Emcee | Writer

From its first track, Dessa’s new full-length Parts of Speech (out now on Doomtree Records) announces itself as something different. The Doomtree veteran and inveterate wordsmith — having proved her mettle in the fields of creative non-fiction, spoken-word and hip-hop — jettisons all genre expectations on “The Man I Knew” and croons a heartbreaking lament to a disintegrating relationship at an explosively-building clip.

From this moment on Dessa — oft–described as “Mos Def plus Dorothy Parker” for the wit and flow shown off on previous solo albums A Badly Broken Code and Castor, The Twin — proves she has truly coalesced as an artist, transcending the restrictions of genre to reveal an astonishing multi-platform voice.

“I wanted to investigate the idea that a cohesive record isn’t always made cohesive by having twelve songs that sound the same. I figured when you make a mixtape for a friend, you can get away with a range of genres and a lot of dynamic change. Why can’t I approach an album like that? The sequence has to be just right, and we worked hard to nail it, but the thing that holds this record together is the sensibility of the lyrics, rather than a uniform theme.”

Track two kicks off a stunning hat-trick of the record’s standout numbers. “Call Off Your Ghost” is an admittedly haunting dirge on the “struggle for grace in the wake of a long relationship.” An arena-sized chorus tucked into a melancholy lullaby, “Ghost” has that unique ability to perfectly soundtrack new love or bitter breakup at the same time.

Dessa then puts her fists up for “Warsaw.” The track boasts a beat like Azealia Banks playing Pacman, which provides a background for our emcee’s confident, hypnotic flow. Narrative takes a backseat to mood here, as Dessa spits impressionistic one-ups like “I sleep with both eyes open, standing up,” daring you to blink first.

“Skeleton Key” contains Parts of Speech’s mission statement: “I haven’t met a locked door yet.” An ode to female self-reliance that doesn’t waste ambiance for message, the track plays like a great, lost M. Night Shyamalan movie, calling forth an era out of time in the story of a woman, a key and a bottomless reserve of courage.

“This record involves multiple narratives. It explores the same themes of love, loss, connection and communion as a lot of my work, but the angle and lens through which they’re explored sets this album apart from my previous ones. The production techniques were new for me too — we spent a lot of time crafting a record that could include live players, Doomtree production, and sometimes a blend of the two.”

While the album is born of Dessa’s artistic vision, it benefits from the collaboration of her varied friends. Parts of Speech owes much of its impact to its diverse production. Dessa got her start as a member of Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree — eventually going on to help manage the group’s business affairs as they launched their own label — and members Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger lend their production to several tracks.

The players in Dessa’s live ensemble all contributed to the record, as did several top-flight Minneapolis musicians working in rock, folk, and opera. She even enlisted a cellist she found on Pandora to make the gorgeously-layered foundation of penultimate track “It’s Only Me.”

Dessa, born and raised in Minneapolis after her parents met at a Duluth music store, was valedictorian of her high school, eventually skipping a year of college and graduating with honors before she could legally drink. Armed with a philosophy degree, the intrepid Midwesterner spent her nights as a waitress and days writing reference manuals used by doctors in the implantation of pacemakers.

“Language and verbal communication were important in my family. If I could argue my way into a later curfew, that argument was entertained. My parents may have regretted that policy later but it was a great motivator to help me develop a facility with words.”

A love of words is evident in both Parts of Speech’s title and its ethos, as Dessa’s philosophy training surfaces too. The rousing chorus of “Fighting Fish” references the Greek philosophical paradox of Zeno’s Arrow. “Beekeeper,” polished up from a starker appearance on Castor, finds Greek god Prometheus repossessing fire from the humans. “Sound the Bells” sings of Mercator, the cartographical genius who pioneered flat maps of a round world.

Parts of Speech could be made by no one but Dessa, but in its evolution and awareness it is the perfect culmination of the journey started with 2010’s A Badly Broken Code. Middle album Castor, The Twin was in many ways a blueprint for Speech. The earlier albums were praised widely for their focus and depth, but Speech shows a fantastic breadth.

