Shannon Taylor grew up in Mesquite until she was 15, but for the past 11 years, she’s lived on the East and West Coasts. Now she’s coming back to North Texas with her band, awakebutstillinbed, en route to SXSW. It will be their first time playing Dallas and Denton.
Taylor’s band is a much-buzzed about act, often compared to emo legends Rainer Maria, Braid and Cap’n Jazz, and has already appeared in Stereogum and Pitchfork. For those puzzled by what is played at emo DJ nights these days (Miley Cyrus?), awakebutstillinbed’s music has the traits of classic emo, where there’s a strong expression of power, melancholy and anger.
The band’s debut, originally released digitally on Bandcamp, will be reissued on vinyl, CD and cassette by respected label Tiny Engines early this summer. Named after a friend’s Facebook post, the stylized album title of what people call low self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you might make people roll their eyes, but the nine tracks make a big statement. It’s music that isn’t afraid to be raw and unrelenting at times along with being delicate and soft at others.
Taylor got into emo when she was a teenager, being a big fan of At the Drive-In, Cap'n Jazz and American Football, thanks to friends in the know and YouTube recommendations. She wrote songs over the years and played in bands, but she never played in a show while she lived in Mesquite. Her parents wouldn’t even let her go to shows by herself.
“Growing up in Mesquite, it felt like there weren’t a lot of places to play,” Taylor says the day before the band leaves for tour. “I didn’t really know about them. When I was in high school, friends of mine would play at The Door. They’d sell tickets in the hallways of my high school.”
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She would shop at various record stores with her mother and older brother, but she mainly remembers Good Records.
“The cool thing about growing up in Mesquite was that I was close to Dallas, so I think I had it better than other kids who lived in smaller towns,” she says. “There were a lot of things about my childhood that were hard, but it was more about my family than where I grew up.”
She moved to York, Pennsylvania, best known for the York Peppermint Pattie and the band Live, and finished high school. Moving to San Jose after graduating to collaborate with a musician she met online, she formed awakebutstillinbed.
For this jaunt through the U.S., it will feature only half of the band that plays on their first LP. Taylor and drummer Elijah Stoll will be joined by guitarist Jacob Gill and bassist Allison Elfving.
“There’s not really a set lineup,” Taylor says. “It’s not like they’re fill-ins. This is that incarnation of the lineup. We don’t have a set lineup anymore. The band taking off the way it has really shaken things up. A lot of things have happened and we’ve had to adjust the lineup accordingly.”
As the band has gained favor with old and new fans of emo, the accolades about awakebutstillinbed have spread quickly.
“I kinda can’t believe it,” Taylor says. “I think it’s amazing. I’m really, really blown away by how much people talk about it and connect with it.”
These songs have been in Taylor’s life for the past five years, and they are personal to her and have stood the test of time.
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“To me, it doesn’t feel like my first record,” she says. “I feel like I’ve been at it a long time.”
Since moving away, Taylor has been back to Dallas only once. Her mother still lives here, so she hopes to see family come on out to the shows in Dallas and Denton.
“Personally, I’m super excited to play where I grew up,” she says. “It’s gonna be significant to me, coming back home and playing a show in a place I haven’t lived in over 10 years.”
awakebutstillinbed plays Armoury DE on Monday, March 12, and Killer’s Tacos on Wednesday, March 14.