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Gemma Ray: From Essex to Berlin, and the world over

For those familiar with British television show The Only Way Is Essex, you’ll understand that the accent can be annoying as heck, grating on the ears like nails on a chalkboard.

But don’t let TOWIE give the entire county a bad rep, because people like Gemma Ray come along with voices so sweet and magical, trepidations about accents are quickly forgotten.
 
Originally an Essex girl, Ray is fast making an international name for herself, as the singer/songwriter picks up her guitar and makes music that can only be described as haunting, gothic ambience, gripping audiences across the world with the ebony beauty of her psychedelic performances.
 
On the back of her sensational album The Exodus Suite, Aussie audiences will soon have a chance to witness dark magic personified. “It’s going to be really exciting,” says Ray. “The only thing to say that people should expect from the show is the unexpected.
 
“I’m there to enjoy the music – any accidents will be happy ones but it’ll be all me, totally raw and authentic and that’s how I like it.”
 
No stranger to our Australian community, Ray has had the privilege to work alongside several members of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. “It was such a surreal experience,” Ray says. “You hear about people like Nick when you’re starting out and then suddenly you’re playing with his band, learning from people who’ve done it [played music] a long time.
 
“Thomas [Wydler of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds] was a huge guide for me and I’m pretty lucky I was able to work with him.”
 
Indeed, it was Wydler who provided Ray with recommendations as to how she could record her latest album The Exodus Suite, combining the best there was on offer in production married with her absolute need to create an album of authenticity.
 
“Organic, if you must say that word,” says Ray. “But really, there needed to be an ebb and flow [with recording the album].” Recorded in the renowned Candy Bomber Studios in Berlin, Ray took on the ambitious feat of producing her album in only a week. “I had a bit of a fear of running out of time to record everything I wanted to get down, but the album came out better than I had hoped thanks to Ingo [producer Ingo Krauss].
 
“I was nervous – it had to happen that way but committing to doing it in such a short space of time was something I had to get the bottle for.”
 
Travelling and playing music the world over, Ray would have certainly seen some sights – but it’s been Berlin that has captured her attention, and the one place she feels she can call home. A fulltime dweller in the famous German city, Ray says she often draws inspiration from the culture and history of the city around her.
 
“I feel like Berlin is so central to everything – you can hop over to France or Italy in a day, I can perform there on an evening and still get home the same day if I really want to – I feel like Europe is such a great place for musicians to work out of.
 
“You do all this travelling and you see all these different people and places and one day, one just sticks with you. Berlin is great culturally, the people are fantastic, [and] I feel so at home here and find so much inspiration,” Ray says.
 
“This is definitely home, at least for now. Who knows where life will take me.”
 
By Anna Rose 

Gemma Ray will perform at Northcote Social Club on Thursday April 27, Friday Nights @ NGV on Friday April 28 and Caravan Music Club on Saturday April 29.