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Davis, California

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Couch Concert: VirgoGabrielle

Young local musician tells a personal story with her music

First-year community and regional development major Gabrielle Reid, also known as VirgoGabrielle, writes her music on an bright blue electric guitar. The scene is striking: a sky blue instrument to complement her bright pink bodycon dress.

“[The guitar] is my baby,” Reid said. “A good friend of mine works at a music store back home. One day after work I saw this guitar on display — she was one of a kind and on sale. I was working really hard at that point in my life, and I told myself I was going to buy this guitar, it’s very beautiful and I deserve it. I play her everyday, and I have written the most true songs on her.”

Her current image — cool, bright and mature — would not suggest that her music writing roots are in rock ‘n’ roll. In high school in San Ramon, Calif. she formed a four-woman, all-female rock group called Novicain Road. She served as lead vocalist.  

“I was really into rock ‘n’ roll,” Reid said. “There was a good rock ‘n’ roll scene where I grew up, so I started an all female rock ‘n’ roll band. That continued all throughout high school. We would play shows all around the Bay Area, we had a few songs recorded. That’s when I started doing music and realized that it is something I thoroughly enjoy […] The writing process is the most different from what I’m doing now because there’s three other people to write with and create the song with. It’s something so different than what an individual would do.”

Now, Reid has taken a musical 180 as she has transitioned into being a solo rhythm and blues artist since the start of her college experience at UC Davis.

“As much as there is going to be a place in my heart for Novicain Road, the sound just wasn’t inspiring me anymore,” Reid said. “It wasn’t truly what I as a person connect to most. The switch to more R&B and jazz was more natural coming [to UC Davis], being older and more in tune with myself.”

Her music, indeed, is much more personal and listens like a journal entry. She sings of romantic situations, longing and confidence to the tune of simple, smooth guitar chords.

“Common themes in my songs now are insecurities, things that hurt the soul in one way or another,” Reid said. “Music is therapy in a way for me, too, so what goes into those songs are more real or a little darker. Now, the inspiration [for my music] is not something I seek out; it just comes to me. When I get in these mindsets, I’ll just sit in my room and write everything down. I’ll start recording a voice memo and free styling. I’ll go back and edit it, see what I like and see what lines I like out of that stream of consciousness. Or I’ll sit down with my guitar and freestyle with my guitar and see what I like.”

To Reid, “R&B is very comforting,” and the relaxed nature of the music makes relaying stronger sentiments approachable to the listener. Due to the form of her music, Reid connects with her audience in a much more personal way.

“I want listeners to understand how these things happen to a lot of people, and they are not uncommon,” Reid said. “When we don’t talk about things, we think we are the only ones experiencing them and there is something wrong with us because of that. I want people to listen to my music and see that no matter who you are these things happen and it’s not necessarily a reflection of who you are as a person. In a way, I am speaking to myself and that sometimes is relatable to the audience.”

Her most recent song, “Losing Sleep, Lucid Dreams,” is her first song to be released online and follows the same musical purpose.

“That song has a lot to do with feeling used and kind of this mindset that a lot of people have that you need be icy and cold and have a guard up all the time,” Reid said. “But that’s not really who I am as a person. So the song has to do with me showing that side to people and them not understanding it or taking it well.”

“Losing Sleep, Lucid Dreams” will be on Reid’s first EP that she plans to release this summer.

“It’s probably going to be four or five songs,” Reid said. “I have most of the songs written, [and they have a] similar vibe for sure. The first song ‘Broken Bones’ is a strange mixture of ancestral pain with insecurities and relationship problems. It mixes the past and present. ‘Girls Like Me’ is a song dedicated to every girl or woman. It talks about insecurities being a woman.”

Reid’s music touches on rather intense topics. And while Reid did not offer specifics about the anecdotes that inspire her music, the mystery is part of her attraction. Perhaps the personal narrative is not as significant as the feeling it creates in response — the shared feeling to which we all relate.

Written by: Caroline Rutten — arts@theaggie.org