It's hard to say what the Minneapolis MC Dessa is best-known for: her membership with indie hip-hop collective Doomtree, her own material or the poetry and essays she writes. But you can hear all her ambition on Parts of Speech, the deeply personal, tightly wound, ballad-intensive solo project that's bringing her to Lawrence this week.
The Pitch: How have people been responding to the album?
Dessa: So far, so good. With certain songs on the album, there's a lot of musical terrain to cover. I knew that there was a risk there, and I'm not immune to the nerves associated with that risk.
On the whole, we've been really well-received. Even if someone purchased the album and didn't hear what they anticipated, I feel like people have really been willing to invest some time in it and participate in it.
Have you discovered anything new about these songs?
I think, in some ways, the time that you're singing a song into a microphone to record it for your record is usually when you are least familiar with it. Over the course of the next few months, you learn more about it. Like, "Oh, this song is better presented if I take a breath here" or "What if I were to sing this song in a higher register?"
Usually it's the faster songs that people are more vocal about liking, especially live. When you listen to a slow, sad song at a show, you're never really like, "Yeah!" In my e-mail, there's a different set of songs that people really comment on. It's interesting to try and balance those two modes of feedback.
Your van was robbed in Buffalo, New York, recently, but then within two days you met your $30,000 goal on Indiegogo. How are you doing?
The day after the burglary happened, I felt really guilty. I realize that that's not totally appropriate, but I just felt like, "Oh, this is on my watch." And then when people came through and helped everybody repurchase stuff, I was like, "This is awesome!" And now, you know, psychologically, physically, I feel tired, but I'm not, like, constantly fighting tears or anything.
What's been the best part about this tour so far?
I'm excited for the first time, on this year of touring, to feel really, really confident in the product of our live show. I think in the past, I've felt confident as a writer, I've felt increasingly confident as a recording artist. But this year I think we have a really electric show, and I think we have something that you don't really find in a lot of other rooms in the country. I don't see a lot of people working the lane that we're working on, and I'm proud of that.