Scott McDowell, Lizzy Schliesmann and Fil Cala of Wave Dweller.
Scott McDowell, Lizzy Schliessmann and Fil Cala are Wave Dweller (from left)

Lizzy Schliessmann and Fil Cala first crossed paths as students during a show at the Depot, a venue tucked into a corner of San Francisco State University. Lizzy was working there, booking shows and meeting bands, while Fil’s project — Future Shapes — was taking, uh, form as one of said bands. After independently orbiting the localized scene for a bit, Fil and Lizzy started tossing around ideas, and it wasn’t long before they threw their first show as Wave Dweller, with Never Young at the Elbo Room.

In the next several months Wave Dweller put on a handful more shows at the Rickshaw Stop, Bottom of the Hill, Brick and Mortar and the Chapel. Although at this point just Fil and Lizzy, Wave Dweller started to snowball a bit. Bands and musicians Wave Dweller knew and met started to congeal, constellate into something, groups like Spooky Mansion, Future Shapes, Bobey, Summer Peaks and Jay Som, Hot Flash Heat Wave, Kera and the Lesbians, Tino Drima, Jet Trash, O, Talk of Shamans, and Dot Vom.

“The community we’re working with is all supporting each other. And that’s what makes it so special, and makes me so excited about it. It’s not like they’re all competing,” Lizzy said. “It’s not like someone is angry if they don’t get a show. They’re just like, ‘well now I’m gonna go to this show to see my friends’. I think it is an important thing to note, that all of the bands we work with and would like to work with support each other.”

During our conversation, the word community came up a lot. It’s a vague word, but I think that’s why it’s so potentially fruitful when imagining a shared music space. Instead of coming in hot with a complete Wave Dweller aesthetic, the group seems more intent on gelling together what’s already out there, starting with the musicians they’ve grown close to along the way.

“I think such a thing happens because everyone generally likes each other’s music. Sometimes someone will end up joining another band, because they like what someone else writes,” Fil said. “I feel like the nice thing about our community is that everyone is down for each other’s music.”

About nine months after their first show, Wave Dweller is making their biggest transition yet: recording and releasing music as a record label. They brought Scott McDowell onto the team, a seasoned audio engineer, to help with this new phase. Scott has produced bands like Geographer, the Stone Foxes and the California Honeydrops. Wave Dweller will continue throwing shows, they’re just ready to foster local music in another way.

“It’s something that we always wanted to do, but I think we knew we needed cultural capital, a following,” Fil said. “Because we have this really cool community here, and I think if we became one big entity we would have a lot of clout throughout the Bay.”

Now just a few days from Wave Dweller’s first physical release, Spooky Mansion’s self titled EP, the label has four bands signed to the label, Future Shapes, Jay Som, Spooky Mansion, and Summer Peaks. Spooky Mansions are pairing the release with a January residency split between Amnesia and the Makeout Room, and Future Shapes will be releasing a new EP, Microchasm on Valentines Day.

Spooky Mansion residency dates:

1/8 – Amesia ( w/ Hot Flash Heat Wave, Tino Drima)
1/15 – Amnesia (w/ Talk of Shamans, Summer Peaks)
1/30 – Make Out Room (w/ O, Bear Call)