By uniting a wealth of different tones and narratives under Dessa’s unmistakable poeticism, Parts of Speech greatly resembles Sherwood Anderson’s modernist fiction classic Winesburg, Ohio. Dessa creates a new world, populating it with complex characters, beautiful sonic landscapes and refreshing, assertive production.

An album that can boom out of a car window after its summer release, or soundtrack a November night in, Parts of Speech marks a highpoint in Dessa’s career and demonstrates the crossover power of the rising star’s burgeoning arsenal.

Bio written by Zack Rosen

–Chicago Tribune

“Dessa has emerged as one of the most diverse and talented artists in indie rap.”

“A one-woman powerhouse…with a literary sensibility and an aversion to genre clichés”
–Utne Reader

“If wordsmith-songbird Dessa isn’t the future of hip-hop, she should be.”
-Insight News

“Profound and moving”
-Star Tribune

“equal parts Ani Difranco and Mos Def”
-Rift Magazine

“Dessa combines the dry wit of Dorothy Parker with the beat of Mos Def”
-Minnesota Public Radio

“clear-eyed candor…understated realism and dark wit.”

“witty, sardonic, and keenly observant of human behavior.”

“Absolutely brilliant.” (London)

“A paramount, intimate look into an astonishing human being.”

“Dessa stands alone in her brand of music.”


False Hopes
Spiral Bound: a short collection of essays and poetry
A Badly Broken Code
Castor, The Twin
Parts of Speech
Parts of Speech, Re-Edited

Dessa's Blog

Tuesdays with Dessica

Posted on March 17, 2015

Our faithful friend Lazerbeak is taking the morning off (having cleared it, of course, through Doomtree’s HR department) and in his stead I’ll be reporting live from the field.

Having descended the West Coast, we’re now turning inland, making our way towards Austin, Texas. There we’ll convene with thousands of other bands for the music-and-barbecue-super-fiasco of SXSW.  Some of us have already donned practice sunburns in preparation for the Texan heat. (I’ve warned the guys that I’ll be periodically ambushing them in Austin with SPF30. All told I’m not much of a den mother [too fond of whiskey], but a sunburn–well, gentlemen, that’s just an unforced error.)

I’m proud to relay that we sold out a bunch of shows this past week (thank you to showgoers in Salt Lake City, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and LA for the full houses). On our way through California we picked up our photogrofriend Ricardo. He shot this pretty sweet team photo outside the Roxy in LA.

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Ricardo will be cruising with us for the rest of the run; you can check out his handiwork in real time at the Doomtree Instagram account. Here are a couple images and a little video he put together, recapping our last couple of shows in Cali:



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Speaking of videos (alright, alright, I’m no Lazerbeak with these segues), our recent performance at KEXP is now live. My favorite moment happens at 1:03, when we’re all plainly thrilled that we remembered not to swear on the radio.

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After some great shows and some long drives, we snuck away into the woods for a much-needed day off. Snake, our tour manager, secured a TRAIN CAR at a motel in the forest.


All were delighted, but none more so than Cecil “Boxcar” Otter. (It should be noted that the photo below was originally posted with the caption, “Don’t stop believing…hold on to that feline.”)

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 Here’s Stef captured in a classic Amanda Damn Weber pose.


Sims, inverting it for a while.


And yours truly, with a red-bellied newt, a Macbook Air, and a cup of wine.

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On returning to civilization, both Stef and Mike got tattooed by Isaiah Toothtaker in Tucson.

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We’ve got one last show before hitting the SXSW madness. If you’re near Albuquerque tonight, you can still score some tickets here. For those of you making the trek to Austin, we’ll see you soon (and bring some sunblock, huh?). The Doomtree official showcase goes down on Thursday at the Karma Lounge, but we’ve got a bunch of day shows too.


Mike is playing a solo show as well:


For those following along from home, stay tuned. Lazerbeak will be back as regularly scheduled next Tuesday.

Til then, your friend in art and commerce,


Tuesdays with Dessica

Posted on February 10, 2015

If we were to consult the framed Doomtree org chart on Lazerbeak’s wall, Blogger in Chief is at the very top of the hierarchy. (For the curious: Blogger > President > CEO > Viceroy > Eagle Scout > Rook > Feudal Serf.) And while Lazerbeak’s shoes are tough to fill, I have very large (yet still elegant) feet. Today the duty and the honor rests with me: Dessica, Vice Blogger.

