By Michael Davidson
Working in a city with new emerging artists and art forms, it can be difficult for fresh musicians to get noticed and build a fan base. In Waco, one advantage Baylor students have is the opportunity to be signed on to the student-run music business organization, Uproar Records.
Each year, the label holds two rounds of auditions, which brings new artists and re-sign bands from previous semesters. One such band, Dreamboat, is now entering its second year with the record company and hopes to use this opportunity to continue to build its fan base in Waco while honing a new sound they’ve been working hard to perfect.
“Last year’s experience was great, and we learned a lot about what it takes to make music not just a hobby, so that’s why we decided to try out for Uproar again,” Boerne senior Tessa Gaston said, singer and lyricist of the five-member band. “We don’t want to be confined to a certain genre, which I feel like we have been in the past. Our plan, and our biggest challenge, is to incorporate this new sound we’ve been trying: a sort of edgier, more full sound without losing our old style.”
Gaston and the rest of the band spent the summer living in Austin writing, playing shows and utilizing the opportunities the live music capital of the world has to offer for an emerging band.
“Austin has such an interesting music culture,” Gaston said. “Performing there, sort of forming a new crowd, and just being there in general definitely influenced the band, and now we have at least two shows there per month.”
When it was time for the new school year to start, however, only Gaston returned to Waco to finish up her senior year at Baylor. Balancing schoolwork. A social life is a common struggle for college students, not to mention being part of a band in which all the members are not able to live and work in the same place. While the 100-mile difference may be difficult, the band has also found it rewarding having to work and commute between the two towns.
“It’s challenging having the band split up across two cities,” said Ryan Higgs, one of Dreamboat’s two guitarists, a recent Baylor alumnus and former employee of Uproar Records. “But we get to have a presence in both Austin and Waco, which is awesome. It’s easy to make that drive almost every other day because I love these guys, and I love playing with them.”
Though working in Austin was, and still is, a great experience for Dreamboat, Gaston said first and foremost she wants to concentrate on Waco, continuing to build a local fan base here and working with them. Living here for three years now, Gaston has long been an active member of Waco’s culture, participating in the community and teaching theater at the Mission Waco Youth Center. She said these experiences undoubtedly influence, inspire and shape her as a person and as an artist.
“For a while, I thought of Waco and my time at Baylor as a stepping-stone to somewhere else,” Gaston said. “But I’ve realized, especially with art, that making a true home here is the best way to reach everyone else that lives here. Focusing on people, as opposed to just myself, makes it easier to have a better outcome with my art.”