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New YWCA of Minneapolis Fitness Ads Feature Minneapolis Musician Dessa

By YWCA of Minneapolis
December 12, 2014
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Photo credit: Kristine Erickson Photograph

Music fans might recognize a familiar face on billboards around town — local musician Dessa is a YWCA of Minneapolis member of several years and happened to be part of a recent photo shoot involving actual members. She is one of many talented YWCA of Minneapolis members whose passion you might not recognize while working out next to them. (Learn more about her career and watch some of her videos on the Doomtree site.)

We’re launching a series of profiles using the #findwhatmovesyou hashtag to celebrate members who have found a place for fitness in their passionate lives and livelihoods.

We spoke with Dessa in early December, just before the announcement of the release of her latest recording, a collaboration with the rest of the Doomtree collective.

What sort of music do you make?
I rap and I sing in a group called Doomtree, a seven-member hip-hop collective here in Minneapolis. In college, I wanted to be an essayist; that aspiration is reflected in my lyrics. Most of the songs I write are literary renderings of true stories — experiences I’ve had or those I’ve extracted from close friends. When I’m at my best, I think my stuff runs on catchy choruses, honesty, and a writerly style.

What’s your workout regimen?
When I’m home in Minneapolis, I’m at the YW four or five times a week. I travel a lot with my band, however, and we spend a lot of long hours on the road in a pretty cramped van. Tour doesn’t allow for a lot of time or physical space for a workout. I asked Tony, one of the trainers at the Uptown location for a few moves that could be done in a hotel room, at the foot of the bed. He showed me a few and I shared them with Aby (who sings in with me in my band) and with Sims (one of the other rappers in Doomtree). We now do them in greenrooms and sometimes at gas stations, waiting for the tank to fill.

What do you listen to when you work out?
I’m a sucker for a lot of Swedish pop. Seems like every third person in that country is a star. At the moment, I’m digging Tove Lo, some of Robyn’s stuff, and a new singer called Seinabo Sey.

What are you working on now?
Doomtree is gearing up to release a new record in January of next year. It’s called All Hands and it’s a beast. After we tour that record, I’ll be headed to London with Mark Wheat of The Current to kick of my first solo European tour.

You can find Dessa on Twitter at @dessadarling and or at

Want to share your passion with us and other YWCA of Minneapolis members? Post a photo of yourself doing what moves you to our Facebook page, to Twitter or on Instagram with the hashtag, #findwhatmovesyou