We’re exactly one week into this All Hands Tour. For those of you too busy to read entire web posts (but not too busy to keep up on the adventures of touring rap acts), here’s the executive summary: we’ve made our way through Texas and we’re now turning eastwards; Mike got a new face tattoo; we’re loving the hell out of this bus.

First, a big thank you to those who attended our shows in Columbia, Austin, Dallas, Houston, and New Orleans. Here are a few images from our sold-out gig at Trees in Dallas courtesy of Central Track (you can read Ashley Gongora’s review of the show right here).

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And here’s a snap of Open Mike Eagle who’s opening this entire run and impressing the hell out of everyone with his songs, considerable charm, and personal style.

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And here’s a picture of Stef straightening my hair while I make an unflattering expression.


Billy the Tattoo Artist came out to our show at the Red7 (which was waaaay sold out—thank you, Austin), and set up shop in the back lounge of the bus. Stef got a tattoo on his side, which he’ll probably flash you from stage very soon. Mike got this one, which he designed:

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Most of us usually drink whiskey, but every once in a while we’ll down a vitamin drink (to combat all the whiskey). Two of my favorite health nuts, going in.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 11.52.24 AMThough you may not be able to tell as much from the photo above, both Sims and Paper Tiger are standing up in that shot—which would not be possible in tours of yore. (The bus, as you may have gathered, is a rap lyfe game-changer.) You can stand in a bus. The human bodies that we inhabit appreciate this luxury immensely. Also, the bus travels while you sleep and arrives in each city during daylight hours. In a van, in contrast, you spend your waking hours in transit, stopping just long enough to refuel the vehicle and the people in it. As someone who’s spent her touring life pulling into town just in time to be half an hour late to soundcheck and then do her grocery shopping at a 24-hour Amoco, this benefit cannot be overstated. Now, I’m also well aware that many of you are concerned about the welfare of MOUNTAIN. I’d like to formally assure you that he is still very much a part of the Doomtree family and I’m happy to report that he’s thriving during his sabbatical.

Speaking of thriving [doffs cap towards Lazerbeak and his long-standing segue streak], this first week of shows has been incredible, in part, because so many people already know the songs from All Hands, our new record. Thank you to those of you who pre-ordered, those of you who played the record for a friend, those of you who helped hang posters at the local record shop, and those who brought a newbie to a show. Word of mouth is, hands down, our most powerful tool. It’s free (which aligns perfectly with the budget of an indie rap label), it’s effective, and it’s real. Doomtree’s objective isn’t to make music formulated to please every listener. Our objective is to make genuine music that moves us and then work find every listener who’s gonna like that sort of thing.

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The day I left for tour, Lazerbeak came over to my apartment in Uptown. We ate homemade kimchi (thanks, Ma) and we talked about what we could do to support this new project. We’d already filmed some great videos (more on that soon), we’d booked a solid tour, and we’d made plans to play a bunch of shows at SXSW. We both agreed: word of mouth is best, but that’s a variable that’s out of our control–you can’t ask people to share something organically, they just have to do it. Then I thought, wait—why can’t we just ask? So here goes: Hey, if you like the record, would you mind texting a friend about it? Or if we’re coming to their town, would you let em know?

In that general spirit, I’m sharing a few of the texts that Lazerbeak and I have shared when we’re excited about music. Be forewarned: we’re both about to forfeit some serious cool points.


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Thank you, in advance, for sharing the word. If you wanna screen grab your texts and put em up online, I’ll be looking for em (hashtag: #AllHands). We’ve got a mess of tour dates ahead us, hitting both coasts in the coming weeks. With any luck we’ll see you in person very soon.

