“Wedding Ring” carries you through the feelings of attraction, embarrassment, and an epiphany tinged with regret. Ryan Gross, frontman of Brooklyn based project, Skinny Dippers, sunbathes in nostalgia as he reflects upon fond memories of a summer affair. Recollections of this encounter are shadowed by a subtle detail and startling realization. I won’t give it away, but you can reasonably guess what transpired. With tongue in cheek lyricism, as well as vivid allusions to coastal escapes and lakeside evenings, Gross surrenders to summertime sadness and recounts his story with gripping sincerity.
As we’re waking lying naked in our summer skin
Can’t say I love you, so I’m looking for a synonym
You said you’d probably say it by mistake, it made me grin
This line made me grin, breaking the somber trance the rhythmic guitar imparted on me, as it continues to emulate the rippling motion of the sea that Gross refers to. His use of rhyme is clever, as the cascading phrase “awaking, lying naked,” scratches at your brain. He doesn’t shy away from revealing specificity, and I think this is the trademark of mesmerizing writing. Each line details an image from Gross’ memory, and the song is strung together as a mosaic of small yet significant moments. The intimate quality of his storytelling envelops you in the song’s sweetness, despite it being a tale of unrequited love.
“Wedding Ring” is a melancholic daydream, and I’m excited to dive into future memoirs and lucid imagery from Skinny Dippers.
Your Spotify profile says that your mantra, summed up in three words, is “guitars & french fries.” If you had to imagine a slightly longer mantra, let’s say seven words in total, what would it be?
“Indie Noise for sadbois who drink Lacroix.”
When did you realize that this story would translate well into a song?
…In the morning as the sun poured in,
we’re awaking lying naked in our summer skin.
Do you need time to process an intense feeling, such as heartbreak, before channeling it through songwriting – or are your songs born in the heat of the moment?
My songs are often born out of a stream of consciousness type state where I’m messing around with some chords, and the words and melodies seem to find their way out. Sometimes I write a song before even realizing how I’m feeling, so it’s almost like therapy in that it allows me to explore what’s floating around on the tip of my subconscious when I’m really dialed in.
Inspiration for a song can be very fleeting, so I want to try to make myself capture the magic when I first latch-on to that spark of something, otherwise I tend to put too much pressure on myself to make something perfect and end up hating it. I need to write when I’m in the heat of the moment so that what I’m singing about seems important. Maybe there’s some truth to the saying that “time heals all wounds,” so you have got to write while you’re still slashed open.
I assumed that “Wedding Ring” would be a love song when I first glanced at the cover and title. There is an element of surprise and a twist in the story that you’re telling. Do you think about the listener’s first time experience with the song when you’re composing the lyrics?
One could argue that I’m a selfish writer because I’m just writing songs for myself. I’m not really creating with the idea of making something that will resonate with other people. I just find that the songs that are most important and meaningful for me also seem to be the ones other people can relate to because they’re genuine and people tap into that.
That being said, I realized when writing the chorus that the “I thought of everything except your wedding ring” line could be taken multiple ways. I thought it could be kind of clever if people interpreted that lyric as me being unwilling to commit, but then later the twist in the last verse would be that I was talking about a literal wedding ring that I noticed on my new partners hand.
The first time I played this song out at an open mic there was an audible gasp from the crowd and someone shouted “OH, SHE WAS MARRIED!?!?”, so I knew the twist worked!
What do you hope listeners take away from the song?
I want my songs to be able to transport those who hear them. If it makes listeners think of their own personal experience, if it makes them think of a book or a movie, or even if they appreciate the narrative of the story then I’ll be pleased it helped them float away from wherever they heard the song ,even if only momentarily.