Talk to anyone in the San Francisco house music scene and they’re bound to know the name Miss Dre. In recent years her sphere of influence has grown much bigger than the Bay Area, however.
Her steady climb has landed songs of hers like “Give It To Ya” and “Something Special” on key house labels such as Psycho Disco and Farris Wheel, respectively. A prolific vocalist, she also sings on dance tracks—perhaps most notably Niles Shepard’s Beatport #1 “Follow Me” via Slothacid. Her tour schedule as a DJ has grown in step with her recordings, taking her to cities across the US. Miss Dre is a house music triple threat, and she’s just getting started.
Singing was her first musical pursuit, one she started exploring all the way back in elementary school. Miss Dre, whose real name is Drea Kaplan, picked up guitar soon after and dabbled in everything from R&B to punk rock.
By the time she was a teenager, bass music found its way into her musical awareness. Then, in 2014, she attended her first music festival: Northern Nights. It was there that she witnessed a DJ set by Dirtybird sweetheart Justin Martin, who was still soaring off the success of his debut artist album, Ghettos & Gardens. Experiencing his eclectic sound signature in a live setting opened her mind to the possibilities of house.
“His house music was still kind of bassy, you know?” she says. “Since sonically it was bassy, it was easy for me to get into.”
Buzzing with inspiration, Miss Dre took it upon herself to learn how to produce music. She didn’t perfect her creative process overnight, though. “When I turned 20, I got my first DAW, Logic,” she says. “I messed with that for two years—it was honestly not very logical to me. I then moved to Ableton, and it was way easier.”
After two more years of honing her craft, Miss Dre produced a track she deemed worthy of calling her debut release. “Down Like Me” came out in 2018, and while she recalls feeling “a lot of frustration” while working on the track, it gave her the jumping off point she needed.
“That was the first track I ever released, after I’d made, like, 100 tracks,” she says. “It was probably just daunting for me releasing my first track, like it was a big deal because I wanted people to perceive me as a good producer. You look back in retrospect, and you just need to get your first track out. It’s going to set you off, and you’re going to make 1,000 tracks after that one.”
Miss Dre did indeed write many more tracks after that first release. Slowly but surely, she climbed the label ladder. "Sometimes you have big intentions, and then some record labels are like 'No, it's not for us,' and you get 20 more nos and wonder, 'Oh, dang, is this track gonna get picked up?'" she says. "And then finally, it gets picked up by one that's way bigger who you didn't expect to pick it up, and you're just like, 'Oh my God!'"
On the other side of that long journey, Miss Dre has grown much more confident in her path. She says that tracks like “Technocality,” her second single chosen by house tastemaker Gene Farris for release on his Farris Wheel imprint, practically write themselves. Sometimes, she says she’ll even hear a project’s tones play back on her speakers and intuitively know which label will pick it up.
This uncanny sort of kismet has become a common theme of Miss Dre’s rise. Justin Martin, who first whetted her appetite for house music eight years ago, now frequently supports her music and requests that venues book her to open for him. As if things couldn’t come any more full circle, he even enlisted her to reimagine “Lezgo” for a Ghettos & Gardens 10-year anniversary remix pack.
"Synchronicity and magic have played a big role in how I got integrated in this industry," Miss Dre says. "I met [Justin's] girlfriend, like, three years ago, and I didn't even know it was his girlfriend. We just met at housie and clicked, and then she started supporting me. We became good friends, and then he came to a show of mine—and he's just so incredible. He's so nice, so humble, and just a sweetheart. He supports a lot of younger," green artists.
There’s no denying that Miss Dre is making a long-lasting mark on house music. She’s not done, either—not by a long shot. Stay on the lookout for more from this emerging DJ-producer-singer-songwriter.
More from Artist Spotlight
Lauryn NjeriAcademy7 LOVRA Live Sets for Those in Need of Dance Therapy
2 min read
Harry LevinAcademyHow Green Velvet Helped Push Eskuche's Career Forward
2 min read