Your friend in art and commerce,


This is Lazerbeak (the same kimchi-eating guy from the above texts) and I’m taking the blog back with some BREAKING NEWS:

We’ve just added another show to the All Hands Tour! Iowa, we did not forget about you. Our good friends at Surly Brewing Co. are beginning their Iowa Invasion starting March 3rd, and they’re bringing Doomtree down to Des Moines to kick everything off. Tickets to the actual rap show at Wooley’s that night will go on sale to the public this Friday at 10:00am CST (right HERE), but before we get ahead of ourselves, we wanted you to know about this awesome contest that could get you into the show and then some. Check this out

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In honor of this special kickoff event, Surly is going to be loading up a bus full of people in Minneapolis and driving them down to Des Moines in style for the big show. You’ll get to kick it with the Doomtree and Surly crews on the way down, run around to some different bars, and then have a blast at the rap show with us all. Think of it as an out-of-state bar crawl similar to what we did on Surly Doomtree Day. Here’s how you can enter to win a spot on this glorious bus: Go to Surly’s Facebook post right HERE and tell your awesome story of why you should be on the bus in the comments below. Surly will pick and announce the winners by this Thursday, and then the public on-sale will start on Friday morning right HERE. OK, now you know. Go doooooooooit!

OK, that’s it. Huge shouts to Dessa for the fantastic guest blog appearance. I hope you all have a wonderful week, and we’ll see you back here next Tuesday!

– Beak

The Final Hours

Posted on January 17, 2015

All the clocks at the Doomtree HQ are chiming; it’s the 11th hour of our All Hands pre-order. If you’ve been with us for a minute, you know how these things go. If you’re new to the party, here’s the story:

For labels like ours, pre-orders are crucial for two reasons. First: smaller businesses are a little more sensitive to cash flow issues, so preorder income is a huge help in bridging the gap between the making of the record and the release date. (A big thanks to everybody who’s helped us do so.) Also, preorders count towards our first-week sales—a number that’s a benchmark in the music biz. By concentrating our sales in that week, we can turn a few heads that might not otherwise look in our direction. We might get a little more press to spread the word about the record, or maybe get the chance to play a venue or a festival that wouldn’t otherwise consider us. Preorders help us stay competitive, even without a bunch of money to spend on marketing.

So, if you’ve already pre-ordered, thank you. Each record helps finance the next one—as I write this, Stef is in LA, banging out verses for the next P.O.S project. If you haven’t checked out the packages yet, we did our best to make them well worth the early investment. We’ve got colored vinyl; a custom metal pin; signed posters; a limited-edition glow-in-the-dark t-shirt; and even a miniature ship in a bottle delivered with a custom box of All Hands matches.

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You can check the complete packages here. When the gear arrived in Minneapolis, we all gathered in Sims’ backyard to light the little ship on fire—took more gasoline than Lazerbeak and I were totally comfortable with, but we got the thing burning. (More importantly, we were able to get it to stop burning.) We’re excited to share the music, grateful for the support, and we’ll see you on the road very soon.


Ariel & The Boy Sopranos

Posted on January 09, 2015

The confetti has settled; the champagne is cashed. Here at Doomtree’s underground headquarters and we’ve enjoyed a few days of R&R.

Before our new record, All Hands, hits shelves and we hit the road, I’d like to share a quick glimpse into one of my favorite projects from last month. On the third night of our tenth and final Blowout, each member of Doomtree performed a solo set at the Icehouse, a classy club in Uptown, Minneapolis. I sang with my group the Boy Sopranos: a little whiskey-drinking choir in white dresses and black boots. This time around I enlisted Aby Wolf, Ashley Gold, and Janey Winterbauer to sing with me. Andy Thompson sat in to help out on the piano.


Photo: Ben LaFond

I wanted to do some special costuming for the Icehouse Blowout set–something with lights. Something beautiful and spooky. I wanted our sternums to glow, and I wanted lights in our mouths. (After about ten minutes of daydreaming, I realized I was striving to recreate a dramatic [and formative] scene from the Little Mermaid.)

As it happened, I knew the exact guy for the job. Adam Wolf.


Adam is a maker and an expert in LED lights. He works in a little lab, also in Uptown, called Wanye and Layne, LLC. They make all sorts of open-source hardware kits and projects.

The mouthpiece has gotta be small, I said, and it can’t interfere with speech sounds. 

How long does the effect have to last? 

Not long, just a few minutes. 

Adam took out the slim disc of a battery, smaller than a dime.

