College students know that balancing school work and extracurricular activities is a challenging feat. But for Strange Oasis Entertainment, an artist development company recently founded by six University of Wisconsin students, it’s all in the name of music and doing something they love.
Strange Oasis focuses on helping local artists grow by hosting events and collaborating with other multimedia channels. They hope to help artists of all genres in any way possible.
“[We want to bring] professionalization and organization to the music scene to help it grow and thrive,” co-founder Bobby Vanderwist said.
Wisconsin Union Directorate music events were a popular hangout for the co-founders, and they met by sharing the same crowd. The idea behind Strange Oasis surfaced last spring, when the co-founders began brainstorming, Vanderwist said.
When starting the organization, the group realized each person had different interests in the music industry. Because they were able to pool their different resources, Strange Oasis was able to provide a variety of services for various artists, Vanderwist said.
“I think it’s interesting how when you hear of people starting a business together, they’ve known each other for 20 years, and know the same people and have all the same resources,” co-founder Hannah Frank said. “Each of us had different things to offer because we didn’t really know each other beforehand.”
The inspiration to get involved in the music industry was different for each of the group members. Co-founder Mary Kate Gavigan, for example, was a biology and speech therapy major before finding her passion for music organization.
“I think that secretly this is what I was meant to do, but I didn’t realize it until [Strange Oasis Entertainment],” Gavigan said. “I want to listen to music and organize it forever.”
Commitment was a big factor in narrowing down the company’s size from the original 12 to six. When asked how they balance school and the company, the immediate response from co-founder Brennan Haelig summed it up: “I don’t.”
Though he, along with the rest of the group, laughed at his statement, they all agreed. A good night’s sleep and time for other activities comes rarely.
“Brennan [Haelig] has graciously sacrificed his love life for Strange Oasis,” Vanderwist said.
Frank chimed in with a quote from Haelig saying, “‘I haven’t talked to another girl for months.’”
But Strange Oasis hasn’t had to do it alone. Instead, the co-founders have taken advantage of UW resources, such as applying for free legal advising through the law school, along with assistance in writing their legal contracts. With help from the university, and from out-of-pocket money, the group was able to get the ball rolling.
In terms of the future, the group unanimously said Strange Oasis is both the step to something bigger, and hopefully the something bigger.
The two main goals of the organization are to help local Madison bands expand and, eventually, attract artists from outside of Wisconsin to play shows on the isthmus, Vanderwist said.
Currently, Strange Oasis has been focused on other jobs and student responsibilities, but they are still finding time to throw basement shows and managing local artists, Vanderwist said.
Though perks of the job don’t necessarily have a monetary value, whatever Strange Oasis Entertainment does is worth the experience to the young founders.
“It’s really rewarding what we do, and the goal is to eventually grow this to something we do full time,” Vanderwist said.