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Connor McCampbell just wants to make music with a fat beat.
He laughs when he says it, but he’s sincere. His newest project, TC Superstar, is a band that makes people think, dance, and smile.
At the core, it’s indie music: catchy, weird, and lyrically thoughtful. But what makes TC Superstar unique is the live performance. Joining Connor and his band on stage are dancers led by LB Flett, a senior dance major, who Connor asked to choreograph the songs. The result is a breath of fresh air for the genre.
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“I believe in creating art that doesn’t exist,” Connor said. “It’s just not something done the way I imagine it. I want to bring that into the world and show it to other people. As long as other people like it, I’ll keep doing it.”
About nine months ago, before Connor graduated from UT in May, he wrote thirty songs and planned on forming a five-piece band, but then scrapped the whole thing.
“The old album was going to be super auto-fictive and sad and personal and just things that you want to say to people but can’t in real life and drenched in late nights in tears,” Connor said.
The songs on Masc, TC Superstar’s debut, are more character based and dance-beat-driven.
“I don’t want people to understand a song on the first listen,” Connor said. “I want you to vibe with it first.”
When LB and Connor sat down to discuss the live performance, they both wanted to bring dance more into the mainstream but didn’t have much precedent for their vision.
“When we were talking about it, we were like, ‘There’s no real protocol for this,” LB said. “It’s kind of gonna be a challenge.”
Some of the examples they shared were the dance scenes in Frances Ha and A Knight’s Tale, St. Vincent’s live performances, and Talking Heads.
“We really enjoy dancing and watching people dance at shows,” LB said, “so a lot of the movement is kind of inspired by that.”
Other band members include Julio Correa on guitar, Mitchell Webb on synth and sampler, and dancers Emily DiFranco and Francis Rodriguez.
Connor has known Julio and Mitch for years, playing in bands and working on various projects together but only recently met LB despite having seen each other at parties.
“We probably danced together a lot before we ever talked,” LB said.
“There’s some people that never leave the dance floor,” Connor said. “You just become friends because you see each other at every party on the dance floor having a good time.”
TC Superstar is a band that knows how to have fun, but the songs don’t hide from serious subjects. It’s so subtle, though, that you find yourself smiling and dancing to a song that might be about a guy killing his wife. In the case of Masc, Connor said he examined different notions of masculinity.
“Some of the songs are really sappy and happy and some are really sad,” Connor said. “I think it’s a really interesting question to ask: What are positive masculine traits? I hope I didn’t answer that with the album, I just wanted to pose more questions.”
The band has experienced a fair amount of success performing both in West Campus and downtown Austin, propelled by the band’s label Porch Fire Records. TC Superstar plays next at 21st Street Co-Op on Friday night.
I'm Will, I drive a van and write about music.