Student group nurtures alternative music scene on campus
Many people know that St. Olaf College has a renowned music program, with choral and instrumental ensembles that tour internationally. What most don’t know is that for the past two years a new project named DNNR PRTY has started to shape and cultivate an alternative music scene on campus.
DNNR PRTY is a student-run record label that encourages musicians to share and work on original music. The group has successfully recorded, mastered, and released 23 songs from 19 different student music groups and individuals.
Started by Horacio Lopez ’14, DNNR PRTY is focused on cultivating a campus band and singer/songwriter base unlike the traditional ensembles St. Olaf is known for.
“We’re here for people who are dedicated to music beyond the classical realm,” says Colin Loynachan ’16, one of the organizers of DNNR PRTY.
The group’s goal is to cultivate an alternative music scene and provide students with the resources they need to work on their music.
“I think it has also become a place for established artists and upcoming artists alike,” says John Kronlokken ’16. “There is a network of support, and I think this is really important.”
Since its founding, DNNR PRTY has released a 14-track record and a video session series.
First Feast, DNNR PRTY’s first project, is a compilation CD featuring campus bands and individual artists. For some, the recording provided an opportunity to share their work for the first time. For others, it was a chance to explore a new music genre.
Fox example, Michael Betz ’15, a member of the St. Olaf Orchestra and St. Olaf Band, was well known on campus for his classical music compositions. DNNR PRTY gave him an opportunity to showcase a different side of his composing.
“There were a lot of people who hadn’t heard Michael Betz’s electronic stuff,” says Christian Wheeler ’16. “A lot of people freaked out at the 8-bit vibe.”
This year’s DNNR PRTY project focused on recording live sessions. This meant a smaller group of campus artists, but still a strong compilation of the talent St. Olaf has to offer.
The response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive. Support from the St. Olaf Music Department, Broadcast Services, the Admissions Office, and other student organizations — like the Music Entertainment Committee and KSTO Radio Station — have helped integrate DNNR PRTY into campus life, and the group’s Facebook page is well-supported by students.
Last year 89.3 The Current highlighted DNNR PRTY in a piece showcasing the strong campus band scene at St. Olaf.
The college’s Admissions Office recently sent out the Oles Rock CD, which features four songs recorded by DNNR PRTY, to approximately 1,500 prospective students.
In addition to its recording projects, DNNR PRTY has hosted songwriting workshops and collaborated on events with MEC and KSTO.
This fall, for example, Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter Jeremy Messersmith was on campus leading a songwriting workshop where students brought questions and their music. During the spring semester, Chris Koza ’01 hosted a similar workshop and performed.
And DNNR PRTY isn’t just for musicians, but also those who play a behind-the-scenes role in music-making. Last year this involved a lot of filming and video editing for the “Live in Studio A” music videos. The whole video compilation is available online on the DNNR PRTY website and on the group’s Youtube channel.
“It’s also an experience for us,” says Kronlokken. “I want to do this as a job for the rest of my life, so this is a great and unique way for me to gain experience in a nontraditional way.”