Yeah, that’s great. We could hide that in a cheek no problem. But the light has to be somewhere at the roof of our mouths. And small, really small. 


As it turned out, the lights that Adam and his team used were so small they had to be soldered under a microscope in his lab. They were just little LED flakes really, that he mounted between two fine wires. But when he wired them to our battery they were bright. For one moment, we worried they might be too brightthen we giggled like idiots because what a delightful problem to have when building a glowing mouthpiece.


Now we just had to figure out how to turn them on and off during the show. I didn’t want them to be lit for the duration of the performance–I wanted to reveal them only at the end, a finale.

Could we get a little switch that we’d depress with our tongues? That sounded iffy and rather ungainly.

Could we work it by remote control? Yes, but that would require putting a receiver in our mouths, way too big.

Adam came up with a brilliant solution.



Adam wired together a device with three parts: a light, a battery, and a little switch that was magnetically activated. The electrical circuit remained open until a magnet was near, then the circuit closed and the light flashed on. The earth metal magnets he gave me were small, but crazily strong. It was hard to pull them apart, hard to keep them apart, it was hard to handle them without losing one as it jumped towards the nearest mic stand or metal shelf.

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Really strong.


The tricky part, Adam said, was making sure your mouth didn’t close the circuit. To ensure that my spit didn’t interfere with the electronics, Adam covered each of the three parts with a mouth-safe moldable plastic. Here he’s heating the plastic with a hot-air gun to do a little shaping.

I left with one device for me and one for Aby.

Next stop: The Dentist.



I’d first heard the name Dr. Nelson while drunkenly admiring my bartender’s teeth. Man, you have great teeth. Like really great. At the time of this admiring, I happened to be in the market for a dentist, so I jotted down the name of the guy who’s handiwork so impressed me. (If you happen to be in the market for a dentist, holler at him, I think he’s still taking patients.)

I called Dr. Nelson and asked if he’d like to get involved in an art project of sorts.


I gave him what we’d come up with. Give me a day or two, he said. Also, can you ask Aby to stop by so I can make an impression of her bite? 


The next time I saw him, Dr. Nelson had mounted our device on a little plastic mold, that fitted to my molars. 



And it worked.

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Next Adam wired up some LED panels for our sternums. They could be operated remotely by Arlo (Light Guy Extraordinaire).



He rigged them up to a little box with dimmer switch so they could glow and fade with the swells of the music.


Boy Sopranos Lights


Image: Ricardo Zapata

One of the most satisfying 20-minutes I’m likely to have on a Monday night. Thanks to Aby (who wrote “Hive” which we performed that evening), Ashley, Janey, Andy, Adam, Casey, Quinn for the Geisha make-up, and Laura of the Apiary Salon for the last-minute haircut backstage.



The next adventure is just over the next hill. Doomtree’s All Hands drops on January 27th and we’re steady scheming. New music, big tours, custom dessert foods (seriously). If you haven’t had a chance to preorder the record, you can check out the packages here. There’s stuff that glows in the dark, there’s extra music, there’s colored vinyl and there’s a tiny ship in a tiny effing bottle.

See you very soon. -Dsa.













Posted on September 30, 2014

ASTRONOMICALLY HUGE NEWS DAY: Yes, you read the heading correctly. This December will mark the tenth and final Doomtree Blowout. 


Before the rumors ever have a chance of flying around, let’s make one thing clear: This in no way marks the end of Doomtree. When we all met up earlier this year to start planning the big Blowout X, we got to thinking about how incredibly lame and boring the idea of ever throwing a Blowout 11 sounded (let alone a Blowout 18). We’ve been talking for awhile now about wanting to switch things up a bit and challenge ourselves to create new traditions moving forward. With the retrospective Every Single Day book out this past summer and a brand new crew album on the horizon early next year, this just seemed like the perfect time to put an exclamation point on the last decade of awesomeness and close out an important chapter before gearing up for a truly insane 2015. So that’s pretty much that in a nutshell. Now for the glorious details.

12/6-12/13. Saturday to Saturday. 10 events in 8 days. Every hour on the hour we’ll be announcing the details of each unique day’s schedule. For our first show we’ll be taking it over the river to St. Paul and kicking things off  at the newly renovated Turf Club!

