A Conversation with Emerging Local Artist Dua

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Dua is a multidisciplinary performing artist based in Minneapolis. Most recently making their mark with musical collaborators Psymun and Mike Frey, this budding artist has also gained attention in the film and theater world as a director and performer. Though working steadily as a performing artist, Dua has primarily been known for political organizing and workshop facilitation throughout the state of Minnesota through organizations and programs such as Unchain Our Children, Fighting Injustice Through Human Rights and more. They hope to explore art as a means to engage in complex expressions of humanity.

We spoke with Dua ahead of their show with Sidewalk Chalk at The Cedar on May 15 about their work with Button Poetry, becoming a musician, and the sound of Minneapolis. Read the full interview below and get tickets for the show here.

You’re an artist that works in many different forms. What projects are you working on right now?

Within the past few months I have been active in presenting interdisciplinary forms of performance art in a variety of social spaces. This work has helped to expand my perception of stage presentation, audience engagement, and as I navigate the world of artistic change making.

Your work with Button Poetry and, specifically, your performance of “Pins and Needles” has gained a lot of attention. Can you discuss this piece and why you think it resonates with so many people?

Pins and Needles is a memoireistic piece that divulges a somber fragility through its curt and obscure nature. The words place the dominate gaze on itself and muddle normative perceptions on reality. It is a deeply personal piece that highlights social qualms that come about when someone is seated at the cross section of multilayered marginalized identities.

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You got into music a couple years ago; what was that transition like?

The transition that I have made from organizing, to academia, to artistry has profoundly shifted my perception of the world. I can no longer imagine my life outside of the arts, especially outside of music. I never thought people would respond to my work in the way that they have, but I'm incredibly excited to continue my journey through these spaces.

You’ve collaborated with producers like Mike Frey and Psymun. How have those collaborations helped you discover your sound?

These are probably two of the most talented and supportive producers/artists in the Twin Cities. They both have influnced the sound that is currently emerging from Minnesota's music scene and they both carry a genuine love for music that continuously inspires me every day. In addition to this, they are both experimental artists that love to explore a plethora of different genera and musical avenues. As a result, this has provided me more breathing room to find sounds that blend well with my style. In addition they have both challenged me to further explore my own production, which has felt extremely validating.

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Influential local producer, Psymun

Do you approach writing lyrics in a similar way as writing poetry?

Song writing comes more naturally to me because melodies that circulate in my head often provide me with the structure that I need for lyrics. Poetry often takes me longer to process because there is no structural guidance from any external factors. Although this is the case, I do not have a definitive technique or routine for writing.

You’re also a political organizer, how does your music address that side of your life?

All portions of my life are influenced by the sociopolitical lenses and ideologies that I hold. I can never remove my artistic work from the reality that I engage with every day. As a result, there are many themes of resistance and critique that find their way organically into the content that I create.

What can people expect from a Dua show?

I always want the crowd to have an immersive and emotionally transformative experience. People can expect to feel fully engaged.

What’s inspiring you lately?

Lately, I have been inspired by sunlight.