Currently based in Sydney, GEM has been using her time away from live crowds to hone her craft. Most recently, she dropped the shimmery, retro-styled electro-pop cut ‘If I’m Honest’, last week.
Following up previous single ‘Malibu’, which arrived earlier this year, ‘If I’m Honest’ is an ethereal bop that’s tethered by its glistening synths, hypnotic rhythms and breezy but soaring vocals. GEM says the song is designed for “surrendering your heart’s questions to your higher self”, adding that it was written in the key of B – the one most closely known for activating one’s crown chakra.
Today, we’re premiering the accompanying video for ‘If I’m Honest’, designed and edited by Hussam Eissa. As with the vivid, dreamlike ‘Malibu’, the DJ/producer’s latest single is intertwined with its abstract visuals, with both elements responding to one another.
Depicting the “twin flame connection” narrative sung about throughout ‘If I’m Honest’, there’s a sun-drenched ambience to the surreal, computer-generated imagery that suits the song perfectly.
In addition, GEM spoke to us about her new single, her evolution as a producer, wellness and quarantine DJ sets. Watch the video for ‘If I’m Honest’ and read our chat below.
Music Feeds: You came into DJing and production having already been involved in the creative field since childhood. How did you get started in music – and electronic dance music especially? What made you decide this is your passion?
GEM: I was always around music as a child, this is true. My dad is a country music guitarist and was touring a lot during that time, so the lens of music I was exposed to a lot was bluegrass, country, organic roots. I really had to go on my own adventure of music exploration before I found the style that most connected with me. I remember hearing Cafe Del Mar blissed out beats and thought – “Oh wow, you can create this sense of easy going Summer holidays anytime of year!” Ha, I loved it. It really hit me about finding a mood you want to live in, something that feels good and starting from there. Purple Sneakers underground parties in Sydney, watching Sneaky Sound System in the Cross, heading to festivals wide-eyed watching these DJs create a world for us to step into was a huge inspiration . I had a set of Pioneer decks years and years before I performed anywhere. It was something I did for myself, for fun. I just loved it – it was so pure and honest.
MF: How have your sensibilities changed as a DJ/producer over time – and how do you feel your style is evolving?
GEM: When I first started I was always looking for that big drop, that super electronic moment. I was always so focused on the build, pushing the energy up, up, up, up. Now, I am really focused on creating a whole vibe, nothing that is too in your face. I much prefer a chilled journey that ebbs and flows, one that opens up more naturally and doesn’t feel forced. I love taking people on a discovery. I am now way more into the day time, pool side, chillwave mixed with some nu disco style. It’s developed into designing and playing a set I really love and am deeply connected with.
MF: What can you tell us about your new single, ‘If I’m Honest’?
GEM: ‘If I’m Honest’ is my second original single, so because it’s all very new it was important to me that I come out with a sonic that becomes my own GEM sound. So people know roughly what to expect. I am super vibed on retro-electro pop, I love to do a mix of electro and real instrumentation for humanness. ‘If I’m Honest’ was written about a twin flame connection and was recorded in the key of B, known for being most closely aligned with the crown chakra. All of my original music has a spiritual thread throughout. I like the songs to have hidden benefits and be felt in different parts of the body. This one is about surrendering control, opening up, asking the questions that are in your heart. I want to merge ambient music qualities into modern styles of music, that’s my real goal. Infusing those new age properties into a track that doesn’t put you to sleep.
MF: Your work has a distinctive visual aspect, too. What can you tell us about how you create an aesthetic around your music?
GEM: Thank you, I love that you’ve noticed this. For me, visuals are such a big part of how I create music. I have Synaesthesia so textures, colours, sounds all become one in my mind. I really feel into the colour of what I am creating. The visuals are super important I want to keep adding to this story that we started with ‘Malibu’ and build from there. I want it to feel adventuresome, peaceful, exciting and relaxing all at the same time. I am very excited to be premiering the video with you guys here today.
MF: Are there any artists, past or present, who especially inspire you? Whose music do you always check out as a DJ? And who do you enjoy listening to in downtime?
GEM: How long do you have? From Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell right through to Poolside, Shallou, Petit Biscuit, WET.
MF: You released an intriguing covers album, The2070s, last year. What can you tell us about that?
GEM: That was my first step out into the role publicly, where I was the producer but also visible. It was a way of reconciling the music of my childhood from my parents, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles with the music I really love to make. To reimagine those tracks through an electro lens was very intriguing and actually pretty difficult when you’re working with such well known and loved songs.
MF: Word is you are now working on an EP. What can you say about that?
GEM: I am! It is all in this same style, a few extra tracks to finish off the sound of this year. A large part of me wants to just release it all right now- there is something about getting music out quickly. I’m striving to do that more, so it is released in the same energy time as when you created it. You an expect another song end end of November, early December.
MF: You are also actively engaged in the wellness sphere – which is unique for a DJ/musician! What is your interest in this area and what can you tell us about your work in that?
GEM: I just want to bring all of me into what I am creating and that’s a big part of my life, so to stand up and be authentic in my music it needs to be in there. I work from a simple equation that intention + frequency = healing, so even if the audience is just liking the song because they like it – unaware of the added elements thats cool by me. I just want to leave people a little better than when I found them. I feel it’s part of why I am here.
MF: You have been living in Los Angeles for a while (not sure how long) and have even played cool Hollywood events there. But I believe you are currently in Sydney. Do you hope to go back to LA? How do you enjoy life there?
GEM: I have been in Sydney since February. I came back for my mum’s wedding and to perform at the Formula 1 in Melbourne. I was actually there in the hotel room at the QT, prepping my set when Covid begun snd the cancellations started rolling in. It was all pretty surreal. It’s the longest amount of time I’ve spent in Australia consecutively in years. It’s been wonderful to have time with my family- that is very special to me. LA is a hard city, I’ve been fortunate and have found my way, getting some opportunities I am very grateful for, However, I get super homesick. There is a song about this on my EP actually, there’s a lyric that perfectly sums it up “Los Angeles, almost like home to me’. I think I will always feel like that, it’s almost home. Not quite. That place in my heart is reserved for Australia. You know what they say.. you can take the girl out of the country but you cannot take the country out of the girl.
MF: Some DJs have been playing quarantine sets lately – but venues are also reopening slowly. Do you have any events coming up we should know about?
GEM: I am pumped to be doing a full moon set for Soul and Spirit Magazine out of the UK- a quarantine set on Oct 31 and I’m also booked to perform at the Power Womens Summit Los Angeles at the end of this year.