and chose a top 3. Then I asked about several more well-respected producers of different genres to do the same for me. It always came down to those 3… well maybe not everyone but fairly close. I knew those were it at that point.

How has it developed further on The Roswell Incident?

Roswell is it’s own thing and I’m in a completely different mind set on this one, best explained through a sequential scene for each track.

Project Mogul – The greys are in flight at this moment. Things are smooth just jamming out bending time & space.

Disaffect – Something has suddenly gone wrong with the ship now. They are scrambling trying to figure out what to do they know they will make impact with the earth soon.

Machinate – Impact has already happened here. Our government is collecting the pieces. One of them has survived. 

What inspired The Roswell Incident, specifically?

I don’t know if you have heard of Millennial Hospitality by Charles James Hall. It’s written horribly – I’m very bad at writing myself. It was a huge part of it amongst a lot of other endless sleepless nights reading ufo/alien anything until my eyes got sore. I can say I believe now. Science fiction books, comics or movies make for inspiration, and then I break the story into sounds.

I thought it might influence you. Have you read or seen any other good Sci-Fi that you think might influence a future release?

This question is interesting, but I think I will have to wait and see what happens next.

Vin Sol remixed Project Mogul on that release. How did that come together and what were your directions to the producer for the remix?

Me giving Vin Sol directions is a funny thought. I asked him and he said yes. I was stoked and said do whatever you want whenever you’re finished send it my way. I knew he loved some acid he was perfect for it.

What are your thoughts on the end result and did you take anything from that remix that might influence your own music?

We have different styles me and Vin Sol, but he constantly inspires me. What I admire about him is he’s been in it so long. That was nothing for him to put together and it sounds hard. His drums are always on point.

DAT seems to be an exclusive vehicle for your music. What encouraged you to start your own label and how do you think it’s influenced your music?

My music made the label really. Right now the label is for my music. I wanted my first release to be on vinyl, to do it the way at the time I felt was the only right way to present Techno. I had a harsh reality that it’s expensive. No one knows anything about me, why would they press a record for me and distribute it? I had no idea, so I saved a bunch of money I had some close friends try to use the connections they had. Nothing worked, I cried and now you have DAT digital releases of Adra.

All that’s left to ask is what’s ahead in the near future?

I have a show with Lights Down Low out here at Monarch, May 21st – I will be warming it up for Scuba. I produce everyday and have lots more to come.