Dessa Spins Music From Alt-J, Elliott Smith, Santigold At CPR’s OpenAir

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13min 13sec
<p>(Photo: CPR / Bruce Trujillo)</p>
<p>Dessa (left) and Alisha Sweeney chat for a Guest DJ session.</p>
Photo: Dessa Guest DJ session
Dessa (left) and Alisha Sweeney chat for a Guest DJ session.

Dessa is a multi-talented artist. She sings and raps with equal skill and has published several essays and poems. She's been a longtime member of the Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree and this year released her fourth solo album, "Chime."

Dessa stopped by our studios for a Guest DJ session before a concert at Denver's Bluebird Theater. She picked music from English experimental rock band alt-J, synth-pop duo Sylvan Esso and singer-songwriter Elliott Smith.

She also spoke with Alisha Sweeney about the scientific themes on "Chime," how a Santigold show influenced her own performances and her forthcoming memoir out later this year. Read interview highlights below.

On the song she wishes she had written:

"As someone who's always been attracted to literary lyrics, the song 'Hallelujah' written by Leonard Cohen I think is as close to perfect as a set of lyrics is allowed to get. And the performance by Jeff Buckley is sometimes so moving I think it's hard to listen to in public."

On undergoing brain scans after a recent breakup:

"I ended up working in concert with a team of neuroscientists at the University of Minnesota. And as part of that project I went into an fMRI machine to see if we could map the coordinates of this lingering love in my brain.

"We found this really reliable pattern of activity. ... The thinking is you train your brain to operate in more healthy, flexible, adaptive ways. So that's what we tried to do to see if we could get to those romantic centers and get them to chill out."

Enjoy a Spotify playlist of Dessa's song selections below.