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Dua Saleh performs in The Current studio

Dua Saleh performs at The Current
Dua Saleh performs at The CurrentNate Ryan | MPR
  Play Now [23:06]

by Andrea Swensson and Cecilia Johnson

February 19, 2019

Dua Saleh - Warm Pants (Live at The Current)
by MPR
Dua Saleh - Albany (Live at The Current)
by MPR
Dua Saleh - Kickflip (Live at The Current)
by MPR
Dua Saleh - Sugar Mama (Live at The Current)
by MPR

This week on The Local Show, Andrea Swensson welcomed Dua Saleh to The Current's studio for an interview and alluring performance. Whether you've heard of this emerging artist or not, you'll want to set aside some time to hear them sing.

Saleh released their EP Nūr on Jan. 3, 2019, and its five songs total more than a sum of their parts. As Saleh tells Local Show host Andrea Swensson, the poetic lyrics are a direct result of Qur'an study and Thursday nights spent at the TruArtSpeaks open mic at Golden Thyme in St. Paul. The music stems from an online connection with St. Paul-based producer Psymun (thest4ndard, the Weeknd).

Psymun's not the only one in Saleh's unit of dedicated Twin Cities musicians. Fellow thest4ndard member Corbin contributes background vocals to "Warm Pants," SinGrinch co-produced that same lead single, and Velvet Negroni contributed a lovely guest verse to "Survival." Producer/engineer Mike Frey mixed "Kickflip" and "Sugar Mama" and supported Saleh at The Current on beats and electric guitar.

In short order, Saleh has become one of the most in-demand voices in Minneapolis, admired by online fans, critics, and fellow musicians alike. In January, Pitchfork published a favorable review of Nūr, which Saleh says meant a lot. "They could've featured any other artist, and the fact that they took time to even think about us —" Saleh shakes their head a bit. "We weren't even notified about it beforehand. [Writer] Paul [Thompson] just posted it, and I was like, 'Oh my God.'"

When you hear Saleh sing, all that pressure — the hype, the strain — melts away. Their in-studio performance of "Warm Pants" feels like a milk bath, all shimmering liquid and violets. Saleh sounds present, vocals predominant in the mix; human, as you hear them breathe in and out before singing; and stubborn, twisting out of the melody to deviate toward a new phrase.

Over the last few months, Saleh has put effort into singing more clearly — enunciating their lavish lyrics. It shows in this performance. The effort is something like the intense eye contact Saleh and Swensson discuss: arresting, jolting, and intimate.

To hear three songs (plus web exclusive "Sugar Mama") and conversation between Saleh and Swensson, use the audio player above.

Songs Performed

"Warm Pants"
"Sugar Mama" (web exclusive)

All songs from Dua Saleh's 2019 EP, Nūr, available via Against Giants.

Hosted by Andrea Swensson
Produced by Jesse Wiza
Engineered by John Miller
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Cecilia Johnson

Dua Saleh - official site

Dua Saleh - Bandcamp

Dua Saleh - Facebook

Dua Saleh - SoundCloud

Additional Videos