New Audio: Sleepy Gary’s Slickly Produced, Tame Impala-like Ode to Unrequited Love

Daniel Feldman is a Rockville, MD-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, musician, who has had a lengthy and varied music career: He’s best known for a seven-year stint as the frontman of Baltimore-based indie rock outfit Yo No Say. He’s currently one-half of synth pop duo Airplane Man with lifelong friend and creative partner, Tim Sommers.

Since its formation, Airplane Man has released a handful of singles that have earned over a million streams each — all while receiving praise from Billboard and landing on Spotify playlists like New Music Friday.

Feldman’s solo recording project Sleepy Gary derives its name from two different sources: “I first heard the name Sleepy Gary in the context of a TV show called Rick and Morty,” Feldman explains. “In the episode, a suburban family becomes infested with brain parasites that present themselves as old friends via fond yet false memories. One of those parasitic cerebral manifestations is a nonexistent family friend named Sleepy Gary who wears a classic sleeping cap and pajamas and never opens his eyes more than halfway. 

“The character resonated with me because I myself am simply a mental parasite made of false memories.. ehem.. I mean, because I have always felt sleepiness was part of my identity” Feldman continues. “As a teenager I would start my pre-high school shower and end up napping on the bathroom floor, only to awake to an Amazonian climate and the sound of my mom pounding on the door, yelling that I was about to miss the bus again.

“In college I slept through nearly every one of my 8am literature classes. The sleepiness grew and grew until it became a monster that kept me up all night and ruined every morning. Something about that character in Rick and Morty nudged me subconsciously to own it. I am sleepy and that’s ok. I used to lay awake at night before playing shows with my old band. I figure, now with a name like Sleepy Gary if I don’t sleep.. I’ll just be that much more in character. Maybe it’s a way to lean into my anxiety around sleep. I also have to admit there’s just something to the way it sounds. It reminds me of a character you might meet in a gangster movie by Martin Scorcese or something.”

Feldman’s Sleepy Gary debut 21 Love Songs is a three-volume collection that took over seven years to complete and was written in three different cities —DC, Baltimore and New York. The album was completed last year while Feldman was quarantined in a 600 square foot Bushwick apartment with roommate and producer, Gabriel Stanley. Stanley co-produced the album. Grammy-nominated Dave Weingarten mixed the album. Grammy Award-winning Alex DeTurk.

The album sees Feldman quickly establishing a sound and songwriting approach that meshes elements of bedroom pop and psych pop. Thematically, the album is an ode to the many iterations of love we experience throughout our lives: unrequited, sensual, half-hearted, budding, obsessive and long-lost but while occasionally expanding upon what a love song actually is and focuses on.

In keeping with the album’s title, Feldman will release a song off the album every 21 days over the course of a year. The album’s latest single, the Tame Impala-like “W.D.I.L.Y.” Centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, reverb drenched guitar, glistening synth arpeggios, an enormous hook “W.D.I.L.Y.” sees Feldman pairing arena rock and club rocking bombast with intimate and achingly vulnerable lyricism: The song’s narrator longs for the old-school love song sort of love. But he finds himself alone, after yet another unrequited love. And yet it’s not completely hopeless; it’s the sort of song in which you see yourself in — and recognize that it’s a profoundly universal experience.