I’m constantly on the search for hidden gems when it comes to discovering artists. Somewhat recently, I came across the work of “drea the vibe dealer”, who released a plethora of punk tapes and EPs that I think truly reflect the best parts of the DIY music scene. On a sunny Friday afternoon I’m met with a Facetime call with drea, and despite not knowing her prior, her friendliness and calm demeanor instantly makes me familiar, and we’re off to a great start.
With the spelling of her name, I call her drea (dray-yuh), but I quickly discover that it’s “drie-uh”. She likes being called this, and tells me that I’ll be able to remember it because “you smile when you say it”.
Since we got the first part of the name established, I ask drea where the name “drea the vibe dealer”comes from. It’s so literal, but I knew there had to be an interesting story behind it. drea says she’s been a fan of the producer Doc McKinney for a long time, and actually got the chance to collaborate with him when she was 23. While working with him, Doc McKinney told her “you’re a vibe artist, you can make a lot with very little”. She goes on to tell me that she is also very into the metaphysical…”I’m a vibe and I create vibrations”. Her cat companion makes itself known in the background, and as an avid cat lover, we have to pause to admire it. I soon find out that her cat is more than a regular companion, as she tells me she’s a practicing witch. “My music is my practice”; to her, the art of music and witchcraft are synonymous. With witches, I always have to ask how they got into it. drea tells me she began reading tarot at 13, and got really into poetry, calling it “the OG Spellwork”. drea’s mom describes her as “her off-beat moon baby”. I love it all–while giving drea’s music another listen, emotion and the ritual of expressing oneself through words are ever so present.
Prior to her solo journey as “drea the vibe dealer”, she was part of two projects: He Say She Say and Pyyramids. drea describes He Say She Say as her first intro into the music industry, and with PYYRAMIDS (a due project with Tim Nordwind of OK Go), she loved it because “this was the first time I was a copilot on my sound”. With her experience as a woman in music, drea tells me that “the team was there for the male counterpart, and I was lost in the shuffle”. With any of the notoriety or publicity these projects got, drea wasn’t in the forefront. With this, she tells me that she wasn’t always confident in her ideas. While she had more creative control in PYYRAMIDS, she decided to pursue her solo career as “drea the vibe dealer” in 2015. While her duo projects are a moment of the past, drea tells me that “the seed is in my early stuff and I’ve just been watering it”. With her solo career, she’s been able to flesh out the sound that’s been cultivating for years.
drea is incredibly dedicated to the DIY music lifestyle. At 13, drea began to pursue avenues as a vocalist and guitarist, as well as attending B-Boy battles and DIY shows at punk houses, as they were always “speaking the truth”. When drea lived in Milwaukee, she ended up at a performance high school, and tells me that the culture at the school was very DIY-centered, and it ultimately became the foundation for her art. The DIY lifestyle of the student artists combined with the raw nature of local performances has really inspired drea to express important, truthful ideas into her music. She tells me the importance of the messages in her songs; “it has to be timeless…open to interpretation”. At 14 she also discovered Bob Marley’s music, and found that his work really spoke to her. She exclaims, “He was a revolutionary who could write a love song”. drea gestures to a little white board with a quote written on it. It reads, “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible” – Toni Cade Bambara. She lives by this quote in her music and everyday life and emphasizes to me the importance of music to the revolution and uniting the people.
drea the vibe dealer represents the true spirit of DIY art so beautifully. Though we’ve only just met, I can tell that she’s got a great heart and soul, and upholds the importance of unifying the common, everyday people.
On February 5th, be sure to check out drea the vibe dealer’s newest release “Maiden Muva Crone 3” (the third installment of her “punk tape” series). This release will be available in time for Bandcamp Friday, where artists will receive all of the revenue made from Bandcamp purchases. She also has a series of punk poetry zines as well as DIY punk fairy merch, which can be found here! Support drea the vibe dealer’s music on Bandcamp, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Apple Music, and keep up with her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Interview Written By: Alexa Terry