I had a chance to speak to Dessa before her show at World Cafe Live on Thursday night, and in my moment of terrible small talk, I mentioned how uncomfortable I sometimes feel at venues like the upstairs. It is a stage that is barely elevated, with direct crowd access, and I know I’m blocking people (I’m 6’2”). I always try to be mindful of that, and move off to the side/back after a song or two, to get out of the way.Color me surprised when Dessa stopped the show, after the first song, and, in a moment of professional courtesy, invited me to the stage to capture a photo of her in front of the crowd.It was a small moment, but a gesture that meant a lot to me, as a photographer that has dedicated 10 years and thousands of shows to this, but more importantly, as a fan. Continue reading →
With the echoes of Thursday night’s World Cafe Live performance still ringing in the halls, Dessa charged up the stage to kick off the Free At Noon double header on Friday. Although the afternoon performance was a little more modest than the night’s punchy mix of performance, lyricism and whiskey, it was still an astounding set with the whole crew, Aby Wolf (backup voice extraordinaire), Dustin Kiel (guitar, piano, and programmer), Sean McPherson (bass), and Joey Van Phillips (drums and vibraphone). Dessa debuted her nationally recognized album Parts of Speech last June. Dessa and her band are from Minneapolis. They’re on tour now, traveling the country in an Econoline van named Mountain. Check out the photo gallery above, the set list below and listen to the entire performance here (via the WXPN media player).
“I think I was twenty when I entered my first poetry slam,” recalls Dessa, the Minnesota hiphop and spoken word artist headlining World Cafe Live tonight. She remembers her best friend was trying to get her out of the house after a lousy breakup.
“Did you win over the audience that night?”
“I did…I won that night, although I didn’t realize that at the time, I think I won because most of the good poets were out of town performing elsewhere.”
A modest explanation for by an astounding lyricist. You might have heard of Dessa – who we last spoke to about her Castor The Twin 2011 live release – from her work with the hip-hop collective Doomtree, or her solo releases. If so, you already know that she would have blown all those “good poets” out of the water with her addictive meter and flooding choice of words. If you don’t know her yet, it’s about time you start listening.
Currently on tour, Dessa is celebrating the June release of her third full-length album Parts Of Speech, which we chatted about over the phone this week.
“I’ve always been attracted to the linguistic part of music making,” she spoke about the title of the album, “so I wanted the title to express that; [with] my writerly interest in it as well as a musical interest.” Mentioning that she is more of a lyricist who developed the musical skills almost after she entered the rap world, Dessa quickly moved on to explain how all the tracks fit into the overall title as well. “This is also a record that, in some ways, tells a story from a variety of camera angles where the past is worked pretty thoroughly in the first person.”
The rapper/spoken word artist Dessa (of midwest collective Doomtree) will be performing at Sellersville Theater tonight with Philly hip-hop artist Kuf Knotz. Dessa is celebrating her newest album Parts of Speech, released on Doomtree Records. For more information on Dessa, check out a piece from The Key here. Alongside Dessa will be Philly native hip-hop artist Kuf Knotz, who blends elements of blues, rock, and other genres with his hip-hip. Tickets and information for the all ages show can be found here. Below, watch Dessa perform “The Man I Knew” for MN Original.
As a toddler, Minneapolis-based musician Dessa started a ritual with her parents. She would regularly ask them, she says, if “we could do that thing where I talk and you talk and we take turns.”
“You mean a conversation?” her mom would reply.
Today, Dessa has channeled that passion for dialogue into a career as a singer and emcee, emerging from the Twin Cities hip-hop scene. She is touring in the Midwestern and Northeastern cities this winter after the 2011 release of her live album, Castor the Twin. That tour includes a stop at World Café Live on January 11.
Castor the Twin blends driving rap and dreamy vocals with vibraphone, piano, viola, and stand-up bass. It is a live reworking of her first full-length album, A Badly Broken Code, with the addition of a newer single, “The Beekeeper.” A member of the DoomTree collective of Minneapolis hip-hop musicians, Dessa drew praise for that album from NPR and the Chicago Tribune, among others.