Maverick UK songstress Gemma Ray has interpreted 2 songs by the legendary Sparks, but in true Mael style the LA duo have in turn re-interpreted her interpretation and turned it back in on itself. “What?!” we hear you gasp! – Let’s back up…
Gemma Ray, who once fainted at one of Sparks’ London shows —“it was intense” — was contemplating injecting elements of her next album with some Sparks-esque pomp. But rather than imitate, she approached the masters themselves. Circumstances conspired against it however. Sparks were immersed in taking their incredible musical The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergmann to the stage, but an affinity was established and the three stayed in touch.
What eventually transpired was unplanned, and as unlikely as it is unprecedented. The Maels dared Gemma to attempt one of their songs – and they all eventually ended up choosing a curious two. “How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall” (from their album Lil’ Beethoven) and the innuendo-filled “Eaten By The Monster Of Love” (from Angst In My Pants). Gemma gladly accepted the challenge, updating the songs with her torch-singing noir style. Ron & Russell then took these new Ray-styled numbers, and re-built them Sparks-style!
As Gemma put it, “I have long been a huge admirer of Sparks’ non-conformity which allows them to take their uncompromising creativity to wherever it wants to go. But I really could not imagine what my thing combined with their thing would sound like, and that was a big part of the attraction. ”
And in the words of Sparks: “It takes a certain type of bravery to attack our songs. Gemma has both bravery and immense talent. We are moved by the results.”
The two songs will be released as a limited edition collectors 7” and download, with artwork by Rick Froberg (Obits/Hot Snakes/Drive Like Jehu). And in the coming months Gemma plays HMV Next Big Thing, SXSW, as well as European dates with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and CW Stonekin.
Gemma will be performing a series of U.S. shows leading into her performances at SXSW this year, including a showcase at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 on 2/29 at 9:00 p.m. See full tour dates below. Also check out Gemma’s video for "How Do I Get to Carnegie Hall" over at NME.com, where the video premiered.
Tracks Premiered at The Quietus. Read their piece on Gemma Ray and Sparks HERE.
Gemma Ray Tour US Dates
2/29: New York, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2 (9:00 p.m.)
3/5: Chapel Hill @ Local 506
3/6: Nashville, TN @ TBA
3/7: Atlanta, GA @ Star Bar
3/8: Savannah, GA @ Stopover Festival
3/9: Tuscaloosa, AL @ Green Bar
3/10: Baton Rouge, LA @ Chelsea’s
3/11: Houston, TX @ TBA