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Keep coming back every hour for new details on all eight days! Huge shouts to our sponsors at The Current,, and Surly. Equally huge shouts to the great organizations that we’ll be donating a portion of all Blowout sales to: Southside Family Nurturing CenterAnimal Humane Society, Hope Community Center, Domestic Abuse Project, and Kicker Project. Sign up for the Doomtree Mailing List HERE to get a shot at ticket pre-sales this Thursday. Otherwise, the public on-sale starts at noon this Friday, and a bunch of us will be at The Depot at 4:30 on Friday selling tickets hand to hand.

10:00am UPDATE: Sunday is Surly Doomtree Day! We’re keeping the details on this one pretty close to the chest for now, but here’s the gist. For those that don’t know, Surly is a local beer company that has been killing the game for quite awhile now. We hung out with these guys a lot over the summer and realized how similar the Doomtree and Surly build-it-from-the-ground-up stories are, so we decided to use one of the Blowout days to showcase and bring together our two different worlds of music and beer. Full details coming soon. Stay tuned!

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11:00am UPDATE:  Monday 12/8 we’ll be rocking a super small and intimate show at Icehouse! This night will be a big showcase of all the different musical endeavors our individual members get into when we’re not working on a new crew record. Side projects, tomfoolery, and tons of friends. Anybody’s guess really. Going to be insane.


12:00pm UPDATE: Doomtree loves the kids! On Tuesday 12/9 we’re christening it Kids Day. Members of Doomtree will be visiting various schools throughout the Twin Cities in the morning and afternoon; reading books to pre-schoolers, teaching workshops with junior high kids, and writing raps with the big high schoolers. Then at night we take it back to the Triple Rock for a huge all ages show. A show for the (all) ages if you will. Dad jokes!

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1:00pm UPDATE: This is a special one. Wednesday 12/10 marks the exact ten-year anniversary of the very first Doomtree Blowout (to the date!). So it only made sense to take things back to the Varsity Theater where everything began. It’s real sentimental for us right now. Our friends at TPT will also be filming this event for a special episode of their Lowertown Line show. TEN YEARS! Crazed.


2:00pm UPDATE: Now it’s time to bring it all back home to First Avenue, our favorite venue in the entire world and the prime location of every Blowout since our second one. Thursday 12/11 will be an 18+ show in the First Avenue Mainroom. It will be guaranteed NUTZ.


3:00pm UPDATE: Day 7 of the #LastBlowoutEver will be an epic doubleheader. We’ll start things off at The Current at noon for a live taping, performance, and interview in the acclaimed UBS Forum (more details on how to score passes to that event coming real soon). Then we take things right back to First Ave for our second 18+ show over there before Saturday’s final event. Maaaaaaan this is gonna a fun week.


4:00pm UPDATE: THE GRAND FINALE! Our tenth and final event will conclude with the last night in a three-night stand at First Avenue. In my opinion the Doomtree Blowout and First Ave are pretty much synonymous with each other at this point. We basically grew up at this venue. I couldn’t imagine closing out the #LastBlowoutEver anywhere else. This one’s for the grown folks. 21+ and I’m sure plenty rowdy. Going out with one hell of a bang.


BAM! So there you have it. 10 events in 8 days. The last Doomtree Blowout ever. Thanks for following along all day to the hour by hour announcements. If you’ve already signed up for the Doomtree Mailing List, expect an email shortly with special pre-sale ticket information. Otherwise tickets will officially go on sale to the public at 12:00pm CST on Friday. If you’re in the Twin Cities, come on  down to The Depot at 4:30pm on Friday and buy your tickets directly from us. We’ll have 50 “ALL IN” passes that will grant you access to all of the ticketed events, if you’re looking to make a real week out of it (must be 21+, only available in person at The Depot). So excited to have all this news out into the world. Here’s a quick rundown just in case your head is spinning like mine right now.


Carrier Pigeon

Posted on July 14, 2014

Ahem. (Taps mic.) I’m here today to proudly announce that I’ll be working with Lauren Neal. She’s the artist behind Carrier Pigeon, an independent jewelry studio in Northeast Minneapolis.

