Happy Summer all!
I'm excited to report my new album "Beachwood Canyon" will be released this year.
It's been a while and no real delays other than the whole landscape has changed and I've been trying to decide on the best release plan - big, small or somewhere in the middle..
In the meantime I've finally finished my other major passion project - my screenplay which I am so excited about! Those of you who've been joining me here for a few years know my dreams of moving into film have been a long time coming as I've wanted to do it right. I feel like I've written my 'Finally Woken' in movie form so very happy.
I'll keep you posted with developments, it's a pretty wicked action / comedy / drama (if I do say so myself ;) so watch this space!
Hope you are all doing superduper :)
A Tribute in Music to Commemorate 9/11
I produced 'TEN YEARS ON - A collection of songs in remembrance of September 11th 2001' last year for the Tenth Anniversary and it is available for one more year until September 2013.
I put my heart and soul into it to do something special for the families of 9/11.
It is a beautiful album, 19 amazing songs for $9.99. If you like music please share today and throughout the year, all proceeds go to the National September 11th Memorial & Museum in New York City.
All our love and prayers,
Featured Artists : Leonard Bernstein & The New York Philharmonic, John Lennon, Suzzy & Maggie Roche, Patty Griffin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, John Legend, Jem & Vusi Mahlasela, Alanis Morissette, Cyndi Lauper & Sarah McLachlan, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, Stevie Wonder, Eva Cassidy, Johnny Cash, Dido & A. R. Rahman, Simon & Garfunkel, Tori Amos, Nanci Griffith, Nina Simone.
A Tribute in Music to Commemorate 9/11
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, people across the globe are looking for ways to connect and commemorate. Not only will some share in moments of silence, but also in prayer and in remembrance. Others, still, may find solace in music and in song.
For those looking to commemorate 9/11 through music, platinum selling Welsh recording artist Jem has compiled an album in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, on behalf of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The album entitled ‘Ten Years On – A collection of songs in remembrance of September 11th 2001’ comprises moving reflective songs by an amazing caliber of artists whose heartfelt lyrics and music will bring people together in remembrance on this monumental day.
Jem was inspired to create something special and memorable for the families and to connect all worldwide on this landmark anniversary because of her personal connection to the day. In turn raising awareness and funds for the valuable work fulfilled by the 9/11 Memorial.
The artists have all kindly donated their songs along with acclaimed California based Japanese photographer Hiroshi Watanabe who donated the cover photograph, ‘Ellis Island 2, New York’, a print of which resides in the permanent collection at Houston's Museum of Modern Art.
Thank you for your support,
Team Jem :)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
JANUARY 1ST 2011
Good news folks, as you might have read on my facebook recently, it's true, my new album has finally been announced :) Thanks to Alan Parsons, The Beatles, and my Mum, I decided to go into the studio at the beginning of December and try and make an album in a week..!
Alan mentioned that The Beatles had made 'Please Please Me' in a day when I saw him perform at Guitar Center, and when he said it, not only was I completely floored (actually I didn't quite believe it..!), but a little light went off in my head... When I subsequently found out it was true (granted it was their live touring set but still - one day!!!) I felt pretty revved up...
So I started wondering if it might be possible to do a similar thing but in a week. It was also coming up to Christmas and I thought it would make a pretty awesome surprise pressie for my Mum who is always going on and on and on and on and on (thanks Mum!) about how I should be making music above all else, and for you guys too, so here we are!
I dug out a load of old songs I've put away over the years, wrote a few new ones, and called my good friend Mike Bradford. We went in the studio for 6 days before I left LA for the holidays and it went so well I decided it would be a disservice to rush it to try & finish it in just one week (although that would have been nice ;) Anyway, it was an amazing start and great way to trick myself into thinking it would be that quick!) So I've been taking my time this month enjoying doing the vocals & harmonies & tweaks here & there to finish up and the new deadline for the mix is now St Patricks Day :) As always it's like nothing I've done before and I can't wait for you all to hear it!!! I'll post the release dates as soon as they're set.
