In between selling out performances alongside the Minnesota Orchestra, reimagining a Broadway tune, and landing on the pages of Forbes, part-time Minnesota artist Dessa has been working on two significant writing projects: a book, "My Own Devices," is scheduled for release in mid-September and her album, "Chime," which drops this week.
"In the past few years, I've spent a good chunk of my life working in relative solitude," the Doomtree artist said in a recent phone interview from New York City, where she also lives. "Writing a book isn't something you can do via committee or collaboratively. It demands sitting alone with a notebook or computer. Of necessity, there have been a lot of hours in my apartment stir crazy, frustrated and a little lonely, desperately wanting to get projects into the world."
The singer-rapper-songwriter-etcetera will be in Duluth for her sold-out album release show at 9 p.m. Friday at Sound. Monakr opens. She will also do an in-store signing at 11 a.m. Saturday at Electric Fetus.
The Duluth show precedes a return to Minneapolis. She said she liked the idea of being in Minnesota the day her album dropped. Sound offered the setting she was looking for.
"I like the idea of doing an intimate show," she said.
"Chime," released on Doomtree Records, was created with Doomtree-mate Lazerbeak and Andy Thompson, a Grammy Award nominee. Among the singles:
"Good Grief" takes the Charlie Brown-ian sentiment and twists it into the opposite of bad grief. "Good Griefs the one that's in your past," she sings in the slow, thoughtful tune. "I want that good grief / the one that heals me / that leaves me clarified by fire when I'm burned clean."
The music video shows a couple - including Dessa - on a silent road trip to a shuttered cabin. It ends with a contained bonfire in the backyard, resolution.
"Fire Drills" is Dessa's reflection on what it is like to travel the world alone and the internal resources that go into trying to stay safe: arriving after dark, packing pepper spray, whether it's possible to travel to the places she wants to see.
"How much of our attention and effort and resources are spent on vigilance," she said. "On making sure bad things don't happen."
Dessa took different approaches to her two projects. With the book:
"It takes more internal scaffolding and structure to get the thing stable and on its feets and all of the gears going around," she said, adding that she mind maps - wallpapering her apartment with oversized Post-It Notes.
When it comes to the music part, she walks.
"I also capture snippets of language and imagery," she said. "If I hear a bit of conversation on the train or pass by someone in an interesting posture, I take a verbal snapshot."
Dessa, who has broadened her reach in previous years to include fans of "Hamilton," fans of symphony, said she expects her book release campaign will deviate from the norm.
"I'm always into performances - mine or other people's - that breaks lanes, that defies audiences' expectations whether singing in a bookstore, reading on a subway car. I like the idea of putting art in unlikely places."
If you go
What: Dessa album release show for "Chime," with Monakr
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Sound, 132 E. Superior St.
Tickets: Sold out
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What: Dessa's in-store signing
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Electric Fetus, 12 E. Superior St.
Tickets: Free, open to the public