The Twin Cities has a long history of music, from the days of the Andrew Sisters to the eclectic sounds of today. While this might not be New York or LA, some of the most interesting acts of the century have come out of the Twin Cities, and the scene here is a constantly evolving, incredibly diverse mix of different styles and genres. Once an artist or group has written the perfect song or created the perfect album, someone has to put it all together. Like a director of a great film, a producer must bring the songs, the albums and the music to life. Here are a few of the guys working hard to keep our local music scene fresh.
@Prince_Live on Twitter
Of course, there is, and always will be, Prince. It might seem too obvious to talk about Prince in Minnesota. We’ve all heard it to death. But he’s earned his accolades as he has been responsible not only for playing almost every instrument, writing the songs and singing, but also self-producing almost every album of his prolific career. This makes him one of the best producers in the world, as 10 of those albums he produced went platinum, 30 of his singles made the number one spot on Top 40 and he is the man behind the song that you just can’t escape, “Purple Rain.” What Prince produced for the music scene of Minneapolis, and the world, is truly something special.
But a thriving music community like that which exists in the Twin Cities does not come from platinum records alone.
Anthony Davis, AKA Ant
The Twin Cities boasts one of the hottest hip-hop scenes in the country. In the late 1990s, the genre got a whole new sound, and one cannot know local music without knowing DJ/producer Ant. Gaining recognition as one half of the duo of Atmosphere, Ant has worked for almost two decades helping to forge a hip-hop style that has received national attention and praise, and has come to be known as the Minneapolis style. His layered, funky rhythms and gritty, pounding beats have spawned a whole generation of fans, followers and copycats. His work with Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Felt and others as part of the Rhymesayers collective solidifies him as one of the nation’s premier producers.
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Matt Patrick is currently a full-time producer at his studio, the Library, in Northeast Minneapolis, and one of the most sought-after producers in the state. A longtime Minnesotan, Patrick has worked with local artists of all types, from heavy-hitters like Jeremy Messersmith, to local darlings Black Blondie, to projects like the MN Adult and Teen Challenge. Patrick has made his stamp putting together music that reflects the varied culture found in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and his solo work as a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, as well as the work of his band, the Greycoats, has been lauded as well. With his commitment to music and community, Patrick will continue to influence the new Minneapolis sound for years to come.
Blackberry Way is one of Minnesota’s few historic studios still operating today. The man behind the curtain, or should I say glass, is Neil Weir. The studio that saw the rise of Twin/Tone Records, with Hüsker Dü, the Replacements and more recording their first albums here, was reborn when Weir took over in 2004. Adding “Old” to the studio’s moniker while defining the studio’s sound with new and interesting cult acts like Flavor Crystals and Is/Is, and the ethereal Pony Trash, Weir has breathed new life into the legendary space. But Weir is no stranger to studios with grand history, having previously been an engineer at Pachyderm, the studio where albums such as Nirvana’s “In Utero” and the Jayhawk’s “Hollywood Town Hall” were recorded. Hopefully the past is an indication of the great things still to come from Weir and the Old Blackberry Way.
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Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.