DNNR PRTY provides outlet for alternative musicians

Among the St. Olaf community’s defining features is its love of food and music. As students may have noticed in the quirky poster advertising campaign, DNNR PRTY, St. Olaf’s new creative networking group for alternative campus musicians, capitalizes on this fact.

“We want to encourage people to start new things and give them an outlet to explore,” DNNR PRTY Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator Madeline Crowley ’14 said. Last spring, Crowley and current DNNR PRTY Chair Horacio Lopez ’14 came up with the idea for the group while Crowley was participating in the ACM entrepreneurship program in Chicago.

DNNR PRTY’s mission is to promote community and create a hub for alternative musicians. It aspires to do this by hosting workshops and panels, providing record production, developing a creative alternative scene and helping bands reach a wider audience.

The group’s name underwent a number of transformations. Crowley originally suggested “Food Party,” which later became “Dinner Party.” Lopez removed the vowels, and DNNR PRTY was born.

Initially meant to simply to sound “hip,” the group’s creators saw the relevance of the food metaphor and went with it.

“Where do we find community at St. Olaf? A lot of it is based around meals. We wanted to figure out how to apply that to music,” Lopez said. “It’s a very intentional conversation.”

Lopez saw the potential for a group to unify campus musicians when as a band member he experienced the supportive atmosphere of Carleton’s music community. He observed an obvious difference between performing at the Pause and playing at Carleton’s Cave. St. Olaf, he said, lacked an enthusiasm and support base for its campus musicians. Fittingly, DNNR PRTY is based on the idea of people coming together over a meal.

“We love the food metaphor,” Crowley said. “We talked about a potluck-esque concept where people bring food to the table and there are different courses.”

DNNR PRTY will hold its next event, a songwriting workshop, on Monday, Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Lair. It also plans to host Makefest, in which musicians may come together to develop their creative ideas while holding each other accountable for their work and exchanging feedback. The idea, to set aside an intentional block of time for the creative process, comes from a group of friends Crowley collaborated with during her time in Chicago.

Lopez noted that at St. Olaf, students often settle into their social circles without avenues to meet others with similar interests. Through DNNR PRTY, students can meet professionals and like-minded peers and learn how they can contribute to the music scene on campus.

“It’s less about solving a problem and more about finding those stories around campus that are already happening and giving them a meeting place,” Crowley said.

In the spring, DNNR PRTY plans to release a compilation CD containing tracks by campus bands. The project serves as a physical product to show off the work participating groups have created throughout the year.

“Whatever the campus music scene was like for the year, we want that to be captured in the compilation,” Lopez said.

A number of projects will go into the CD compilation besides just the music. DNNR PRTY has also launched a marketing campaign that reaches out to listeners online through their Facebook page and in person by way of posters and tabling outside Stav Hall. The group also plans to put a fair amount of aesthetic work into the CD rather than distribute it in a simple jewel case.

“We want people who aren’t necessarily on the tracks to feel like they’re part of putting this together,” Crowley said.

DNNR PRTY leadership aims to spread St. Olaf musicians’ voices beyond the Hill by collaborating with Carleton, reaching out to alumni and distributing its CD compilation around Northfield. However, Lopez puts developing the group on campus before anything else.

“It got to the point where Carleton has a good enough scene, so we want to get things started here at Olaf,” Lopez said. “We’ll cross that bridge later, but we’re not there yet.”

According to Lopez, DNNR PRTY is a good avenue for incoming first years to familiarize themselves with the music community on the Hill. He encourages all to get involved and send any questions to the group’s alias, dnnrprty@stolaf.edu. As seniors, Lopez and Crowley want DNNR PRTY to become a self-sustaining initiative that can expand in the future.

“We hope it’s something that’s here forever,” Lopez said.