Singer, rapper, and writer Dessa joins Rhett from her apartment in Manhattan to talk about how the pandemic has affected her life, the trope of the troubled artist, and touring in the age of COVID. Dessa explains why science is so important to her work, and delivers an unexpected response to the question of what she would tell her 21-year old self.

Dessa has made a career of bucking genres and defying expectations—her résumé as a musician includes performances at Lollapalooza and Glastonbury, co-compositions for 100-voice choir, performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, and top-200 entries on the Billboard charts. She contributed to the #1 album The Hamilton Mixtape: her track, “Congratulations,” has notched over 16 million streams. She’s been published by The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler, broadcast by Minnesota Public Radio, and published a memoir-in-essays (My Own Devices, 2018) in addition to two literary collections. She’s also delivered a TED Talk about her science experiment on how to fall out of love.  

Dessa is the host of Deeply Human, a podcast created by the BBC and American Public Media. You can find the NY Times article referenced in the episode. “5 Notes From a Quiet Year: How Music Survived The Pandemic” here.

Wheels Off is brought to you by Osiris Media. Hosted and produced by Rhett Miller. Co-produced by Kirsten Cluthe in partnership with Nick Ruffini (Revoice Media). Editing by Justin Thomas. Production Assistance by Matt Bavuso. Music by OLD 97’s. Episode artwork by Katherine Boils. Show logo by Tim Skirven.


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