Varsity moves forward with post-SXSW momentum

Ruben Paquian

After making their South by Southwest debut a couple weeks ago, Varsity is gearing up for the release of their new album Parallel Person. The indie pop-rock band’s fresh groovy surf-esque tunes discuss relationships and the joys and struggles of youth. The Daily Texan spoke with vocalist Stephanie Smith and guitarist Patrick Stanton about their time at South by and what to look forward to on their upcoming release.

The Daily Texan: I think you mentioned at one of your shows this was Varsity’s first time at South by. How was that experience?

Stephanie Smith: It was good. I think we all sort of slept for 12 hours when we got home. … Kind of hitting the ground running, try not to lose momentum
from SXSW.

Patrick Stanton: Yes, it was our first. We were supposed to do nine (shows); we ended up doing eight. And we did two on the way down and one on the way back. So yeah, it was a lot. Some were very good, some were less very good. But overall, it was a good experience. I would do it again.

DT: You just recently signed with Babe City Records. How has signing a record deal affected the band, if at all?

SS: I think that the main thing that (it’s) done is sort of widened our circle of people who are rooting for us and pitching for us. It’s really awesome to work with John (Weiss) of Babe City, a person who’s very excited about our music. I think that it’s been a confidence boost and a great working relationship.

DT: So that leads me to ask about the album you’re about to release, Parallel Person. What can you tell about it? Should we expect any shift in Varsity’s sound?

PS: I would say it is more a progression. It’s not really a massive leap or anything, but we definitely spent more time on it, took out time arranging and writing. So hopefully that comes through in the music.

SS: It’s differently produced. We recorded and mixed in a professional studio, so there’s a different quality to the sound, and I just think the songwriting is a step above from what we’ve put out before.

DT: A lot of your songs tend to hit close to home for your listeners, and are often relatable. What the influences the music and lyrics that come from Varsity?

SS: We made a big playlist before when we were making the album of everything we were listening to. So on that playlist there’s everything from the Eagles to Spoon, Frankie Cosmos, Steely Dan. I don’t know if you can find those influences in our music, but I think just knowing where everybody was coming from while we were writing and recording was really helpful. In terms of the content of the songs lyrically, most of the lyrics are written by me. They do come from either my experiences or the narratives that I make up, so I don’t know — I really like using my own life as a jumping off point, but I wouldn’t say that any single song is like 100 percent nonfiction. I don’t think the writer of the song should be confused with the narrator — I’m not necessarily the protagonist.

DT: Do you have any specific goals for the album or the band as a whole?

SS: I think we really have some serious goals. We’d love the album to get listened to and garner some attention. We’d love to tour around the album, not just to the East Coast, which we already have planned, but a huge goal of ours is to go to the West Coast by the end of the year, and I think that especially after South by, another goal is to do South by again and see what that is now that we know what exactly it’s all about.