Conner McCampbell took a drive in his friend’s Toyota Corolla and created a song based on it. He later went to create a whole album and vision, he wanted a band that would not only create music but dance as well. Enter TC Superstar, Austin’s own collaborative performance group made up of four dancers, Emily DiFranco, Francis Rodriguez, LB Flett and Yuriko Roby, and four musicians, Aaron Chavez, Ateen Savadkoohi, Julio Correa and Mitchell Webb, alongside their frontman, McCampbell.
Since their debut album Masc in 2017, the performative band has gained traction with their energetic choreography and 80’s synthwave and 70’s dance music. Masc is an album about defying the notions of masculinity. The album introduced the stage for their catchy synthetic soundwaves and dance-centered moves.
In 2019, the group released their second full length album, R&D, all while being a finalist in the Austin Music Awards for “Best New Austin Band.” R&D focuses on two protagonists, Ricky and Dana, and their uncertainty of love and relationships. During this time they headed towards a tour throughout the Midwest, sharing their dance-pop songs and choreography.
TC Superstar’s newest album, As Seen on TV, was released in 2021 during a time when the group was unable to perform due to the global pandemic of COVID-19. The album explores the consumption of media and entertainment.
I got the opportunity to speak with some of the band’s members, choreographer Emily DiFranco and musician Aaron Chavez.
First off, I’d like to give thanks to TC Superstar for sharing their time with TREMG readers!
Emily: Yahoo! So happy to do this.
Aaron: Excited to talk to you!
Let’s start off from the beginning for those who are new, what is the story behind the band name?
A: So the song Toyota Corolla came first, before the project.
E: It was the first song Connor wrote for the band.
A: Is that true?
E: Yeah it is! Connor likes to say “TC stands for whatever you want it to” but, yeah… we all kind of know it’s Toyota Corolla.
And how did you guys all come together and decide to create the band?
E: I don’t know how things happened on the music side, but I do know the first dancer Connor asked to be a part of the project was LB. He knew from the start that he wanted dance to be incorporated. Then LB asked Francis, Yuriko and I to join. The four of us met in the UT Austin dance program.
A: Yeah, dance was part of it from the very beginning. When the band formed I was actually out of the country. Originally in 2017, it was just Mitch and Julio on the music side, and we’ve all just been playing together as different bands for years because we all met at UT. I joined on when I got back from Spain in 2018.
Who are your biggest influences?
A: Alex Cameron was definitely a big one early on. Connor says other influences are Porches, Chic, Dev Hynes, Talking Heads, Chairlift and Toro y Moi.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened while on tour?
A: Trying to take that 1992 clunker of a van on tour in Summer 2019. We really thought we’d be taking that thing all around the country and it kept breaking down the first several days of that tour.
E: It didn’t even make it to New Orleans from Austin.
A: The van would stall out anytime we were on an incline and we’d have to get it going again and people would honk at us! We ended up having to cancel a show and got towed across two state lines. At one point we ended up in Eutaw, Alabama. We tried to sneak all 6 of us into a single motel room that night but we got caught and ended up having to pay an extra $20 haha.
E: Once we got to Georgia we decided to buy a new van. We love her.
A: And that’s the story of how we got the new tour van! Which sucks because we did so much work, especially Connor and Mitch on that old van.
E: I thought it was a bad idea from the beginning haha.
A: It was a romantic notion haha.
E: Not realistic haha.
Out of all of the intricate music videos, which one was your favorite to film?
E: Into you. It was sweet! We were all stuck in that freezing cold warehouse for so long. After about 8 hours everyone went a little crazy. I have fond memories of it.
A: Oh really? Haha, not me. I didn’t like being cold, and I directed that one so I was on high alert. I do look back on it fondly still, though. My favorite was definitely Waste My Time.
What was the overall creative process for your guys’ new album, As Seen on TV?
A: Like pulling teeth haha. Kidding, it wasn’t all bad. It just went through so many phases and we had such a hard time agreeing on a narrative for what we were trying to do with the album. Musically on this album, just like the others, Connor is the main songwriter. There was input from everyone about lyrics and we all spent some time revising. Lyrics were the last thing to come together. The first version of the album was basically done in early March 2020, and then the pandemic happened and-
E: It didn’t fit into the new world.
A: Yeah it didn’t reflect the new state of the world, so then the album became largely a reflection of life when everyone was quarantined that year.
E: The creation of ASOTV was a huge learning experience on how we could be more collaborative and work through internal disagreements. There was a push towards more process oriented creation. A lot of that was led by Francis – she played a major role in reorienting the perspective on how we create together.
A: Yeah the first album was mostly Connor writing, but now the whole process is much more collaborative.
What was your favorite part of filming “Waste My Time?”
E: It was our first time making something like this since the pandemic. Being together again was my favorite part.
A: I didn’t realize that was the first time we’d all been together since the pandemic to make something (besides the livestreams). It was really fun to spend a couple days in that creative mode.
E: We had a Razor scooter and that was pretty cool. I rode that around a lot.
A: I really liked dialing in all the tiny details and making the frames look beautiful. It was Julio’s debut as a music video director and his design sensibilities really elevated the whole project.
What are some of your guys’ favorite songs from the new album and why?
A: Probably Nothing to Believe In. I like the vocal effects in the chorus, those are fun to listen to and perform. Playing the keyboard part for that song is also really fun.
E: With You is probably one of my favorites because it’s so sweet and sentimental and I love that our friend Carol (@carol.worldwide), who’s based in Brooklyn, has vocals on it.
What do you guys like to do outside of music and dance?
A: I like to animate! Also making music for my solo projects.
E: We like to just hang out together and play with our cats haha.
A: Definitely love to play with our cats.
E: I love a good bubble bath and a little red wine.
A: I’ve really been into watching Steven Universe, every episode makes me cry!
Is there anything you’d like TREMG readers to know?
A: Also, we’re on Tiktok! Give us a follow haha.