Varsity formed in 2013 when several Chicago musicians gathered for a “salon night” party where friends shared stories and songs. Singer-keyboardist Stephanie Smith liked the sound of guitarists Dylan Weschler and Pat Stanton, and invited them to perform with her. The trio soon became a quintet, later adding Jake Stolz on drums and his brother, Paul Stolz, on bass. The band began playing shows around Chicago and, in April 2014, self-released their first EP, “Thanks for Nothing,” after recording it one weekend in the basement of Smith’s parents’ home.
Since then, Varsity has found success with its indie-pop sound featuring the powerful driving vocals of singer/keyboardist Stephanie Smith with infectious guitar melodies and exciting rhythm. Besides sharing bills with performers like American Wrestlers, Alvvays, Courtney Barnett, The Hold Steady and Car Seat Headrest, Varsity has produced a number of digital releases—often two complementary songs at a time in what they call digital 7”s—that have earned rave reviews and a growing audience with millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify. With their 2018 release Parallel Person on Babe City Records, Varsity brings their music to new depths that express themes of the uphill battle of isolation, popularity and artistic frustration that frequently occur in their Chicago lives. Varsity’s year in the studio results in Parallel Person being an instantly catchy, cathartic and infectious indie-pop record that brings new depth to the genre and the band’s writing.
Photo Credit: Kristina Pedersen