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What exactly will our partnership entail? Like most Doomtree initiatives, Lauren and I are just sort of making it up as we go, communicating primarily via late-night text message. I like what she does, she likes what I do–that seemed like enough to go on. I visited Lauren’s studio last week to learn about casting (it got real Mr. Rogers for me), a more exacting process than I imagined.


Most of Lauren’s designs start with a block of wax. And a knife. This piece of wax is a hollow tube; a thin slice is the starting point for ring design.

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Lauren doesn’t sketch out many of her designs, she instead goes straight to 3-D, using files and fire and all sorts of specialized tools to shape the wax into the form of the ring or bracelet she’s imagined.

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This tool is called a doming block. Holding it made me feel like a she-wizard. (Not sure if wizard is gender-specific, I checked.)

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If she plans on making a few bracelets or rings at once, she’ll replicate her wax form. To do this, she makes a mold of her form in silicone. She’ll then inject hot wax into that mold to set in the exact shape of her original. (I’m using lay terms here, so if you’re with the silversmithing union or something, you might as well log off now, reading further is only gonna drive you nuts.) I took special delight in the fact that the necessary temperature of the wax-injecting machine is “pork” on a meat thermometer.

Next she  secures her wax form in a little heat-safe container (think of a coffeemug that could survive the apocalypse) and pours a clay-like substance called investment over it. When the investment sets, she puts the whole shebang into a little kiln-type-thing. The original wax form melts away, leaving a hollow space in the investment into which she’ll eventually pour silver, gold, bronze.

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Lauren uses recycled metals whenever she can. Here she showed me a little jar of silver shavings that will be melted and reused.

photo 2I took a special liking to a pair of earrings that she created using a process called organic casting. Instead of starting with a wax mold, Lauren started with a couple of wooden matchsticks (she has to buy boxes from the 50s to find the strike-anywhere kind). She poured the investment right over the matchsticks, put the whole thing in the kiln-thing and let the 1250-degree heat burn away the matches. When she shook out the ashe, she was left with a  perfect impression, woodgrain and all, into which to pour molten silver. Pretty rad.

If you’d like to check out more of Lauren’s designs, you can do so here. Otherwise, stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on whatever it is we’re in the middle of scheming up.

Dessa on tour in Europe — Spring 2015

Posted on May 28, 2014


(photo by Q+A)

Dessa tours Europe next spring!

See you at the show!

Date City Venue Country
05.24.15 Dessa in Shakopee, MN Soundset Festival – Canterbury Park United States
Admission: $58. Buy tickets
10.09.15 - 10.10.15 Dessa in Minneapolis, MN Nerd Con: Stories — Minneapolis Convention Center United States
Admission: $100. Address: 1301 2nd Ave S. Buy tickets

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Castor, The Twin LP Available Now!

Posted on April 20, 2014

Yesterday we celebrated Record Store Day in a big way by releasing a limited initial run of Dessa’s Castor, The Twin album on vinyl for the first time ever. Knowing that not everyone would have the opportunity to pick it up at their local shop, we decided to hold on to 180 copies for ourselves and make them available on the Doomtree Webstore starting right NOW!

UPDATE: All limited edition vinyl copies of Castor, The Twin have sold out. The standard black vinyl version is now available HERE


Click HERE to pick up the limited edition hand-numbered white vinyl, with bonus “Beekeeper” sheet music insert and digital download card, before they’re all gone. Check out this sweet hands on packaging video for the whole rundown. BAM!

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‘Castor, The Twin’ Available On Vinyl For Record Store Day!

Posted on March 20, 2014

BIG NEWS! We’re very excited to announce that on April 19th, in conjunction with Record Store Day 2014, Doomtree Records will release Dessa’s critically acclaimed 2011 full-length Castor, The Twin on vinyl for the first time ever!


We’re super pumped to join up with countless other awesome bands and labels to celebrate independent record stores worldwide, and we’ve added a ton of sweet features to this limited first pressing of Castor, The Twin to prove it. We made up a total of 1,000 hand-numbered white vinyl pieces for this initial run, and included a very special sheet music insert to standout track “The Beekeeper,” transcribed for piano and vocal arrangement. Check out this quick vizual presentation for all the cool deetz, courtesy of Promo Video Legend God himself, Ander Other.

