Jem conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Finally Waking People Up


Although some may think of the name Jem as the 80's rock and roll cartoon character, many will soon discover that there is another Jem who has a beautiful, elegant voice with a soulful R&B hip-hop influence. Born from Wales, Jem began singing and writing songs at the age of 13. In Brighton, she was a DJ Agent and festival promoter. All this time, she had to feed her craving for singing and songwriting. In 1999, she left everything behind to move to London and pursue her career in music. In London, she met and recorded with Guy Sigsworth, who produced Bjork and Frou Frou. She eventually ended up on Madonna's "American Life" LP. In Brooklyn, New York, she met up with hip-hop producer Ge-ology, who did production work for Mos Def, Asheru, Talib Kweli, and more. Finally, Jem has come full circle and released her debut LP "Finally Woken" on ATO Records. With influences ranging from Billie Holiday and Stevie Wonder to Bjork and Portishead, Jem has made something special. "Finally Woken" has elegant pop music style, a chanteuse sensuality, an indie-pop feel, and a soulful hip-hop R&B vibe. While teen pop idols try to mix these influences together, Jem has succeeded without tawdry or tacky results. "Finally Woken" is a beautiful LP that lovers of hip-hop, R&B and indie pop could enjoy. While she was in New York, I had a conversation with Jem. She has "finally woken" and now it is time for everyone else to wake up too.

MVRemix: What does the title 'Finally Woken' mean?

Jem: About waking up and smelling the coffee. An element of new life.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on 'Finally Woken'?

Jem: Depends on the mood or day.

MVRemix: What song took you the longest to do? Why? The shortest? Why?

Jem: Quickest was 'Just A Ride'. It was done in one sitting. 'Flying High' was done in an hour, but the chorus was already written.

MVRemix: What is the best memory you have of making the LP?

Jem: Worst memory was at the end, losing it in mix final commitment. Got very anxious. Was in the studio for about 7-10 days just listened to the mixes over and over again.

MVRemix: What kind of confusion has occurred due to the fact that you have the same name as the cartoon character rock star, Jem?

Jem: At the beginning my publicist would keep getting calls from writers saying, 'Is she truly outrageous?'. My publicist wasn't familiar with the cartoon so I was a bit confused and was asked what I was up to because people kept on saying that.

MVRemix: You worked with Guy Sigsworth, producer of Bjork and others. How did you hook up with him and what was that collaboration like?

Jem: My manager works with him. He liked my demos and decided to work with me for free. He's a great guy. We couldn't stop talking.

MVRemix: How is Guy Sigsworth different than other producers?

Jem: He's brilliant. A right laugh.

MVRemix: You also worked with hip-hop producer Ge-ology. How did this come about and what was that like?

Jem: F*cking amazing! He's so talented. He's real. He's a real person that has educated me in many ways both musically and socially.

MVRemix: Vocally, who were some of your influences?

Jem: Soul singers. Mostly men. Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston. I love the vibrato of Mariah and Whitney.

MVRemix: Musically, who are some of your influences?

Jem: Stevie Wonder! I once sent him a letter in Braille asking him to produce my album. I never heard back.

MVRemix: What was your childhood like?

Jem: Very happy. In welsh it's, 'Ty Hapus'. Very close knit family.

MVRemix: What artist or group would you like to work with in the future?

Jem: Stevie Wonder, people in the hip hop community

MVRemix: What producer would you like to work with in the future?

Jem: RZA.

MVRemix: As a musician, how have you matured?

Jem: Songwriting. I am more willing to 'rip myself apart' and put it down on paper. I can look deeper into my feelings.

MVRemix: What advice would you give to a woman who wants to make a living as a musician?

Jem: Follow your heart and stick to your guns.

MVRemix: Word association. I am going to say the name of an artist or group and your say the first word that pops into you head.


Jem: Know of, haven't seen, want to know what they are like.

MVRemix: Richard Ashcroft (of The Verve).

Jem: Talented.

MVRemix: Nelly Furtado.

Jem: Happy.

MVRemix: Bjork.

Jem: Crazy wicked.

MVRemix: The Roots.

Jem: Cool as f*ck.

MVRemix: Billie Holiday.

Jem: Very soulful, tragic.

MVRemix: The Stone Roses.

Jem: Wicked.

MVRemix: Portishead.

Jem: Really cool.

MVRemix: George Bush.

Jem: Don't want to discuss him.

MVRemix: What are you most proud of?

Jem: Being involved in the album from conception to the end. Programming, co-producing, and writing.

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