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Meet John Staine

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Staine.

Hi John, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Both music and activism, and social/racial justice work has always been a part of my life—my parents were always heavy music enthusiast with an ear for a wide range of genres and having many siblings (5 biological & 2 adopted siblings) with all different tastes. Music stuck with me early on and followed me to really wanting to understand the full breakdown of music that was created and how different sounds together made a full song. I met a good friend of mine in high school that had a similar drive for wanting and learning more about music so we began to create it for ourselves. To this day I still network and continue to build with local artists and musicians in any way I can. The activism piece—that also stuck with me early on by just watching my father and how he interacted (and continues) with people in the community. He would help and engage with anyone from a random person walking on the street to a local community organizer, so we stayed pretty involved with community events directly or indirectly. That carried over into really getting into my own community event organizing and planning. And my mentor and now friend Ivy Vainio got me heavily involved in college, as she did with many other students. Roughly 2012, Ivy convinced me to join the Black Student Union and HOLA (Hispanic Organization for Latino Americana(o) at the university I was attending at the time—the University of Wisconsin-Superior. That work has stuck with me since and now ties into my work with NAACP, African Heritage Hub & Commission, and the various DEI work I’m involved in at both my place of employment St. Louis County and my alma mater UW-Superior. I also do a lot of my own organizing, engaging, and planning with others within the community.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Not at all. I think early on it was a lot smoother in college as you don’t always deal directly with the bureaucratic nonsense—most of the faculty and advisors dealt with the bulk of that. As I graduated, I actually backed off a bit on activism and focused on music, which is always a passion of mine and I put it on the back burner during the last couple of years of my undergrad. At the beginning of 2020, I slowly got back into social/racial justice work and the George Floyd incident paired with stuff I was experiencing at work really amplified it. I had to cut ties with some friends and some family members and also just became really stressed out with all that was on. The work was not easy and I got to see a lot of bureaucratic red tape for myself being involved in organizing and leading at both the city and county level. There are a lot of people, sadly, that really do not believe in or care for the work of social and racial justice and DEI work as a whole. Between George Floyd and the Trump administration that became a lot more clear and sadly divided a lot of folks and we still see that to this day. Also, there was a lot of performative work being done and organizations doing the work as it was a trend. Music was tough to be inspired during this time, as I was very busy with community work, but I really connected with and grew with some great folks with DanSan Creatives during this time and I’m very thankful for that and we have stayed the course since! I also was able to gain some traction for my and my brother’s brand, Staine On Society, during this tough time but it was much needed and long overdue!

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a music producer—genre wise, I focus on hip hop/rap, r&b, pop, and alternative. I used to rap and write a lot more, about 4 years ago for about 6 years. I also used to engineer local artists as well. But I just fell in love with music production and stuck with it. My artist name is Minnesounds and I’m known for my music production in the Twin Ports (MN/WI). I think I’m proud of the connections I’ve made and the appreciation and respect I’ve garnered from other local artists and continue to keep working and building. Also, I think that’s what sets me apart from others—music is personable and really diving into that aspect, learning more about each artist I work with—their influences, inspiration, and their workflow. I also can get real experimental and not afraid to try new things and step out of the box, music is very fluid for me.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
Reach out via IG or Twitter @minnesounds or email for music and the same for community work social/racial justice work—It is all really intertwined for me.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Kasey Robinson (on the black & blue Minnesounds t-shirt photos*)

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