A year ago today, Minneapolis-based advertising manager Brandy DuToit set out to accomplish a seemingly simple task: Blog about a new, non-commercial song for 365 consecutive days. But as the project progressed and DuToit dug further into the area music scene, she realized that posting one song a day wasn’t enough. Soon, she found herself attending more shows, investigating local music causes, and becoming an active participant in the Minneapolis social media circuit.
In other words, she got bit by the same bug that drives many of us here in the Twin Cities to continue delving deeper into the music community that surrounds us, and it’s given her a new perspective on both the music she loves and her relationship to her muse.
In honor of the 365th and final day of Brandy’s project, I asked her to reflect on the past year and all she’s discovered.
Local Current: What inspired you to start the 365 Music Project?
Brandy DuToit: The 365 Music Project was initially inspired back in 2008 by Noah Scalin’s Skull-A-Day project to create a skull everyday for 365 days. I too, wanted to create my own 365 project but it wasn’t until a Stevie Wonder concert back in 2010 that I discovered just what it was I wanted to do. I’ve written about this moment a bit on my blog, but in going to this particular concert, I was stunned that people in the crowd stood stoic. This was Stevie Wonder! A music legend! It made me realize that, in listening to whatever was selected for us, perhaps we had lost our relationship with music and maybe ourselves.
I wanted to use the 365 Music Project to inspire people to rediscover their relationship with music.
What was the overall concept for the project?
First and foremost, the 365 Music Project was an art project to blog about a song everyday for 365 days. When you decide to do something every single day for 365 days, you have to commit yourself entirely to this cause because this project becomes you and you become it. But beyond that, I also wanted to contribute to the greater good and highlight local bands or musicians who might have otherwise not have been noticed.
From there, the project exploded and I found myself in amazing situations I wouldn’t have otherwise fathomed. I’ve often said that I was just some girl wandering the Twin Cities who simply wanted to blog a song a day, but I discovered that when you’re excited about something and it’s easy to get others excited about it as well.
So, the 365 Music Project grew. It no longer became limited to just music or commentary surrounding that; I decided to also highlighted local causes, events, or unique activities that I thought people would benefit from. The project evolved from local music engagement to community engagement. Events about beer or printmaking oftentimes feature local bands, so this allowed the 365 Music Project to capture a wide, diverse, and interested audience who may have already been involved or aware of one section of our local scene but not another. This gave them the power to be involved in different facets of our creative scene.
Ultimately, creative collaboration in the Twin Cities gives us an opportunity to strengthen not only our local music community, but also our art, food, and microbrew scenes as well.
What percentage of artists that you covered would you say were local vs. national?
Half of the music featured on the 365 Music Project was local or regional. Another quarter of that were small, independent bands around the United States or world, however there were 600+ blog posts about other items such as local events or causes.
Had you blogged about anything in the past?
I’ve blogged about a couple other subjects in the past, but they were primarily intended for family and friends. I do, however, have a “normal people job” working as an advertising manager, so I have writing, design, and photography in my background. People are often surprised to discover that the 365 Music Project is not my real job.
Looking back, what are some of the main things you’ve learned through forcing yourself to blog something every day?
I suppose in spending nearly 650 hours of your life blogging about music for a year, you’d hope you learn something, right?
Although I learned the importance of putting good into the world, musically-speaking, I also discovered that music is actually about people and, specifically, how people interact with other people or themselves. We can hear this in the songs we listen to, yes, but we can see it on the stage as well. How a band interacts with one another, how a musician interacts with the audience, or how an audience interacts back, it’s these “life-defining moments” and how a musician chooses to interpret them that ultimately leads us to music.
And when you have the perfect combination of this interaction, interpretation, and talent, that’s when we experience those incredible music moments–be it personally, at a concert, or both. What’s more, those moments aren’t restricted to music, they can also apply to life as well if we open ourselves to it.
What are some things you’ve learned about the Minnesota music scene?
In working on the 365 Music Project, I realized we are incredibly fortunate to have the music scene that we do. I love the fact that I can go to the Walker and run into Jeremy Messersmith, or I can go to the Amsterdam in St. Paul and have a conversation about local music with a menagerie of local musicians. We have phenomenal talent in the Twin Cities and the fact that these musicians live and work in the sames places as us speaks to the creative appeal of the Twin Cities.
I think it’s an exciting time for local music. But I also think it’s incredibly important that, if we value the creative scene that we’ve built in the Twin Cities, we support it as well, otherwise it won’t be around for future generations. Our local musicians have incredible resilience and perseverance, but it’s not bottomless either.
What’s next for you?
While I’ve enjoyed interacting with various people within our local music scene and beyond–not to mention helping to promote and preserve it–it’s also important to respect the integrity of what a 365 project is, so I am letting the 365 Music Project formally come to its close. But, I suppose in the heralded and cliched, yet surprisingly fortuitous words of Minneapolis’ own Dan Wilson, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” So, it’s with that, that there are a couple of new projects I’m incredibly excited to start.
The first is still music. Of course, I would still like to remain in the local music scene and support it, so I have decided to continue what I started with the 365 Music Project and blog with Misplaced Music. I’m excited to continue doing exactly what I’ve been doing–just not as frequently as a 365 project.
The second is another year-long art project called “15 Minute Conversations.” One of the things I learned during my time working on the 365 Music Project is that everyone has life lessons and experiences to share, it’s just that they need someone to ask. I think we are in a time in history where people have lost the ability to just converse and learn from one another, so I want to talk about my experiences of trying to have weekly, 15-minute conversations with strangers. It is my hope to discover and learn about the essence of the Twin Cities and life, in 15 minutes or less.