Gemma has been chasing honesty since she started out. She’s a multi instrumentalist and a talented producer with unique, soulful, R&B vocals and an eye for the visuals – more important than ever in our Instagram-standard society. I expect she inherited the last trait from her mother, a hardworking designer and seamstress. She’s been steadily putting out music for the last 10 years, collaborating with a healthy list of artists and producers including Orlando and CLU – listen to 2013’s ‘Moonrunner’, a personal favourite. As a friend and fan I know Gemma’s working 40 hours a week on her output, but we haven’t got that big Gemma Dunleavy release yet. I ask her why she’s holding back, what she’s waiting for.
“I’m waiting for honesty. I’m trying to pull what’s inside me out rather than working from the outside in. I battle so much with making music. Some weeks I’m like, ‘This is deadly’, other weeks I fucking hate myself. It’s because I work with myself. I need to be at peace with myself when I’m working.”
She applies that same regimented routine adopted from a childhood dancing career to her music creation.
“Sometimes a week goes by and I’m having such a good week I realise I haven’t seen anyone,” she tells me, but this process is something she’s trying to improve on through meditation, working out and routine.
“Imagine working 24/7 with a complete shit head. Someone who you fucking hate. You can always take a break from them, but when that’s yourself you can’t get away.
“There are lots of things I do to make working with myself a lot easier,” Gemma continues. “Every morning for a half an hour I put Logic on and I create. Complete creative freedom. It’s not for release. I save it into a hard drive and I don’t look at it. Sometimes I’ll look back at sessions from a few months ago and a lot of times I’ll make stuff based on that.
“Success is being able to make a living from honest music… Happiness. Being able to live in the moment, be present. I’ve realised that a lot in the last few years. I used to think, ‘I want to gig, I want to be touring, I want to collaborate with that person’, but every time I get closer, I realise that’s not what success is for me.”
Gemma’s catalogue of collaborations are serving a purpose, however. She tells me that working with someone else allows her to be “a bit more playful”. It’s a relief to hear she indulges that side of herself.