Fresh bedrock

By SONYA TOMLINSON  |  March 8, 2010

ON FORMING THE ALL-FEMALE A CAPELLA GROUP THE BOY SOPRANOS, INCLUDING FREQUENT COLLABORATOR JESSE GREEN, WHO HAS TOURED WITH BOTH PINK AND THE FOO FIGHTERS. (THE GROUP WAS BASED ON A CONCEPT FORMED BY DESSA AND HER FATHER, A CLASSICAL GUITARIST WHO SPECIALIZES IN ELIZABETHAN LUTE MUSIC.)
It was after some time with Doomtree that I started to sing songs that had a lot of vocal harmonies and it was sometimes dissatisfying not to be able to perform those with those vocal harmonies in them because it felt like the harmony was carrying the song and it just wasn't the same. Then I thought, maybe for some of this a capella music I have an interest in I could just write it and hire singers to come with me and help me sing. I was talking to my dad about it and he helped me with some of the visual idea of the group. It's kind of these secular hymns with these churchy-looking girls looking kind of busted.

ON WHAT HER FATHER THINKS OF HER MUSICAL CAREER
Initially when I made the announcement that I was going to be a rapper it was not great cause for celebration in the family. My dad was very frank with his concerns; he said, "I guess I don't understand why you're choosing to enter an industry that seems to treat women so very badly, it doesn't seem like you." And I said, "That's fair," because if the exposure that you've had to hip-hop is through mainstream media certainly those perceptions are supported. So, I said, "I think that's fair, but I think there's a disproportionate style of representation that's happening in the media. Would you be willing to sit with me and listen to the other stuff that has a shot at being successful but isn't being excerpted on the news or on TV?" He said yes, and I brought over a CD and we sat on his bedroom floor and listened. It did convince him that there were a lot of other ways to be a rapper than those that were portrayed on the TV.

FEELINGS ON HIP-HOP
There's definitely some elements of love and hate for hip-hop. I hate the materialism and the hyper-sexuality that dominates a lot of our impressions of hip-hop. I love the artistry, and the athleticism, and the word play of a lot of stuff too. Even stuff that's morally objectionable to me, I'm like, this beat is so sick, this guy can really flow, that's the whole heartbreak of it.

ON QUITTING HER JOB AS A TEACHER AT AT THE INSTITUTE OF PRODUCTION AND RECORDING AT THE MCNALLY SMITH COLLEGE OF MUSIC
I just left my job a couple weeks ago to do the tour. Being net-less doesn't feel as bad as I worried that it might.

ON PREVIOUSLY DATING TOUR-MATE P.O.S.
P.O.S and I still make and play music together. He's been a huge source of advice in the making of this album, and he's been nothing but supportive. When I was first asked into Doomtree, P.O.S told me it's friendship first, music second. In a lot of ways that's still true. We have each other's backs, even through the occasional moments of friction.

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