We recently caught up with Michigan-native and Grand Rapids resident SuperDre (Andrea Wallace). The producer/DJ filled us in on growing up surrounded by music, what Michigan musicians inspire her and some of the best places to hear electronic music in the Midwest. SuperDre’s distinctive, atmospheric arrangements have earned her a number of accolades including a Grand Rapids DJ of the Year nod and being voted one of the 10 most influential electronic artists in the Midwest. Here at Absolute Michigan, we can’t think of a better venue for a SuperDre set than Electric Forest.
Your website says you’re a byproduct of years of classical music training and nerdy computer skills. Can you tell me a little about how that unfolded?
I’ve been playing music for a long time. My mother is a classically trained pianist, so she taught my brother and I how to play when we were really young. When I was in elementary school I started in band playing the saxophone and played that all the way through college. I picked up the electric guitar, drums and violin during junior high and high school.
I’ve always been a huge classical music fan. To me reading music is really important but at the same time having the ability to play by ear is even more important, especially with genres like jazz and electronic music.
As far as computers, well nowadays you almost have to use a computer at some point for creating, mixing or mastering your music, but aside from that…I also moonlight as a software engineer/web consultant. Gotta pay the bills!
Who are some of the Michigan musicians who have most influenced you and how?
Michigan has a huge music culture. My favorites are probably mostly out of Detroit. I was heavily influenced by Motown growing up. That’s pretty much what my parents listened to: jazz, soul, funk, latin and r&b music.
My parents lived in Detroit before I was born, but I have a lot of family there. I’m still there a lot, so I obviously grew up on a lot of electronic music as well. The techno “big three” of Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin
Saunderson were big when I was little. Then as I get a little older people like Delano Smith and Seth Troxler were bigger influences.
I’m also a huge fan of Detroit hip-hop. We all know Eminem is one of the best, but there are a ton of underground artists in Detroit that I really really like. Royce Da 5’9″, Magestik Legend and RoSpit are some of my favorites. Michigan was/is home to some fabulous artists from all genres. I mean hey, we had Sonny Bono, Aaliyah … and of course Madonna.
It’s always hard to choose, but can you tell us a few of your favorite clubs or festivals in Michigan?
Hmmmm. That’s probably not that hard – ha ha. As far as festivals in Michigan, I mean, I’m a house/techno head, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that DEMF is my favorite festival, or Movement I mean. It’ll always be DEMF to me. Rothbury comes in a close second. I just loved the diversity of it and on top of that, the way they decorate the forest is just plain beautiful. I seriously cannot wait until Electric Forest to see what tricks they have up their sleeve. I know it’s going to look and sound amazing. I also love the Detroit Jazz Festival and I am looking forward Soundfest 2011, The Blastoff, etc. for music festivals anyway.
As far as clubs for electronic music, I wish we had more in my city of Grand Rapids, but I really like Billy’s in Eastown where I host a weekly electronic music nite featuring DJ’s from all over the country and sometimes even the world. I also like Lower Level. In Detroit, I love The Works still and TV Lounge. One of my all time Midwest favorites though, is still SmartBar in Chicago. The sound system in that place is ridiculous. Love it.
Who are you most excited to see at Electric Forest and who would you urge your fans to check out?
I’ve seen and played with a lot of artists on the list before, like Kaskade, Pretty Lights, Bassnectar, EOTO, Big Gigantic, Eliot Lipp, Paper Diamond and Emancipator so I don’t know. I am looking forward to seeing Stephen Marley and String Cheese Incident who I’ve actually never seen live before, just on TV.
I’m just excited to be included on the lineup. Plus, I think I’m the only really minimal/tech/house producer on the lineup that I know of and one of just a few who is actually born and raised in Michigan and still lives here. I’m going to really make it a point to look up everyone before I get there, so I can hear their music.
As far as my fans, I don’t know, honestly. I’d urge them to check out as many people and soak up as much of the festival as humanly possible. It’s going to be a great weekend, so make it count.
Learn more about SuperDre at SuperDre.com. Here’s a video of SuperDre from last summer’s Grand Rapids Electronic Music Night with Flying Without Wingz that you should check out and definitely have a look at Get ‘Em Up featuring FW2 and some awesome animation.