St. Olaf is known for its music — that’s not news to anyone. When someone mentions music coming out of Northfield, it’s usually generated by the numerous choral, band, and orchestral ensembles on campus. But tucked in a dorm room behind a mic is one Ole making his own way into the campus music scene.
Matt Kompelien ’24 released his second album, “Turn Out Best,” on April 30. The songs were entirely recorded on the St. Olaf campus during the 2021-22 school year by Kompelien, a guitarist, vocalist, and trumpeter who wrote and produced all six tracks himself.
He’s played music and written lyrics for years, but when it comes to producing his own works, he’s relatively new to the game.
“I never considered producing my own music until COVID, but during lockdown I taught myself how to produce,” Kompelien said. “After releasing my first project that summer, making music became a pastime and procrastination tool, which I continued into college.”
“Turn Out Best” doesn’t suggest that it’s just a sophomore effort from a self-taught producer in a dorm room, as it delivers catchy melodies and creative themes.
The first track, “Turn Out Best,” is an upbeat and polished song that’s made for summer. In the song, Kompelien pictures an ideal night in California, where having no plans might result in creating the most memories.
“I wanted to make a carefree song,” said Kompelien, “and I was about to fly to California with the ultimate team for Nationals, which gave me inspiration for the hook.”
More range is shown on “Problems,” which takes on a more contemplative tone. This song’s repetitive, synth-heavy melody doesn’t offer distraction from problems, but instead a continual plea to be rid of them.
“I hear a lot of songs about problems and I wanted to do the opposite,” Kompelien said. “The ‘I don’t want no problem’ line is supposed to be painfully obvious; people find excuses to create problems all the time, but if we focus more on positivity, our society will be more productive and successful.”
Another standout from the bunch, “Dear Spotify,” is written directly to the music company and takes an autobiographical turn as Komplien pitches himself for a business internship application through the song.
“I put it together in two days and never had the intention of releasing it,” Kompelien said. “Knowing that Spotify is a huge company, I decided to write a song, partly to get their attention, and partly to procrastinate finishing my applications.”
The album closes on a high note, with a party remix of the St. Olaf fight song “Um Yah Yah.” Kompelien noted the passion Oles have for singing the anthem at various events and decided he could take it to another level. His version gives the old waltz energy worthy of a party and turns up the volume with the layered vocals of a crowd. The remix has already gained traction on campus and was played at the Ole Open track meet on May 7.
Kompelien would love more listeners, but for now, he is content with music-making as a creative release from college stress. In any case, this Ole is taking campus music in a new direction, and for that, he certainly earns the applause that comes in the closing seconds of the final track of “Turn Out Best.”