Interview with Gem Andrews, July 2012
Gem Andrews releases her debut album ‘Scatter’ on 2nd August. Eight years in the making, it reflects on her life since moving to the North East in 2003. I caught up with the Liverpool born singer to chat about the music that has influenced her song writing, her time in America’s Deep South and her plans to tour the UK and Europe.
Gem originally moved to the North East to study music and in particular the Saxophone, at Newcastle University. Since then she explained, “I have opened and closed a business, moved to a caravan in County Durham, broke my back, recovered, moved to Vancouver, and finally, last March, returned to Newcastle.” On Scatter “each song is a piece of that puzzle in some way, it reflects the emotional intensity of those years.”
The Americana and alt country style of her music is something she developed early on in her life. After receiving her first guitar as a six year old, she also recalled the day her Mum brought home Wrecking Ball by Emmylou Harris which “had an effect on me which I can only describe as seismic!” Since then she has studiously followed the country genre and discovering artists such as Neil Young, Steve Earle, Kate and Anna McGarrigle and Nanci Griffith along the way. “There’s something that feels authentic about Country music to me, which I find incredibly satisfying.”
Unlike most students, who choose to recklessly spend their loans within months of arriving on campus, Gem’s growing fascination with the origins of Americana led her to save hers up and travel to the Deep South after her first year at University. She spent three months visiting Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans and Austin watching professional singer-songwriters in the local bars. She described this experience as “astounding” and it helped “finely hone” her own song writing style. In 2011 Gem fulfilled a lifelong ambition when she booked a solo tour down the West Coast of the USA.
Now fully ensconced in the North East, Gem will launch her album at Cluny 2 on August 2nd with support from Beccy Owen. Gem noted that “every time I resurface to play a local gig, I’m always amazed at the amount of brilliant new musicians on the scene. I love the North East, it’s an exciting time to be here.” Post-launch, she will tour the UK at the end of September and then on to Switzerland in November and hopefully get a slot at Austin’s famous SXSW festival next year.
Before then you can catch Gem at The Star and Shadow Cinema (13th July) or The SummerTyne Americana Festival at The Sage on 21st July. Scatter can be ordered online at http://www.gemandrews.co.uk/.