These albums will be available at Fifth Element and all Electric Fetus locations throughout Minnesota on April 19th, as well as several other independent shops across the country. You can check out tons more info on Record Store Day, as well as a list of all participating stores right HERE. And if you’re uncertain whether or not your hometown store will be carrying this release, feel free to holler in advance and ask them to order that bad boy right up for you. It will be so worth it.

In tour news, Dessa and her full band are gearing up to hit the road again in April. They’ll be gassing up MOUNTAIN and hitting a bunch of Midwestern cities throughout Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and our fine state of Minnesota, kicking things off with a sold out hometown show on March 28th in Minneapolis and concluding the run with a recently announced headlining slot at this year’s Mid West Music Fest on April 23rd. Check out the flyer below for all the details, and click HERE for ticket info.


BAM! All Dessa Everything. That should pretty much cover things for now. Start getting totally amped for Record Store Day, and I’ll see you next week with more news on another edition of Tuesdays With Lazerbeak.

– Beak

Tuesdays with Dessica

Posted on January 14, 2014

First, let me assure you that Monsieur Lazerbeak is safe and making sounds: he’s on a music-writing retreat with a certain Mr. Ryan Olson. As you might imagine, Beak’s got a lot of work to do before the Twinz arrive—sort of a bucket list for expecting parents. So, kids, I’m afraid you’re stuck with me: the substitute teacher who shows up in last night’s mascara, a cheek full of Reeses Pieces, and a lesson plan she wrote on her palm in the car.

Speaking of mascara, I had the chance to host the last installment of the GRRRL PRTY residency at the Icehouse last Friday. The show sold out before doors and the ladies slayed it. For their grand finale, GRRRL PRTY invited a mess of rappers stage (P.O.S., Spyder Baybie, and Sean Anonymous among them) to perform an extended version of their single “Wegula.” This extended version was called–wait for it–the “Wemix.” Brilliant. The picture below comes courtesy Mark Hanson; click on the image to check out his whole album.

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Apart from Friday’s revelry, I spent most of my week at home, huddled against the radiator in the bathroom. (For those of you logging on from far away: most of this country has been engulfed by what our usually mild-mannered meteorologists are calling a ‘polar vortex.’) Thus huddled, I received an email from Magers & Quinn Booksellers asking me for a list of books that I’d recommend. I selected 10 titles that vary wildly in style and subject matter, but that all landed like little bombs in my brain. If you’re in the market for a literary suggestion, the books I chose are on display at M&Q. I also posted the list on my blog at the Star Tribune site. 


On the 20th of this month, I’ll be visiting the jurisdiction of the Chicago Tribune (BOOM), to make an appearance on The Dinner Party show. I’ll be part of an episode in which a chef, a film critic, a rapper (ahem), and the lead singer to a cover band are conducted in conversation by the show’s host, Elysabeth Alfano. Guests are served a glass of wine and a dinner of risotto and escargot (whaaat?!). I’ve been practicing a devastating stare, just in case I need it. I’ll also be playing a little unplugged version of “Call Off Your Ghost” with Matthew Santos. You can score tickets here:


Next month I’ll be switching from wine and escargot to a lovely pairing of Jameson and ice; the band and I are heading back to Lutsen Mountains for our annual melee. The Lutsen shows—charged up by the adrenaline that attendees didn’t spend on the slopes—are always unpredictable. I’ve been practicing a devastating stage dive, just in case I need it. Tickets are still available HERE. Last time the band and I played at Papa Charlies, Dustin, Aby, and I woke up early the next day to record this performance in a gondola made of solid ice:

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Alright, that’s it for today, kids. But before your full attention returns to Snapchat, I’m leaving you with one bonus jam. You may have seen this one on my Facebook page, I think this woman’s got something special (and no, its’ got nothing to do with the bizarre convergence of her name):

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Okay, everybody keep it down and I’ll tell Lazerbeak we covered binomial equations and that you all aced the quiz, deal? Deal.

-Dessa (@dessadarling on Twitter)