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Save the Music profiles: these local musicians are creating their own sounds

Wake Moody 3 - Jillian Clark.jpg
Wake Moody was one of the performers at the Save the Music event in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. Photo courtesy of Wake Moody.

Beginning last fall, the Downtown Chapel Hill Partnership works to bring good music and positive vibes to the community while supporting local musicians and businesses. 

This past October, the Partnership launched Save the Music, a street performance series that gives local artists a platform to perform outside of businesses on Franklin Street. 

The most recent Save the Music event on April 25 featured Pajama Day, Dan Kelo and 2013 graduate Wake Moody. Each of these performers shared their own unique musical sound with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Community.

Pajama Day

Pajama Day is an indie rock quartet made up of four friends who were brought together by their mutual love for music. Louis Van Houtven, lead singer and guitarist, and Ali Gotelli, bassist, began playing music together in middle school. 

The pair eventually invited drummer Milo Vaisey and lead guitarist and backup vocalist Luke Balagot into the group. 

Gotelli said each member has a different musical palette, and they introduce each other to different styles of music.

“I think we try to have that kind of back and forth musical relationship, like exchanging different ideas in a more abstract way,” Gotelli said.

Van Houtven enjoys listening to styles of music that the band doesn’t play in order to separate their band's sound from other music.

“Indie rock kind of becomes work, so I listen to way more rap than I used to, and singer-songwriter stuff,” Van Houtven said. 

As Pajama Day matures as a band, it hopes to continue to evolve and mature its music.

“I think definitely a certain level of self critique has to happen,” Gotelli said. “Like Louis said earlier, trying to think of it as a bit of a job, but not in the dull, boring, monotonous way, more like putting a lot of time and commitment into it and really taking it seriously.”

Pajama Day’s music is available on all streaming platforms.

Wake Moody

Wake Moody was surrounded by the classical R&B stylings of Earth Wind & Fire, Bill Withers and Al Green growing up. These artists were all staples in forming Moody’s musical personality. 

“In high school and college, I got into indie rock, and then I just ended up gradually going back to that comfort food, the kind of root of what I got into musically at the beginning, the R&B, the soul-classic stuff,” Moody said.

He studied media and journalism and music at UNC, but music is what stuck with him post-graduation.

“It has just been the one thing I'm best at at any point, and at this point it's the way I can make the most money, have the most fun, make the most meaningful connections and make the most meaningful memories,” Moody said.

As a musician, he has challenged himself to go beyond playing the piano and guitar, and he now finds joy in producing as well. As an artist, he continues to gravitate to anything that involves music.

“If I'm getting to be a musician, that's the victory I needed, so pretty much I'll say yes to anything that keeps me in the world of music,” he said.

Wake Moody’s music is available on all streaming platforms.

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Dan Kelo

As a musician with experience in multiple styles of music and multiple instruments, Dan Kelo finds himself meshing well in the band he plays with, called Harbors — and succeeding as a solo artist. Kelo has played various styles of music including folk, pop, indie rock and electronica. 

“I guess it's being able to express different parts of my musical self, he said. “I feel like I'm a slightly different person in each of these contexts, but down deep it's all the same.”

Kelo has three projects that he’s working on: a solo project, a project with Harbors and a fake band project under the pseudonym “Ever Glo”. His reasoning is to appeal to those who look for a younger face in music.

“I'm getting older, I want to be able to compete in a space with the indie rock stuff that's out there that's being put out by much younger people,” he said. “I think if they actually knew who I was behind this thing, it would generate less interest.”

In Kelo’s work with the Harbors, he shares his classic guitar styling with modern, eclectic songwriter and guitarist Michael Itzkin to create a cohesive sound. 

With Itzkin being the songwriter for Harbors, he has more time to focus on his own projects and spend time with his two children. His life experiences have helped him to define his own sound and discover the type of musician he wants to be.

“What is it that I'm trying to be at the core, is somebody who creates music that can touch people,” he said. "I'm not looking to blow people's minds with virtuosity, I'm looking to move them in some way.”

Kelo said his record with the Harbors is set to be released in less than a month.

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