Berlin-based, British-born Gemma Ray and her band will bring their unique torch song psychedelia to Australia this April in support of her latest album The Exodus Suite.Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles did a quick Q&A about the tour and Gemma’s album The Exodus Suite.

It must be exciting times ahead in 2017 for yourself, have you started setting some goals of what you want to achieve or do you take it as it comes?
I did plan to have a bit of a rest from touring this year, but somehow my calendar is getting quite full again. I tend to take things as they come, the best things in life seem to happen quite randomly I find…

Must be exciting with Exodus Suite doing well?  
It has been really nice to get it out there and have a positive response, but most of all I have really been enjoying playing it live with my band. It works really well because Andy and I recorded it live.

Will a good chunk of the year be spent touring and continuing to get the name out there?
I will be doing some concerts, but hope to spend more time writing my next record in Berlin and working on some other projects I’m involved in.

Do you enjoy touring?
Yes, I love touring, the way it forces you to be ‘in the moment’ – plus I always come home a better musician with sharper intuition. My touring is quite unpredictable and so I get to visit a lot of places I would never normally go to which throws a great perspective on life for me. I tend to come home liking human beings more than when I set off…

How was it touring with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion?
Great!

What did you learn from touring with him?
I am a big fan of the band and love how they improvise every night, it feels more like a jazz concert to me in way. I think they have influenced me quite a lot from the touring I’ve done with them in recent years – Judah’s guitar playing has definitely snuck in there somewhere.

How would you describe the sound of Gemma Ray to Australian music fans?
I’m not very good at describing my music but my drummer Andy Zammit coined the phrase ‘ Torch Song Pyschadelia ‘ which I’m pretty happy to roll with!

What is the most challenging part of writing/ recording an album?
They all have their own quirks but one discipline I really thrived on when making The Exodus Suite was recording it live, including vocals. I deliberately gave myself no options to go back and re-do things… but I really liked this level of intensity, it captured a moment in time rather than simply recording a polished and controlled version of a song.

Is it daunting thinking about what you might do on the next one?  
Not at all! It’s the opposite of daunting for me –  in fact I get more overwhelmed when too many ideas and songs start to build up and jostle around for space – which is the case right now as I have been on tour for the best part of the last 6 months.

Is there anything you wouldn’t do next time that you learnt from making Exodus Suite?
Every record is a different beast, with its own curiousities to satisfy and itches to scratch – but in general I feel even more certain about the way in which I like to do things, rather than experiencing anything that I’d wish to avoid in the future. I’m proud of it because of it’s inevitable human flaws, as I wanted it to have a direct connectivity that for me can be missing from everyday life sometimes.

What music lovers expect from the Gemma Ray show?
Fire, knives, blood, sweat, lots of drum-organing solo’s, no backing tracks, no back door, shitloads of reverb and the strong possibility of a natural disaster. (Strange happenings seem to follow us around on tour)….

Do you get much down time and what’s sorts of things do you like doing between shows?
I don’t get too much downtime, but I try to have some extra curricular adventures whenever I can…I’m planning to squeeze in Pompei and Mount Vesuvius before my show in Avellino, Italy this coming Saturday.

What is the most exciting part of the journey ahead?
Not knowing what will happen.

Interview by Rob Lyon

Photo credit: Alessandra Leimer

GEMMA RAY – APRIL 2017 Tour Dates

Fri 21 April Four 5 Nine, Perth WA
Sat 22 April The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide SA
Mon 24  April Newtown Leadbelly, Sydney NSW
Thu 27 April Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC
Sat 29 April Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh VIC

For more information about the tour visit http://gemmaray.tv/ and checkout the Spotify play list…