Singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gem Andrews was born in the Liverpool suburb of Woolton, Merseyside in 1985. Her earliest music influences were to be found in her own home; Mum was into country and folk music whilst Dad preferred jazz.
At six years of age Gem started playing the guitar and listening to Sandy Denny. Growing up in a musically rich and diverse city such as Liverpool she had the opportunity to explore a wealth of music and lyrics during her formative years.
At fifteen she started performing Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt songs at open mic nights across the city, appearing at venues such as The Unity Theatre, Pogue Mahone’s and the Cavern Club.
While studying at Liverpool Community College Gem regularly attended poetry slams at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre and eventually at the tender age of seventeen started writing songs and playing her own music.
A chance encounter in Manchester with Emmylou Harris would both inspire and enhance her growing desire to write songs and compose her own music. Gem recalls ‘I was accidentally caught up in a security breach at the Bridgewater Hall and ended up being ushered into a room with Emmylou Harris. We had to stay there for an hour whilst the area was secured. I used the time to ask her for songwriting advice.’
Gem moved to Newcastle upon Tyne to study contemporary music & composition and also to hone her songwriting skills; she remained in Newcastle for the next eleven years.
Following on from her time in Newcastle, Gem decided to move to Vancouver to pursue her music on the Canadian folk and roots circuit. Whilst in Vancouver she immersed herself in the songwriter scene, and played all over the city at different venues several times a week. It was during her time in the city that Gem befriended The Be Good Tanyas’ songwriter and performer Sam Parton. This led to Gem being invited to perform at Canada’s NXNE showcase in Toronto in 2014.
The time Gem spent in Canada’s rich music culture inspired her to return to the UK and write and record her debut album ‘Scatter’ (2012). The album features musicians such as pedal steel player Chris Hillman (Billy Bragg) and Nicky Rushton (And All Because the Lady Loves) and gravel voiced Canadian troubadour Gabriel Minnikin (The Guthries).
Gem Andrews writes alt-country music with an honesty and rawness that takes the listener by surprise and cuts to the quick. Her new album Vancouver is a dark and melodious meditation on the forces pushing us from home and pulling us back.
With a new found confidence and maturity and guided by legendary songwriter and guitarist Martin Stephenson, Gem and her heartrending tones take us with her on many journeys; across countries, continents and oceans, seamlessly blending the shifting landscapes with the movements of her own heart.
Vancouver features a cover of Kate & Anna McGarrigle’s song Heart Like A Wheel which inspired Anna McGarrigle to send her approval saying ‘Gem’s cover of our song is gorgeous, well done’.
Vancouver’s poignant lyrics are wrapped in delicate harmonies and uplifted by a skilful and intuitive eight-piece band. The album is deeply rooted in alt-country, with Gem’s fiercely independent voice carrying inflections of Patsy Cline, Lucinda Williams and Kate & Anna McGarrigle.
Earlier this year, Gem moved to Berlin, Germany where she plays regularly at songwriter nights and cafes across the city. She has toured Germany several times already, most recently with Canadian musician and performance poet, Tanya Davis.
The low-cost bohemian lifestyle of Berlin makes pursuing music possible in this current economic climate. Gem Andrews is constantly inspired by the expansive art and music scene in Berlin and the constant flow of new and old artists collaborating and supporting each other within the community.
‘Calling’ – the official video: