Gemma Ray
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Gemma Ray

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Alternative Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"NME album review"

Blowing sugary femme-pop out of the water, Gemma Ray is untouchable/ 8/10 - NME

"MOJO review"

Wondrous...a true alternative to the wan psychedelic folk of today's lady-pop troupe. - MOJO (Bauer Media)

"Nme live review"

" a grittier Lorretta Lynn, she's from the wrong side of the tracks. Uncouthly ace" - NME

"Mother Jones Review"

Following an agreeable if inconsequential debut, the second album from British oddball Gemma Ray plunders the graveyard of retro pop styles to dazzling effect. The Wall of Sound production wraps her woozy multitracked voice in lush strings, twangy guitar, and booming percussion, lending the dark melodies a sense of vertigo. Whether evoking classic girl groups ("So Do I") or echoing James Bond's elegant sleaze ("100mph [in 2nd Gear]"), "Lights Out Zoltar!" mesmerises. - Mother Jones

"Zinc Magazine Album Review"

In fashion, everyone seems to enjoy touting what latest, greatest thing have become "the new black," but in the world of music, it's Gemma Ray who's bringing vintage to the forefront, defining modern noir with their debut U.S. album, "Lights Out Zoltar!" Somewhat akin to The Ravonettes, Ray brings in a pinch of Portishead and a whole lot of originality to this 1950's-inspired album. Reminiscent of Lindy Hopping at the Savoy, Ray quickly draws you into hr world of quirky and romantic darkness. While her voice wavers between solid, endearing croon and cheeky pop trill, her songs achieve an equally welcome diversity. "Something Shifted" features shadowy, shimmering "50s surf guitar adornments, while "Tough Love" brings a cheery and upbeat number to the mix. Even more impressive is "Dig Me A River," which definitively sets the bar for futuristic blues with sexy, soulful guitar hooks, distorted screeches and Ray's delicately impassioned vocals rounding out the track. As stated by Ray herself, each of these songs is like a "three minute tornado" rife with material broods in the corners of the human condition. - Angela Elia

"Daily Express Gemma Ray: Lights Out Zoltar! ****"

With fans including Jimmy Page and Nick Cave and an extraordinary way with genre that rolls surf, pop, country, blues and even sea shanty into glorious bundles of song, great things must surely await Gemma Ray. Listening to the orchestrations, ghostly choral voices and layered instrumentation of Lights Out Zoltar! the follow-up to her 2008 debut The Leader, one pictures a 10-piece band, But no, these lush, cinematic numbers are created at her home studio with producer Michael J. Sheehy. A Compelling piece of work. - Daily Express

"NPR Gemma Ray: Plaintively Sultry"

October 22, 2009 - British singer Gemma Ray specializes in playful but smoky rock balladry that brings to mind the work of Phil Spector, Dusty Springfield and even the slipperier likes of Tom Waits and PJ Harvey. Without sounding overwrought or arch on her new album — titled Light Out, Zoltar! — Ray finds a winning way to warmly blend a lot of disparate pop styles.

One of the disc's most dramatic tracks, the plaintively sultry "Snuck a Peek" finds Ray's husky vocals set to an agile string section, quivering guitar effects and crystalline vibraphone, in a prettily askew arrangement that ebbs and flows sensuously behind every vocal move. The words distill despair into a stylish package: "You open your eyes into nothing now / You open up those arms and no one'll come / No one'll come running to you," she purrs, as if wandering through a bleak yet beautiful nightmare.

"Snuck a Peek" closes with swirling strings as a last repetition of the chorus glides into staggered layers of overdubbed voices that coo, "I snuck a peek, I snuck a peek, I snuck a peek." As her words fade out, she seems to drift over the strings as they spiral down to the center of the earth.

"Spin Magazine"

Gemma Ray has a dramatic flair for jarring contrasts -- chanting the title of "Tough Love" in a shell-shocked deadpan as a toy piano plunks in the background or perfectly copping Beach Boys–style wooos in "Fist of a Flower." Had Phil Spector forced his girl groups in a more noir-soundtrack direction, this might've been the result. Ray has a truly impressive feel for vintage pop flourishes, layered to lavish effect. And all those details are what you're supposed to be paying attention to, right up until the blade hits your back. - Spin

"Paste Magazine Best of What's Next: Gemma Ray"

In late September, minutes before her second performance in New York City, British chanteuse Gemma Ray politely approaches a venue bartender. After brief exchange, he leaves and reappears, handing a shimmering 5-inch steak knife to the stunning brunette, who quickly disappears backstage.

This is a common ritual. “Everywhere I go, I need to borrow knives, because I can’t bring a drove of them,” Ray laments over a rum and coke. “I used to play my guitar with a metal pipe, finding different thicknesses and kinds of metals. I ended up with a better noise coming from the back of a big chopping knife. It’s more of an atmospheric thing than a vicious thing. Though, I narrowly missed my guitar player’s toe once after throwing it from excitement… It was his first show as well."

