When she joined the Doomtree rap collective, Dessa was shy about singing.
On her latest album, “Parts of Speech,” she's less concerned about being pigeonholed as one thing or another. So she brought raps, pop tracks and ballads into the mix.
“That's one of the most meaningful perks of being an indie artist: no one coming to tell you how to dress. Nobody's gonna come and tell you to follow any industry trend,” she said.
On the album, her third outside of Doomtree, she mixes clever and accessible raps with chamber pop ballads and moody piano-based melodies.
She even does a cover of Bruce Springsteen's “I'm Going Down,” which is almost unrecognizable from the original. Dessa told us that covers can be really cheesy, but she and her band managed to come up with a version that wasn't “embarrassingly cheesy.”
“I really like that tune,” she said. “When you have a particularly melancholy or noir sentiment with an otherwise upbeat or optimistic lyric, it brings out ... layered emotive textures.”
Though she has a love for intelligent, almost literary lyrics and the melancholic, Dessa said she does indulge in light music and pop culture. One of her favorite rap songs is Outkast's “Hey Ya,” which contrasts with the “dark sort of sad music” that she likes.
“It's not brilliant because the lyrics are brilliant,” she said. “'Hey Ya' is not literary. It's just awesome because it's awesome.”