I hope you're as happy and surprised as I am about this! What I love most about allowing life to be spontaneous is that I would never have dreamed I'd be releasing a new album so soon, especially with all my movie-making plans, and I've completely fallen in love with it already! By the end it will probably be a full month in the making but not too bad considering...
All the very best to you all and here's to an exciting and unchartered 2011!
IN RESPONSE TO VERONICA'S FACEBOOK Q :)
"Jem, u get dozens of posts but I hope u respond: what happened to catapult you to truly change your lifepath from secure work in law & life in England to entering the unknown path in Music? I honestly would like to know your answer because of the maturity level you were in at that time closely resembles my current phase in life & Im enchanted daily to make a life change nearly as paradigm."
I always knew I would work in music one way or another since I was very young, I started writing songs on the piano & it made me very happy, so it was kinda a given in my mind that one day I just would. But I didn't know when or how it would all come about, I didn't plan an exact timeline. I got on with living & enjoying life, I thankfully got my law degree but never worked in law, I went straight into club promotions & festival production and after that ran a breakbeat record label. I worked really hard behind the scenes until one day things had been bubbling up inside for a while & I just decided that evening in Brighton, around the time of the August eclipse 1999 (I remember it quite clearly!) that the time was upon me, to go and fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a singer/songwriter :)
Of course everything always looks easier on paper! Fast forward many years, struggles, craziness, awesomeness, ups and downs, lessons & learning curves, and priceless life experiences later, and here we are...
Ready for my next shift - always making music and now introducing screenwriting, directing and an additional entrepreneurial pursuit to be launched later this year.
It's good to know who you are, what you want, what your skills are and balance reality with risk.
I've actually never had a secure job, including now. Sometimes it is very difficult, especially financially, but I've always been comfortable taking risks (maybe because I've never had a secure job..) and as James Cameron has said - "fortune favors the brave", I hope so, he hasn't done too bad - from 'Piranha Part Two : The Spawning' to two of the worlds highest grossing films!!
One thing is for sure in a self employed creative line of work, you never know what's gonna happen next so it's always interesting which I love. I can only speak for myself and it might sound cliched, but I have to follow my heart, almost as if it's out of my hands, if I have an idea or want to try something, it will not give up on me until I do it...
(This can also be incredibly unrelaxing!!!)
Hope that helps & good luck :)
YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU DREAM OF, TAKE THE FIRST STEP...
I decided to take time out from my work to respond to a FB wall comment below. For those who might have missed it I posted this earlier :
“Yesterday turned into such a special day, I had an amazing epiphany out of the blue on my walk. So important to allow yourself (or force yourself!) to have peaceful time on your own without ipod, phone, tv, internet, radio, magazine interference. Quietness allows the universe to help you filter through everything that is cocooning within, then the butterfly can emerge...awesome.”
To which Patrick responded :
This got me thinking...
As much as there are reality shows on tv currently showing ‘rich’ people sitting around doing a fair bit of nothing, avec a lot of drama, (albeit any charity work is a good thing so that's a contribution), in my experience, the wealthy people I've met have worked their arses off and are still up at the crack of dawn every day working away. They might have nicer houses and offices, but the majority have certainly worked hard for them.
I believe you create your own destiny, I have, and there are countless examples of people from all walks of life who have followed their hearts and been very successful. Taking a walk, being in nature, is completely free and accessible to anyone.
It seems to me that avoiding stopping, thinking, and trying to do something about any dissatisfaction in ones life, will keep that said ‘less fortunate’ person in the same place, with the cycle repeating... Distractions definitely have their uses, we all need escape now and again, especially in the light of the current crushing economy with so many people facing unbelievably tough times... But that said, I can’t imagine a more important time to be still to contemplate how to get out of any unhappy situation, if someone is indeed not enamored with their circumstances.
