Every Year Austin plays host to an independent music festival known as South By South West. This year, according to the city of Austin, the festival has brought in more people than ever before. An energy like nothing else permeates through the air while people from all walks of life gather to enjoy the passion they came here for…music.
On Wednesday night, a standout showcase of talent occurred that was scores above the rest, and the crowd that gathered there knew it. Doomtree, a hip-hop collective from Minneapolis, held an event for all performers involved at Flamingo Cantina. Boasting a roster full of raw talent such as Sims, P.O.S., Lazerbeak, Paper Tiger, and Dessa, their performances packed the venue far beyond capacity.
The standout performer of the evening proved to be the lone female of Doomtree, Dessa. She evokes a modern throwback feel, bringing to mind Billie Holiday as much as Erykah Badu all wrapped up in one little neat package. I had a chance to speak with her after the dynamite set she performed, giving us a glimpse into her inspirations and how a spoken word artist landed herself in the boy’s club known as the hip-hop industry.
Thrillcall: How did you come to join up with the Doomtree Collective?
Dessa: I always has the biggest respect for the Doomtree crew, and upon meeting P.O.S. we actually started dating. Since we’re no longer together, obviously we’re still good friends, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be involved with this amazing talented group of people.
Thrillcall: Your art seems rooted in spoken word and illustrative story telling. Did that make the transition to hip-hop an easy one for you?
Dessa: Initially I was involved with A’Capella groups and performing at poetry slams. The transition seemed like a natural one after getting the opportunity to guest on different Doomtree records.
Thrillcall: Do you forsee leaving Minneapolis or do those surroundings inspire what you create?
Dessa: I’m pretty deeply rooted in Minneapolis, but no one knows what the future holds.
In addition to her involvement with Doomtree, Dessa also teaches at the Institute of Production and Recording and the McNally Smith College of Music. She released a book of original poetry titled “Spiral Bound in 2009, to critical acclaim. Her debut album with Doomtree, “A Badly Broken Code,” contains both elegance and raw emotion.
After leaving Austin, you can catch her on the Doomtree “Wings With Teeth” tour all across the country.