|Birth name||Margret Wander|
|Also known as||Dessa Darling|
|Born||May 23, 1981|
|Origin||Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.|
Margret Wander (born May 23, 1981), better known by her stage name Dessa, is an American rapper, singer, spoken word artist, writer, and former record executive. She is a member of the indie hip hop collective Doomtree.
Dessa was born to Robert Wander Jr. and Sylvia Burgos Toftness, and has a younger brother, Max. Her father is white and her mother Puerto Rican. Dessa went to Southwest High School, graduating from the IB Diploma Programme in 1999. She attended the University of Minnesota, where she earned a B.A. in philosophy. Before becoming an artist full-time, she worked as a technical writer for a medical manufacturer.
Initially drawn to their raw aesthetics and unique sound, Dessa forged a friendship with Doomtree. Soon after, she was asked to join the crew and did so. Since 2005, Dessa has toured with and appeared on all Doomtree albums, as well as on the other members' solo albums. She was the CEO of Doomtree, however, she relinquished that post to her label mate, Lazerbeak, to focus on her own career.
Dessa's debut solo EP, False Hopes, was released in 2005. Despite being only fifteen minutes long, it was listed as one of the top local albums of the year by Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Dessa's first solo album, A Badly Broken Code, was released on January 19, 2010. The singles from this album were "Dixon's Girl" and "The Chaconne". The album features production from Paper Tiger, MK Larada, Lazerbeak, Cecil Otter and Big Jess. MK Larada also designed the album art.
In 2011, Dessa released Castor, the Twin, a remix album featuring new arrangements of songs released on previous projects, primarily A Badly Broken Code. The original production in the remixed tracks was replaced with live instrumentation.
On February 23, 2018, Dessa released her third full-length album Chime, that made its debut in Billboard's Top 200, and at #3 on Billboard's Independent Charts. Chime was listed as one of "NPR" Music's 40 Favorite Albums of 2018 (so far).
At the fourth annual Doomtree Blowout in 2008, and via Doomtree Press, Dessa released Spiral Bound a seventy-page collection of fiction and poetry. Following that, in 2013, she released a book of poems called A Pound Of Steam, in partnership with Rain Taxi.
After having been scouted by the Francis Golden Literary Agency, Dessa signed a publishing deal with Dutton, a division of Penguin Random House, in early 2018, to release a collection of creative non-fiction essays entitled My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love. The hardcover book is set for release later this year, on September 18, 2018. The book is an uncompromising and candid account of her life in motion, in music, and in love.
In 2017, she co-wrote an episode of the popular fiction podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and voiced the character Sabina. Her songs "Call of Your Ghost" and "Fire Drills" had been used in the show's "Weather" segments in the past.
Side projects and non-Doomtree collaborations
Dessa is a founding member of The Boy Sopranos, an almost all-female a cappella group, with frequent collaborators Jessy Greene, Aby Wolf and others. She also taught at the Institute of Production and Recording and the McNally Smith College of Music. She was also a member of the indie super-group Gayngs founded by Ryan Olson (of Poliça fame), in 2010, along with 22 other musicians including Justin Vernon.
She was a contributing artist on the 2015 St. Paul-based "Plume Project." A public art installment in which images and colors were projected onto steam rising from a smokestack in downtown St. Paul and music and spoken-word pieces could be accessed by calling a phone number. Dessa read her poem "Circle Games."
In 2016, she had a flavor of ice cream named after her on July 27, 2016 by Izzy's Ice Cream, “Dessa’s Existential Crunch”. The same year, she contributed to The Hamilton Mixtape with her cover of the song "Congratulations."
In August 2018, Dessa traveled with the Minnesota Orchestra as they went on a two-week, five-stop tour through South Africa, reportedly the first tour of an American orchestra to the country, and helped document the trip for Minnesota Public Radio alongside MPR journalist and cultural critic Euan Kerr.
