Gemma Ray is a maverick UK songwriter who will release her new album ‘Island Fire’ on 16th April, via independent label Bronze Rat. Ahead of the album is today’s announcement of a special tie-up – and limited edition single – with legendary pop band Sparks.
On the 20th February, Gemma will release a rather unique double-A side single that sees her cover two Sparks tracks – ‘How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall’ & ‘Eaten By The Monster of Love’ – in her unique, torch-song noir style. These cover versions have then been reinterpreted by Sparks themselves. So Sparks covering Gemma Ray covering Sparks… basically.
Gemma, 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 and grandiosity. 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 approached them side-on. Ron & Russell then took these new Ray-styled numbers, and re-built them Sparks-style.
In the words of Gemma Ray: “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), and will feature as bonus tracks on her forthcoming new album ‘Island Fire’, released on April 16th.
In the next few months Gemma plays HMV Next Big Thing in London, SXSW, as well as European dates with Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, CW Stoneking, and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings.