Local Current Blog

Northfield rocks! St. Olaf College supports student bands with studio sessions

Ben Marolf of the Loose Canons records a track for the DNNR PRTY compilation. Photo courtesy DNNR PRTY.

St. Olaf College has long been a front-runner in the world of choral music. However, the liberal arts college in Northfield is now also lending a hand to student rock bands on campus by providing them with various resources. With everything from folk and rock groups to individual singer-songwriters, campus bands have begun to take over St. Olaf’s music scene.

With the start-up of the student organization DNNR PRTY (“Dinner Party,” with text styled in a manner reminiscent of Minneapolis hip-hop group GRRRL PRTY), “Oles” who are interested in creating and recording their own music can now access resources to get them started. DNNR PRTY accepts submissions from campus artists, professionally records their tracks, and compiles an album. The first compilation’s release show, at St. Olaf’s Art Barn on April 25, was such a success that another Art Barn concert featuring St. Olaf band American Primitives with Carleton bands Nsawa and Paper Tiger Dominion has been slated for this Friday, May 2.

“The goal of DNNR PRTY is to be an outlet for any musical endeavor,” says president and creator Horacio Lopez ’14. “I have seen so much progress in [the quality of] the music scene here since I was a freshman. My main goal was for it to be acknowledged, respected, and solidified.”

“We got 36 submissions this year,” says production manager Aleks Seeman ’16, who oversees the recordings of the artists. “We ended up having to expand from ten tracks on the compilation to 14 because we couldn’t make up our minds. There’s so much talent on this campus. Everyone brings something different to the table.”

DNNR PRTY is a free resource to St. Olaf students: there is no submission fee. Seeman says, “It’s all for the community…just to show how things are made over here.”

St. Olaf’s radio station, KSTO, now provides resources to campus artists as well. Assistant station manager Mitch Kampf ’15 created the concept of KSTO Live Sessions this spring. “The idea started when a Boston-based band called the Ballroom Thieves came to campus,” says Kampf, “While they’re not a campus band, it turned out well, and we’ve been working to improve it so we can help campus bands while promoting KSTO visually as well.” He’s set a goal for the station to eventually record all St. Olaf’s campus bands.

KSTO has already been approached by five campus bands or artists this semester. “It’s not just another band video,” says Kampf. “The collaboration with KSTO is a crucial part of it.” The KSTO Live Sessions challenge musicians to play acoustic sets—an endeavor many campus bands have never been exposed to before. They also reveal the intimate setting of KSTO’s studios. “It’s just really rewarding to see that the bands we cover are getting a lot of exposure,” says Kampf.

Copies of the DNNR PRTY compilation are available at Friday’s show or by contacting Lopez via e-mail.

Carolyn Bernhardt is a senior English major at St. Olaf, with a minor in film studies. She works as the station manager at KSTO and has hosted various shows there since 2011.