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Gemma Ray

A stroll in the National Gallery reveals Gemma Ray as a sharp dresser and a sharper thinker with minor OCD tendencies (“If I don’t look at that painting once more, I’m disrespecting the painter”). Gemma Ray recalls her childhood fascination with dinosaurs and making robots out of magnets. “But then songs become a vehicle for your obsessions.” Alienated in Essex, she found allies who turned demountables from haulage vehicles into a rehearsal space, wired up to a car mechanics workshop for power. “We practically lived in those rooms” she recalls. “That’s where I discovered music, drugs (laughs), and learned how to play guitar backwards. It was all quite Sonic Youth and experimental. “She has a rocking P.J. Harvey band phase as Gemma Ray Ritual, selling handmade CD’s at gigs before admitting she was solo by nature and ‘vintage’ was her true voice. “I love the restraint of ’50′s music. Even when it broke into Rock n Roll. It’s still concise pop songs.” she declares. “Different eras appeal to me, but when it gets to 1975 nothing much appeals to me in terms of style and sound.

On wondrous  2009 album “Lights Out Zoltar!” Ray shows restraint by “squeezing all my ideas into a three minute pop song. Being honest a 10 minute indulgent wig out is my default position.” The ideas include 50′s pop, country, blues, 60′s girl-group dramarama and latin/lounge exotica, all with a steely modern resolve making Essex raised Ray a true alternative to the wan psych-folk of today’s lady-pop troupe.

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