TC Superstar chat ‘Static Dynamic’, martians and “embracing visual aesthetics”

TC Superstar frontperson Connor McCampbell dishes on the celestial genesis of Static Dynamic and the “most fun, feelgood, over-the-top genres.”   

TC Superstar guided listeners on an interplanetary joyride on Static Dynamic, a celestial album spanning both the cosmos and the reaches of electronica.

Released last week, the eight-track project is anchored by a heady concept around planetary colonisation and a commitment to spacey aesthetics, showcasing a creative vision of both style and substance.

TC Superstar interview

Now, TC Superstar frontperson Connor McCampbell has swung by Happy for an insightful deep-dive into Static Dynamic, NASA, and cats as the ultimate source of happiness.

Check out our full interview with TC Superstar below, and scroll down to listen to their sprawling new album, Static Dynamic.    

HAPPY: What are you up to today?

TC SUPERSTAR: Today I’m putting my life back together a bit. We just got back from a ten day run on the west coast, so I’m doing laundry, getting groceries, cleaning out the van, moving some money around to pay bills, etc.

I took our young cat to the vet this morning for some shots where we discovered she is not a male cat as we were told by the same vet a few months ago. Most of my time today has been spent sending emails and getting a record prepped for distribution for our label, Flyer Club.

TC Superstar interview

HAPPY: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?

TC SUPERSTAR: I’m from Houston originally, but have lived in Austin, Texas since 2013. The people here are fantastic and I love the scene in town, but it’s changed a lot over the years.

With the influx of more and more tech companies, the cost of living here has skyrocketed. I know many bands/bookers/musicians that couldn’t make it here through the pandemic and had to leave for greener pastures. 

Austin is a fascinating place because so many musicians from around Texas flock here. Despite all the changes, there are still tons of opportunities to play live and a great diversity of sound in town.

While the culture of the city seems less weird every month, the music scene here churns out incredibly talented acts approaching performance in a novel way. 

TC Superstar interview

HAPPY: Describe an average day? 

TC SUPERSTAR: I don’t really have an average day and could definitely use more regulation in my life. Some days I’m a morning person, other days a night owl.

I’ve been without stable income for about a year now, picking up whatever work comes my way; so it’s hard to build consistency when you’re hopping between jobs.

When I’m given the opportunity, most days start with some green tea, a smoke (which I’m trying to work out of my routine), and a podcast on the back porch. I like to use this time to reflect on yesterday and prepare myself for the day ahead of me.

TC Superstar interview

HAPPY: What about your ultimate day?

TC SUPERSTAR: My ultimate day would probably still begin with some green tea and a moment to myself, but then something crazy like white water rafting.

I love new experiences, so lunch would have to be some kind of meal I’ve never tried before, ideally around a large table with friends and family. Maybe we can all squeeze in a game of lazer tag or two before stoner arts and crafts hour, followed by a dinner where all the food has been made into dippin’ dots (sweet and savory).

After that we could all skateboard to a little rock n roll show on the beach, spend the evening bobbing in the waves to the soundtrack of my youth. That would be a pretty crazy day. 

HAPPY: What did you read or watch growing up that fuelled your passion for music?

TC SUPERSTAR: I saw School of Rock when I was probably nine or ten years old. While I think that I was already on a track to pursue music by then, that movie was like having a playbook.

All you need is some friends and instruments and a little bit of practice. I tried to form my first bands unsuccessfully in middle school and started to gig around town with groups in highschool.

I think Richard Linklater knew what he was doing with that film, and I’m sure it helped inspire a generation of kids to use music as a tool of expression outside of whatever pedagogical instruction they may or may not have. 

HAPPY: Your latest album feels like a sonic journey through various moods and landscapes. Can you share some anecdotes about the places and experiences that influenced its creation?

TC SUPERSTAR: Our newest record, Static Dynamic, takes place on two planets: Earth and Mars. The record tells the story of a love separated by space, exploring the effects of Martian colonization on a romantic relationship.

Many of the songs alternate between the two protagonists’ experiences and shared memory. I wanted everything that takes place on Mars to feel desolate, lonely, and isolated.

I have not been to the red planet obviously, so all of the inspiration for that sonic landscape came from cinema, as well as some sound NASA gathered with a rover on the Martian surface, some of which I used in portions of these songs.

The sonic landscape for Earth came from my experiences touring with the band. I’ve been fortunate to see and hear so much humanity on the road, and I’ve recorded voice memos of many of the most vibrant sonic landscapes I’ve encountered.

I used these ambient recordings of lively human activity to bring a brightness and a chaos to sections of songs taking place on Earth. 


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HAPPY: The visuals you incorporate into your shows and social media are incredibly vibrant and eye-catching. How important is aesthetic expression to your overall artistic message?

TC SUPERSTAR: I’ve embraced visual aesthetics more and more over my years as a musician. If you don’t project some kind of unified visual aesthetic, one will be assigned to you and/or projected onto you.

For this project, we’ve always strived for simplicity and uniformity to some degree in our costumes as to emphasise the movement of the dancers.

When the audience is able to focus on our movement, we can use our bodies to manipulate the energy of the entire room. For almost everything we’ve done, that means solid, bright colors without much visual clutter.

Every album we’ve released has had a different color scheme, carefully picked for the mood and theme of the music. The color palette for our newest record is built around the spectrum from red to yellow, for the Martian planet; hues of blue, for planet Earth; black as the expanse of space; and white as the unseen hand of the corporation. 

TC Superstar interview

HAPPY: Collaborations seem to come naturally to your band. Tell us about a memorable moment when a spontaneous creative partnership added a whole new dimension to a track?

TC SUPERSTAR: Many of our past albums involved more collaborations, but the newest record was pretty limited. Trey Gutierrez did all the congas on the record in one session; Aaron Chavez recorded some synth lines across the album.

Ateen SavadKoohi tracked guitar on two or three songs; Mitchell Webb tracked some horn parts; and my partner Sydney Mike-Mayer sang backup vocals on most of the songs.

Overall the music didn’t stray too far from where it was written, likely because I produced it in such a short time period. Visually we collaborated with Rie Oh, a tattoo artist and friend of the band, to create illustrations for each of the songs on this record.

That was really exciting, to come to them with an idea and get back these beautifully rendered, cinematic illustrations that perfectly capture the emotions of the album.

We ended up basing a lot of our merch and tour poster designs around this set of illustrations, and I think it helped to tie the whole story of the record together. 

TC Superstar interview

HAPPY: DIY culture appears to be intertwined with your approach. How has your hands-on involvement in different aspects of your music’s production shaped your artistic evolution?

TC SUPERSTAR: We’re extremely DIY in nature, mostly because we’ve never had any kind of budget, but on top of that it’s beautiful to see people come together to create something from nothing.

I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by so many creative and generous people that have made this project possible through their talents. Outside of our band, there is a whole national network of musicians and artists who provide a support system for each other. It feels great anytime you can help someone out in the DIY scene because you can feel yourself keeping it alive. 

HAPPY: The live music scene has faced challenges recently, but also shown remarkable resilience. How have you adapted to these changes, and what do you look forward to in the future of live performances?

TC SUPERSTAR: That’s a great question that I don’t have a great answer to. We’re looking at moving out of Austin, the rent and cost of living just don’t make sense for us anymore.

Many incredible house and DIY venues have closed down over the last couple years, I’m hoping we see new spots for small bands start to pop back up.

Ticket prices for major events have gone crazy, so I’m hoping concertgoers seek out more intimate shows as an alternative, but many of the mid-cap venues I know are struggling right now.

We’ve had some pretty terrible offers from major record labels, so we started our own independent label that now has a handful of talented acts on it.

Despite all the setbacks live music has had and will continue to have, there are two things I can always count on for the future of live music 1.

The community, even if minuscule in some places, is beautifully resilient and knows a deep kind of love for one another and 2. The feeling of playing and watching live music will never get any worse. 

TC Superstar interview

HAPPY: Nostalgia seems to play a role in your sound, evoking a sense of familiarity while still sounding fresh. What are some of the nostalgic influences that find their way into your music?

TC SUPERSTAR: Many of my references for this project come from 1970’s dance music. It has always been one of the most fun, feelgood, over-the-top genres for me, often building catharsis from the contrast with a more heartbroken vocal.

I use a lot of sounds from the 1980’s as well, but that wasn’t a decade of music I explored a ton before the genesis of this project. People started telling me I sounded like Depeche Mode and I thought, “wow, I should really listen to these records so I know what they’re talking about.” 

More than anything I’m a sucker for good gear and its history. I love reading through TapeOp and learning about what preamp was used on which record; the music always tells the story of a human’s interaction with recording technology.

I spent five years working at a Guitar Center, so I’ve been fortunate enough to take home many pieces of gear similar to those that produced my favourite records. When you pull up a keyboard patch that’s over 30 years old, it’s always going to have an old feel to it.

TC Superstar interview

HAPPY: Your band’s connection with your fans is particularly strong. How do you maintain a genuine and personal relationship with your audience in today’s digital age?

TC SUPERSTAR: I think the best thing you can do is talk to them in person. I’ve had so many great conversations with our fans over the years, and now our shows feel a bit like a family reunion.

It’s not a path towards quick viral success, but our mantra has always been play shows play shows. For us, the live experience is really the full version of our art, the recorded music is just my contribution to the project, along with my musical collaborators.

I’m sure we’ve played close to 1,000 shows by now, if not more, and I think our relationship with our fans comes from the memories we’ve made together over the years. 

HAPPY: Lastly, what makes you happy?

TC SUPERSTAR: So many things in life bring me happiness, but nothing like seeing someone else really light up with joy.

There is nothing in the world like watching a wellspring of delight cascade over a person’s face; the uncontrollable dimpling, it gets me every time. My partner and I can also watch our cats for hours. That makes me happy.