Dua Saleh — The Minneapolis-Based Multidisciplinary Performing Artist has created a sound and visual energy, that is so pure — so eclectic that it can only be described as “A Sunrise That Rose Too Quick”. Fans from across the World from London to Romania often find themselves listening to Dua Saleh’s music on repeat, soaking up the energy and yearning for more.
The beauty behind Saleh’s sound is that it is reviving to say the least. Behind the creative collaboration is Psymun, a Minneapolis-based producer who has worked on releases from Future, Young Thug and Gunna. The AGAINST GIANTS duo has perfected a unique visual energy that is on full display for Dua Saleh’s 2019 debut EP Nūr, which means “ the light” in Arabic.
The Sudanese-American — Twin Cities poet, singer and non-binary artist not only has a uniquely driven sound, they also have the visual presence and brand strength that pulls their audiences in for more.
As they got their start in poetry, notably performing “Pins and Needles” at St. Paul’s Camp Bar via Button Poetry. Dua Saleh also received praise during Soundset — A yearly Minneapolis-St Paul hip-hop festival — from SZA, Yasiin Bey and Tierra Whack.
Dua Saleh has quickly risen as one of the top artists in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area — and is a fresh new voice that is creating waves across the Midwest. Backed by AGAINST GIANTS — they commandeer a strong image and an idiosyncratic sound that boast the visual energy that can transform, transmute and elevate a room.
Creating a strong visual image can help an artist to develop a brand that best suits their fan base and help them to accomplish their goals. A big factor in creating a strong visual image is the use of personality, being authentic and true to who you are as an artist.
This will help you to build a deep connection with your fan base and Dua Saleh does a great job at this by including her history into her overall brand image. They accomplish this feat through a natural, sensational and inclusive creativity.
In an interview with DJBooth.net, they describe how being multi-lingual factors into their creative process,
“I song write primarily in Arabic for myself.
I feel like I’m operating from a different headspace when I’m writing or thinking in Arabic.
It’s almost like I’m tapping into a different part of my brain or a different plane of reality.
I feel more artistically nourished by hearing and understanding perspectives from people from different countries.
A Sudani poet differs greatly from a Palestinian poet. An American songwriter is different from a French-Canadian American songwriter.”
— Dua Saleh
Not a lot of artists can fuse their sounds into an overall visual energy to create a strong image like Dua Saleh. These strong visual images are presented well in all of Dua Saleh’s music videos, a combination of sonically pleasing vocals and a raw aesthetic helps Dua to present a brand identity that is undeniable.
For a deeper dive into the three types of brand images, check out my article: ‘4 Brand Strategies To Build A Strong Image Like Smino’.
4 Brand Strategies To Build A Strong Image Like Smino
The Hip Hop Visionary Takes Fresh Fashion To Next Level — Music Marketing
Now let’s deep dive into “5 Brand Strategies To Create A Strong Image Like Dua Saleh”.
1. Be Unique
When creating a strong image, it’s important that artists be unique and present their “true self”. We live in a World today that embrace artists that are non-conventional and push the limits of creativity. It’s refreshing, addictive and passion in its truest form. That is the genius behind Dua Saleh, you hear it — see it — feel it. Authenticity can not be crafted or construed.
Check out a very intense and powerful performance by Dua Saleh and Velvet Negroni below.
2. Go Against The Grain
For creatives of the new-era, it’s important to embrace what makes you different. Real passion and energy is born within authenticity. If something feels right for you, do it. Take risks and evolve. For artists it’s all about experimentation and seeing what works for your brand.
For example, Dua Saleh is a non-binary Sudanese-American creator who describes their new project ROSETTA as “explicitly queer”, has a deep love for anime and connects their Sudanese fan base through Arabic. For all the creatives who are reading this, there is real beauty in imagination.
Never Limit Your Imagination When It Comes To Your Art.
Dua Saleh is a perfect example of how it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to shine and bring light to a situation that would otherwise present darkness. There are no limitations on your freedom of expression.
Check out Dua Saleh perform ‘Kickflip’ from their 2019 EP ‘Nūr’ at The Current with Mike Frey.
3. Embrace The Power Of Nostalgia
Everyone has a history, for artists that is what makes nostalgia a powerful force within the creative arena. As humans — storytelling is engrained into our pscyhe. Embracing nostalgia to create a strong image for your brand can be beneficial on all levels. In retrospect and for those who come after you as an artist. Nostalgia, essentially acts as a point of reference.
Dua Saleh and their Sudanese origins are very apparent in their storytelling abilities. In an interview with Dylan “CineMasai” Green, they reference The Quran as one of their favorite poetic texts. As with any writer or poet, you embrace nostalgia and cultural transmission. Piecing together words into powerful new formations — naturally it has its creative roots tied into linguistics.
In their interview with them. — Dua Saleh further discusses the inspiration behind “ROSETTA”
“I was thinking about Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight’s relationship that ended up not really manifesting.
They were in a relationship, which is speculated by a lot of the people in their lives. But [the family of] Marie Knight [died in] an accident, and they could no longer be together because she was spiraling through depression and grief.
All the songs were recorded before I thought about Sister Rosetta Tharpe and her impact… or even about it being sonically infused with rock and roll.
But thinking about it afterwards, I was like, “How can I imagine queer love in a way that’s radical and that has profound complexity?”
— Dua Saleh
4. Create Conversations
“That’s nasty That’s gross All them pineapples a hoax”
— Dua Saleh
For artists who are interested in building a strong image you have to produce content that create conversations. This will aid in the expansion of your brand and keep fans interested. For a lot of artists, a majority of your fan base will come from recommendations and viral content.
5. Boost Your Creativity By Including Props
Props can boost your creativity on a number of levels. We’ve seen this in photography, in music videos and concerts as well. When creating a strong image as an artists you will want to take full advantage of the resources at your disposal. For Dua Saleh and the AGAINST GIANTS team, they traveled to the very beautiful and scenic St. Croix Trail on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border to film “umbrellar” at Franconia Sculpture Park. Check out the music video below.
In conclusion, for artists and music professionals who are interested in building a strong image like Dua Saleh:
- Be Unique
- Go Against The Grain
- Embrace The Power Of Nostalgia
- Create Conversations
- Boost Your Creativity By Including Props
Also focus on consistency, developing brand familiarity and understand the rules of your environment that will help you innovate. This will allow you to create a strong brand image that will push your creativity to new heights.
Be sure to be on the look out for Dua Saleh’s new EP ‘ROSETTA’ below!
Them vultures out at night. They seen a pretty sight.