New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Today Doomtree Records releases a dramatic, black-and-white music video for "Velodrome," recorded live on stage by Dessa and the Grammy-winning Minnesota Orchestra. The track is both elegant and menacing, as Dessa riffs deftly on free will, instinctive forces, and humans as social animals. It's the first video release from her upcoming album Sound the Bells: Recorded Live at Orchestra Hall—the ambitious reimagining of Dessa's catalog, performed with full symphonic orchestration arranged by Andy Thompson and due November 8th on Doomtree Records.
The video for "Velodrome" (directed by Mercies May) is a grayscale meditation on determinism, that leans in for mesmeric close-ups and pulls back for aerial footage from a god's eye view. The inspiration for "Velodrome" (dictionary definition: "a cycle-racing track, typically with steeply banked curves") emerged from a conversation between Dessa and a bike messenger. Of the song, she says, "As far as I could tell, there was a whole subculture of riders--competitive, passionate, and full of nicknames--with obvious parallels in the world of independent musicians. I thought a velodrome would be a great setting for a set of lyrics about free will. The course is preordained. And we still go around in neat loops, every rider choosing left."
As the biker in the video circles the velodrome, so goes a silver marble through sand, drawn by an invisible magnetic pull. Dessa herself makes a cameo, armed with both a hammer and a torch--symbols of human control that her lyrics slyly imply might be an illusion, as we loop through our daily routines. "All lines are curved in the velodrome/we pitch and roll/wheels flesh and bone/ total control and it's ours alone." Even big ideas are hefted easily in her confident, alto delivery.
2019 has been a big year for Dessa: to follow-up on the release of her critically acclaimed, Billboard-charting studio album, Chime, she contributed her first piece to National
Geographic Traveler, published new fiction in the Mississippi Review, and released the paperback version of her book, My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love, which made NPR's Best Books List in 2018 (Dutton, Penguin Random
House). On November 7th, the night before the big album release, she'll make her European orchestral debut with the BBC National
Orchestra of Wales at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff, where a second show was added after the first sold out in under a week. Dessa also hits the road this fall with a string quartet, all dates below.
Dessa is a rapper, writer, and public speaker whose extraordinary career spans many genres. As a writer, she has contributed to The New York Times, the Star Tribune, the hit podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and literary journals around the country. She's hosted radio and TV events, delivered keynote speeches around the country, contributed to The Hamilton Mixtape, and tried every dessert that was ever offered to her. Dessa has toured North America, Europe, Australia, China, and South Africa, both as a solo artist and as a proud member of the Doomtree hip-hop collective.
In August of 2019, TED.com featured a talk on heartbreak and neuroscience that Dessa delivered in Hong Kong. In the weeks since, her speech, titled Can We Choose to Fall Out of Love, has accrued more than a million views. Other recent career accomplishments include 2018's acclaimed album Chime, a Super Bowl 2018 performance, in spring of 2019, she performed her sixth straight sold-out show with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall. The Utne Reader called her simply a "one-woman powerhouse."
Dessa will be joined by a string quartet at all the dates below, with the exception of the Cardiff concert where she'll perform with the full BBC NOW Orchestra. Chicago's deep-pop group MONAKR will also perform a set most dates as well.
Nov 7 - Cardiff, Wales, Millennium
Center (w/ full BBC National
Orchestra of Wales)
Nov 20 - NYC, The Greene Space, hosted by John Schaefer
Nov 21 - DC, Sixth & I
Nov 22 - Brooklyn, National
Nov 23 - Boston, City Winery
Nov 24 - Philadelphia, City Winery
Jan 16 - San Francisco, The Chapel
Jan 18 - Seattle, Crocodile
Jan 19 - Portland, Aladdin