Solo studio albums
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|US||US Hip-Hop||US Indie|
|A Badly Broken Code||—||48||—|
|Castor, the Twin||—||26||36|
|Parts of Speech||74||—||19|
- False Hopes (2005)
- Parts of Speech, Re-Edited (2014)
- "Matches to Paper Dolls ('Castor, the Twin' Mix)" (2013)
- "Warsaw" (2013)
- "Call Off Your Ghost" (2013)
- "Quinine" (2016)
- "Good Grief" (2017)
- "Fire Drills" (2017)
- "5 Out of 6" (2018)
- Medida (2004)
- Sims – "No Homeowners" from Lights Out Paris (2005)
- Kanser – "No D in Erogenous" from Kanser (2005)
- Paper Tiger – "Speedmetal" from False Hopes (2007)
- Mel Gibson and the Pants – "Bit of a Buzz" from Sea vs. Shining Sea (2007)
- Heiruspecs – "Change Is Coming" from Heiruspecs (2008)
- P.O.S – "Low Light Low Life" from Never Better (2008)
- Paper Tiger – "Palace" and "And the Camera" from Made Like Us (2010)
- Lazerbeak – "Bound" from Legend Recognize Legend (2010)
- Gayngs – "No Sweat" "Faded High" from Relayted (2010)
- p-teK – "This Bridge Is Burning for You" from Oh! What a Miracle! (2011)
- Hamilton Mixtape - "Congratulations" from Hamilton Mixtape (2016)
- Lin-Manuel Miranda - "Almost Like Praying" - Benefit single for Hurricane Maria Relief (2017)
- Joey Van Phillips - "Broken Arrow" (with P.O.S.) from Punch Bowl (2017)
- The Mountain Goats - "Balance" - Cover version for I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats (2018)
- Spiral Bound (2009)
- Sleeping with Nikki (2011)
- Are You Handsome (2013)
- A Pound of Steam (2013)
- My Own Devices: True Stories from The Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love (Expected September 18, 2018)
- "Students Get Schooled on Hip-Hop at Minn. College". The New York Times.
- Wander, Margret (May 23, 2013). "Good morning, world. Today is my birthday, ..." Facebook. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- Eveland. "Dessa's mom, Sylvia Toftness, shows us around her Wisconsin cattle farm". City Pages.
- "Dessa's brother (Max Wander, see "Children's Work from A Badly Broken Code) has been singing "The Chaconne" with her this week". twitter.com.
- Darling, Dessa. "Dessa reflects on her artistic journey - City Pages".
- "Best of What's Next: Dessa".
- "Making Music Series: Dessa on Coffman Memorial Union". University of Minnesota.
- "The Revolution Starts... Right After the Drinks". City Pages. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011.
- "University of Minnesota, College of Liberal Arts, 2012 Spring Commencement: Keynote Address by Dessa". University of Minnesota, College of Liberal Arts.
- "A Badly Broken Code". Doomtree Store.
- "Review: Dessa – Castor, the Twin (2011)". Mezzic. October 6, 2011.
- "Locks of Love – Dessa". HipHopDX.
- "Spiral Bound review". Culture Bully.
- "Wandering New Orleans After Seeing It From the Stage".
- "dessa - McNally Smith College of Music President's Blog". blog.mcnallysmith.edu. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
- Mark (February 21, 2012). "Ethics and Hip Hop: A Discussion with Dessa – Tickets on sale NOW!". Nobel Peace Prize Forum. Archived from the original on March 3, 2013. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
- "2012 Forum: "The Price of Peace"". Nobel Peace Prize Forum. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
- Thompson, Erik (December 26, 2012). "MN Original leaps forward". citypages.com. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
- Kerr, Euan. "Plume Project aims to make art in St. Paul's sky".
- "Izzy's announces 'Dessa's Existential Crunch' ice cream".
- Johnson, Cecilia. "Hear Dessa's ferocious song on "The Hamilton Mixtape"".
- Riemenschneider, Chris. "Dessa gives a truly brainy performance with Minnesota Orchestra".
- "Minnesota Scene: Dessa to sing, U.S. curlers to throw pitch before Twins' home opener".
- Dessa; Kerr, Euan (August 2018). "Minnesota Orchestra in South Africa". Minnesota Public Radio.