This train of thought reminded me of a PBS special I once saw with Dr. Wayne Dyer. It might not be for everyone, but I think he has a lot of wisdom to share with the world. Don't be put off by his shiny lovely head! He is not professing to be a guru, just a man who has experienced a lot, has learnt a lot, and takes full responsibility for himself. Coming from very humble beginnings (growing up in an orphanage on the east side of Detroit), overcoming alcoholism and establishing himself as a best selling author, I think he has some valuable insights.
Check out these videos one by one, pretty thought provoking :
Excuses Begone (start vid at around 2.05secs) :
The paradigm for change, the best questions to ask to get yourself out of any particular rut or outmoded habit :
Finally, check out the AMAAAAAAAZING Dan Caro! I'm paraphrasing here but this is his story :
Check out the next video, Dan not only became a musician, but he became a drummer, without any hands! See for yourself :
Thank you Patrick for moving me to write this, I feel much richer for having re-watched all the clips :)
"There are people who have money and people who are rich."
A PERFECT WEEK :)
I just wanted to post about this past week before I head out into the sunshine, as it has been PERRRFECT!
My new years resolution is to slow down and enjoy the ride, take evenings and weekends off where possible and not run myself into the ground (it's taken me a while to realize that's no fun...duh!)
I was rushing around like a fool last year and I have to say I've had the most wonderful productive & tranquil week by following these ideals. Being mellow, taking my time, switching off, filling up the well (so to speak), nurturing myself, and feeling guilt-free about it all. Seems logical right!
I’ve been creating & singing beautiful harmonies over the new songs, re-writing a few lyrics here & there and loving the whole process. If I haven’t got something finished in the timeline I’ve set or would have liked for the day, it’s totally okay. Everything is as it should be.
Anyhoo, just wanted to share that on this gorgeous Saturday incase anyone else needs reminding to slow down & relish the moment! The quality of the experience and what has been accomplished is tenfold. As Dr. Wayne Dyer says :
‘I allow my life to unfold naturally. There is a time for being ahead, there is a time for being behind, there is a time for being in motion, there is a time for being at rest, there is a time for being vigorous, there is a time for being exhausted.’
So I’m pleased to report I’m back in the studio super happy & relaxed and as always it’s seeping into the music :)
Here’s to a fruitful, pleasure-full, quality-full, love-filled, productive & action-packed 2011, without all the hustle & fuss my friends, onwards & upwards we go.
Row, row, row, your boat,
Have a great weekend!
HOLIDAY GIFTS ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE ;)
Just went to a private screening of www.iamthedoc.com by director Tom Shadyac and LOVED it. Thought I'd share this with you - I took some FWoken cd's to the screening to give out as a gift. I had a few left over and on the way home I was on a huge high (still am) from the documentary, about connecting with people and how our energies effect everyone else. Anyway, feeling light as a feather after a pretty stressful day (note to self, connecting to something more imp that one's own 'stuff' always relieves stress), I saw a homeless woman and asked if she'd like a cd (she had quite a lot of stuff with her so it didn't seem an odd item to offer). She had no front teeth and we got into a conversation about what type of music it was and she took it, looked at it, and in the end gave it back saying it wasn't really her thing..! It was a classic moment I have to say, we smiled, both wished each other well and I was off home...priceless...
SHARING WORDS :)
Just dropping by for a quick sec as I've got severe bronchitis and should really be resting ;)
Living Beyond Ego
Living With Constancy
Living As An Enlightened Leader
Living Without Rules
Living By Natural Law
Living Self Mastery
Living Beyond Superficialities
Living By Hidden Virtue
Living By Letting Go
Living By Silent Knowing
Living By Staying Simple Hearted
Living By Emulating The Sea
Living By Cooperating
Living Without Enemies
Living Without Sickness
Living By Demanding Little
Living By Bending
Living Without Resentments
Living Your Own Utopia
If you read them while listening to mellow music they will soak in in a completely different way, it's amazing what music can do to alter your emotional state at any time, isn't it? :) Nos da.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
In this life, I’ve learnt it’s everything to pay attention to what makes you happy, inspired, enthused, what you naturally gravitate towards and in addition what flows easily. Any activity that fits into these categories is worth pursuing in one way or another, professionally or for the sheer fun of it!
