Get To Know Me: Gems

The eighth year of local music festival, VanFest, is taking place on Saturday, August 25 at Royal Arch Masonic Park in Maple Valley. To celebrate the little fest that could, we're spending the next two months highlighting the bands playing VanFest 8. Today, get to know local live-tronica four piece Gems.

1. Patrick Cowley "The Jungle Dream"

Patrick Cowley was way ahead of his time and sadly died from AIDS very young the early 1980s. Made some incredible music that ended up getting used for gay porn soundtracks. Dark Entries started re-releasing his music a few years ago and he's just one of those artists I couldn't believe I hadn't heard before! No drugs needed for this song. It's psychedelic in the best way possible.

2. Harald Grosskopf "Emphasis"

Again, one of those songs that just sounds so modern even though it was made almost 40 years ago. Harald was and is making timeless music...a huge inspiration for Gems. We've always been interested in making music that doesn't sound modern or throwback but sits outside of eras.

3. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith "First Flight"

Smith is from Orcas Island and just an immense talent. Her work on modular synthesizers sounds like she is using each component in the synth as a musician in an orchestra. Often I find modular music quite cold: sound design and bleeps and blops are fine but Kaitlyn's music is warm and organic and most of all harmonic and melodic.

4. Brian Eno and David Byrne "The Jezebel Spirit"

Their collaborative album came out in the early 80s and predated much of the sample and groove based music that was to follow. Still sounds so fresh to me! I love the mix of samples and live music. It's electronic for sure but sounds so alive. That's the Gems vibe!

5. Thundercat "A Fan's Mail"

Thundercat makes music that sounds like no one else. His stuff is instantly recognizable. Go see him in concert!! Warp speed jazz and he just mutates and mutilates his songs into these incredible space jazz jams at 1000bpm. Hearing people like him make me want to quit music!

6. John Carpenter "Obsidian"

Gems make soundtrack style music a lot of the time, but we always work hard on melody and theme. Something Carpenter always did with his soundtracks. Just a master of synth sounds and mood. His actual non-soundtrack music (like this track) is great.

7. Goblin "Buio Omega"

I remember seeing Dario Argento's classic "Suspiria" for the first time and just thinking what a perfect film it was and how great the music was incorporated. That led me to all things Goblin. A band that had amazing use of texture and theme in their music.

8. Herbie Hancock "Bubbles"

The best. Herbie inspired me to pick up a synthesizer and start making noise. Bubbles is a great song filled with all sorts of little bits of sounds. I just love the middle section where everything breaks down and there's just a multitude of synthesizer overdub jabs and stabs weaving in and out of each other.

9. Marc Moulin/placebo "Balek"

Marc Moulin and Placebo were a Belgian jazz group from the early 1970s that made some incredibly funky and forward thinking music. It's a shame their stuff is a bit lost to time because it's so delicious. Love the synth riff in this one and the simple but melodic Wurlitzer playing.

10. Kali Uchis "Tomorrow"

This one is produced by Kevin Parker of Tame Impala. Just a perfect beat and Kali's smooth vocals ride over the top like a modern-day Sade. Her debut album is just so freaking good and Kevin Parker is a freaking genius: plays way too many instruments way too well. Dude probably throws away songs that other bands would die to have.

-Daniel Rapport: synthesist in GEMS

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#gems #vanfest

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