With one sung note, Carrboro musician Gabriel Reynolds enters a new era as his band, Wake Moody, premieres their debut single, “Shivers.” That note- a sustained, Michael McDonald-esque exclamation- could be a cry of pleasure or a cry of despair.
In “Shivers,” Reynolds tells the story of a hookup with a friend who could’ve been much more, if the timing had been right.
That heartache could easily make for a maudlin track- but Wake Moody goes in the opposite direction. From beginning to end, “Shivers” feels like a visceral dive into indulgence.
Grooving to Heartbreak
“Shivers” is fun, seductive, with an appealing groove that propels the listener into temptation. The sleek production and dreamy synths all but banish the consequences of the encounter ‘til tomorrow. Reynolds really leans into his vocal performance: he slurs into that insistent rhythm, he husks, he hits a few really great belted notes. Musically, “Shivers” is all good vibes, great for dancing with a date.
But don’t be engulfed entirely by the fun- regret looms large over the lyrics.
Singing as one half of this one-night stand, Reynolds is beguiled by his failed love interest, impassioned; he’s also all too aware of the pain that lies ahead.
“Now we’re writhing at the bottom of the ocean/and when you say my name it isn’t in devotion,” croons Reynolds. The wordplay is satisfying- but it packs a poignant punch.
“Shivers” makes for a memorable calling card for Wake Moody. It also provides an exciting taste of the debut EP of the same title, due out in March.
Check out the premiere of Wake Moody’s debut single, “Shivers.”
Q&A: Gabriel Reynolds on “Shivers”
TTG: “Shivers” is about the excitement and heartbreak of a one-night stand with an unrequited love. How did you approach making the story come to life, lyrically and sonically?
GR: Sometimes I have to trick myself into expressing emotions. My guide in writing this song was a vivid mental picture of these two characters with a specific, messy history, and my role was just to observe them: let their story unfold and document their sexy mistakes.
It was easy to talk about these people from a distance. Then when I finished, that mental image came into greater focus and I realized – surprise – it was me.
I’d been projecting a real-life event I’d never worked through emotionally, and that fake distance I created finally allowed me to process the heartbreak, regret and disappointment from that time in my life. It was like a vivid dream, where you don’t realize the symbolism ‘til you wake up. I needed it.
I also wanted it to feel like part of a larger story, so the song starts with the word “and” then ends before you learn the consequences – to be continued. Then the next song on the EP continues the story, so that mystery lasts all of five seconds. But it’s cool to me. I like art that zooms in on a bigger picture.
As for the music, I’ve been an all-caps SAD BOY on stage before and didn’t like spreading that vibe, so the sound here is much sweeter than the story.
I definitely take notes from Frank Ocean, who knows how to make the surface feel at peace while there’s a darker story right underneath. He can write a song about a depressed rich kid throwing himself off a rooftop, and people play beer pong to it. Amazing.
TTG: If you had to characterize your writing process in three words, what would they be?
GR: Feeling beats thinking.