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Introducing GEM and her new retro-future summer anthem, 'If I'm Honest'

23 October 2020 | 12:02 pm | Emma Jones

DJ and producer GEM is here to make your summer soundtrack even better with her glorious new single, 'If I'm Honest'.

DJ and producer GEM is here to make your summer soundtrack even better with her glorious new single, 'If I'm Honest'. Following in the footsteps of her debut, 'Malibu' back in August, 'If I'm Honest' is a warm, breezy and romantic release from an artist just getting started but already showing so much promise.

With nostalgic percussion, glowing guitars and a driving bass line, GEM creates an undeniable groove perfectly suited for her heavenly, pop-leaning vocals to float above. Injecting a sense of swooning romance and anticipation, 'If I'm Honest' is the ultimate soundtrack for a summer night adventure. Sounding like a combination of Miami HorrorOwl Eyes and Dua Lipa, 'If I'm Honest' is equal parts nostalgic as it is modern and future-facing, maintaining a strong pop sensibility while paying tribute to bygone eras from which GEM draws inspiration.

Spending her time between Australia and Los Angeles, GEM's latest single was mixed and mastered by GEM’s 'Malibu' team, Serge Courtois and Dale Becke, and carries the same impressive polish of her debut release. Having cut her teeth in the Central Coast studio, The Music Cellar, before making the move to Los Angeles, GEM now finds herself back in Sydney and ready to embark on an exciting path ahead. Here, we get to know her a bit better to dive into her new music, her story so far and what's still to come!

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Who are you?

She/Her. I am a chilled out music producer/ DJ. Can usually be found in the studio, probably snacking and occasionally wearing pyjamas. I grew up in country Australia on a cattle farm, those grass roots really shaped the ‘who’ part. I LOVE my vinyl records and Technics SL-1200. I was lucky, I have two brothers so was able to auction one of them off to buy my dream turntables. Hmm, what else? I have so much faith in young people, I love lemongrass tea, I cannot concentrate if there is music playing because I just hone right in, completely loose myself in it. I think talking on the phone is weird and handwritten letters are beautiful and I am always, ALWAYS down for an adventure. Any kind at all.

How did GEM come to be?

Music has been a big part of my world from the very beginning, I was always around it. Funnily, it was obvious to everyone else except me that it was my thing.  I wore other creative hats along the way and would always return to music as a safe haven, it always felt like home. Once I embraced this and quietend the doubts I went for it. Producing an album of 70s songs through the lens of modern electronica was my first step into myself. It was at that moment I let others see me and what I wanted to create. It’s been a beautiful and natural evolution from there. I think the biggest thing about getting started is - deciding to get started. To put yourself out there and jump in.

What are we talking, vibes-wise?

Chilled out, dreamy, spacious moods.  A little retro and a little electro.

Tell us more about your new single, ‘If I’m Honest’?

If I’m Honest is my second original single from my upcoming EP. I was very clear on the vibe I wanted to create. The story had to be romantic and open ended. I wanted it to show openness and vulnerability but still be a fun mood. The track was flowing and evolving and I had the lyric ‘Japanese denim with your hair slicked back’- I could really feel into that visual. Boy Soda came on as a co-writer and we finished the lyrics together. We were on a zoom video, he was singing melody lines and munching away on snacks- it was a good time.

‘If I’m Honest’ has a real summer feeling, but also tells the story of a twin flame connection and maintains a sense of spirituality. Why was this spirituality so important for you to keep within your music?

Thank you. I’m so glad you feel that summer connection. It’s really important to represent myself authentically with this original music and my spiritual practice is such a big part of my life so I wanted to infuse it into the music too. I subscribe to a thinking that music can be healing, and I want to bring that goodness into modern styles of music. Not just keep those wellness benefits reserved for the more meditative music styles. Frequency + Intention = Healing. This song is recorded in the key of B which is closely connected to the crown chakra - to link the story with a twin flame connection and then have the added element of the frequency helping you to a deeper realisation was just magical to me.

You’ve spent time working in LA as well as here in Australia. How do the two places differ in terms of making music for you personally?

I love both places. LA offers many collaborations and energy. It’s a place where I really grow professionally, I see kick ass women producers doing well and I am endlessly inspired and encouraged by that. Australia has been my quiet time, I’ve gone within and been quite deliberate and thoughtful about what kind of music I want to create. We’ve such a massive pool of talent here and gorgeous studios - we are really lucky.

How has COVID-19 impacted your creativity over the last few months?

I really owe all of my new original music to Covid. Being locked in my little studio room in Surry Hills with more time on my hands I have been able to fashion that into an EP. I started Covid with an attitude of OK, how can I really use this time well and productively. Admittedly, over the last month in particular I’ve been up and down. That initial burst of work ethic and energy started to drain and I began to deeply miss live music, collaborating in person- the whole thing. There is no substitute to being in the room with other creatives, being in the flow.

‘If I’m Honest’ follows up your previous single, ‘Malibu’. What else can we expect from you in the months ahead?

I have another song coming out at the end of November. I love regular releases close to the time of inception, it keeps the energy real and honest. Plus there is no time to overthink it. I am performing at the Power Woman Summit in Dec which I am super pumped to do.

Where can we hear more from you?

I have a new youtube channel, under GEM. It is home to high vibe music I’ve named Sonic Tonics and peaceful, tranquil videos to get us through this damn year.

'If I'm Honest' is out now. Buy/stream here.

Interview by Emma Jones

Image: Supplied