Ray’s American debut, Lights Out Zoltar!, is no less dramatic than its creator’s blade-welding tendencies. Her style has been termed “indie noir,” a cinematic blend of flamenco, rockabilly and vintage pop that would fit nicely on the scratched celluloid of forgotten exploitation films. Appropriately, Ray dresses the part a 60s femme fatale—hair plastered vertically into a modern beehive, figure draped in pastel sweaters and skirts, eyes ringed with obsidian mascara, she looks an awful lot like the music she plays.

For the 29-year-old Essex native, concocting a musical lexicon of obscure influences was an artistic process fueled by curiosity and boredom. “I’m always drawn to the way things sound and look for what they are, and they always seem to be from bygone eras. I prefer old-fashioned pickups on guitars because they just sound fat and warm. I like analogue recording. I like old clothes because they just have more style,” Ray says. “I don’t want to recreate things—I just want to mix up all my favorite things and see how it sounds. It’s an instinct.”

Her inspiration comes from odd classics—the Dolly Parton mix tapes her father used to play in the family truck, the warped audio manipulation of Sonic Youth and Pink Floyd, Polish composer Krzysztof T. Komeda’s soundtrack to Rosemary’s Baby. But Ray is bluntly appalled by the idea of being the poster child for any retro-cliché, especially with the recent commercial soul revival in her home country. “The people I know who make great music from that era with real soul and real instruments are still doing what they were doing a long time ago. The Duffys of the world just appeared and are being groomed,” she says. “I don’t think it’s a real resurgence—it’s just major label bullshit.”

Watching her perform, with her luminous voice and oversized cutlery, there’s no doubt that Ray is blazing her own silvertone trail. Even the title of her debut invokes resistance to the status quo—Zoltar is the name of so many machinated gypsies who impersonally foretell fates on tokens at arcades and amusement parks. "It’s an idea that I quite like—take control of your own future,” Ray says. “If you haven’t got any money, record an album in your friend’s lounge. Create your own fate.” - Paste Magazine

"Bust Magazine Feature"

When I meet 29-year-old singer/songwriter Gemma Ray during her recent visit to N.Y.C., it's clear she's running herself ragged. bouncing from late-night gigs to daytime appointments, she arrives to our interview with suitcases in tow and explains her plans to leave the Bust photo shoot, head over to Brooklyn to perform again, and then go straight to the airport for a flight back to her home in London. "I really don't want to go home tonight. I haven't done any sightseeing," Ray laments. "But I've been doing quite a lot of music." As for the frantic pace, she says, If I stopped, I wouldn't get up again." Born Gemma Smith, Ray recorded her new album, Lights Out Zoltar!, in the midst of a bout of chronic fatigue syndrome and blood poisoning that began in 2005. But despite her health challenges, she shows no sign slowing down. And luckily for the workaholic guitarist, she won't have to: critics are swooning over the album - a mixture of girl-group-style torch songs, arrangements that would sound at home in a 60's Italian film, and twangy, rockabilly guitars. Her aestheic may be retro, but the tough moody perspective she brings to vintage song structures feels fresh and ultramodern. - Bust Magazine


Gemma Ray "Down Baby Down" (Album April 2013)
Gemma Ray "Island Fire" (Album, Feb 2012)
Gemma Ray "Sings Sparks with Sparks" January 2012 single
Gemma Ray "Runaway" EP (Sep 2011 Bronzerat Records)
Gemma Ray "It's A Shame About Gemma Ray" May 2010 Bronzerat Records
Gemma Ray "100mph in 2nd Gear" (single November 2009- Bronzerat Records)
Gemma Ray "Lights Out Zoltar!" September 2009
Gemma Ray "Hard Shoulder" (single, June 2008, Bronzerat Records)
Gemma Ray "The Leader" - June 2008 (Bronzerat Records)
Gemma Ray Ritual "White Bait" 7" - April 2006
(Bronzerat Records)



Let us start by saying that Jimmy Page was was moved to go record to say that Gemma is "Not to be missed!".
UK-born Berlin-based musician/singer/producer Gemma Ray is a prolific and enigmatic performer who at the age of 32 has already made 5 solo albums.
Her last album proper in 2012 (Island Fire) hit the US college radio charts at number 19, and earned her a place on TV shows such as the UK's Top of the Pops.
This year she released a soundtrack album (Down Baby Down), and has finished another album out in January 2014.
She has collaborated with Sparks, members of the Bad Seeds, Suicide and Filmorchester Babelsberg and recently toured with Grinderman, Marianne Faithfull, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Kris Kristofferson, Ane Brun, Seasick Steve and more.
In 2010 she won an Independent Music Award for Best Album.

MOJO - "Ray is one inspired music machine" -

THE SUN – Wonderful..Gemma Ray weaves an entrancing tapestry of soul, blues and pop, full of dark themes and late-night confessions, all presented in a sultry, seductive voice.

MOJO – Disarming..swooning...with noir-ish hints of Lee Hazlewood’s unearthly country-rock. Gemma Ray sits midway between Nina Simone and Isobel Campbell and is the better for it.

NME – A brilliantly brooding prospect. Like a grittier Loretta Lynn, she’s from the wrong side of the tracks.

CLASH - Startlingly good.