I LOVE music, I love entrepreneurial pursuits, and I LOVE film. Over the years I’ve been juggling all three behind the scenes and this year has been fantastic because for ‘once in my life’ (can’t miss the Stevie Wonder reference!), I’ve started focusing on what I REALLY want to do next.
I feel blessed to get so many lovely posts on facebook telling me how excited you all are about my new music, and wondering when it’s coming. So I wanted to give you a detailed update of where I’m at with everything to keep you informed and involved :)
For reasons I can’t go into now, I decided to put the ‘piano album’ on the back burner earlier this year. When I make music I like to put super positive energy into every single detail, and that’s why I think I’ve been fortunate enough to have it travel around the world and touch people as it has. Unfortunately, even though it was sounding beautiful, circumstances were such that that wasn’t the case, so for now it's on the shelf.
Around this same time, I realized I wasn’t practicing what I preach (so to speak), I wasn't following my heart and it was making me a little frustrated. I was basically doing what I felt I should do for everyone else. Which leads me to...
My film :)
I've been studying filmmaking, screenwriting, and developing script ideas for several years now, hoping one day I'd have the time to follow my passion into movie-land and start making films :) As both music and film are huge creative pursuits, it became obvious there would never be a right time given my music career, unless I made one. If I really wanted to get the ball rolling, I'd have to prioritize and just do it! This past May I went on a wicked film course previously attended by Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, and Chris Nolan, to name but a few, which inspired me to make a quick low-budget one-location movie. Even though I already had several other ideas in development, they are all much bigger films and it seemed like the right thing. So, I wrote the screenplay this summer, kinda in secret, and was planning to shoot this November.
As it happens, the quick 'no-budget' feature became less and less quick to write, and less low-budget as I went along! The important lesson (albeit annoying), was the priceless amount of screenwriting experience I garnered through the process. No matter how many books I could read from my library on the subject, none could have ever replaced what I learnt through actually completing a full script. Phase one.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao-tzu
So shooting my first movie next month was the big news I was hoping to deliver this week. It is funny, quirky, small town, good... However, after doing several rewrites, and getting some hefty 'coverage' notes from my sister last week, even though I have a great team of crew and actors around me who are ready to go, and I'm itching to get behind the camera, I've decided to take all that I've learnt and apply it to the film I initially set out to make before the course, a story that really moves my heart :)
High standards are so worth it, because with a lot of care and love the end result is always very special. I want my script to be fantastic, the best I can possibly make it, so it'll not just be good, but hopefully a great, outstanding film.
No pressure there then..! ;)
So if you've been wondering what I've been up to the last few months and where the new music is, that's what I've been doing, and it’s what I’m gonna continue to concentrate on for now. It hasn’t been an easy choice, most people want me to stick solely to the music, in a loving way of course. I’m happy to say even my biggest fan, my Mum, has finally come around. She’s now sending me newspaper clippings of directors interviews and appropriate radio program links, very sweet!
As I sing about in the song 'It's Amazing', you've gotta go for it! You never know what the outcome will be, you never know where it will lead, it's a calling... and I for one can't ignore them, and I'm very happy about that :)
So what does this mean musically? It’s going to be a minute before the next album is released, I’m presuming it will be sometime next year. It's not far off and I’m VERY happy with it so that’s the main thing. I’m also going to tour it, I just don’t know exactly when that will be...! The good news is, I’m obviously writing and recording the soundtrack for my film too, which will be Superduper! And on top of that I co-produced a new artist this summer around my screenwriting, and when that album’s released if you listen closely you might hear a little Welsh girls ethereal vocals gliding over seven of the tracks..! More on that in my news section in the next few months :)
It is annoying that everything takes so long, but I’m gonna be releasing music until I’m old and grey so there will be plenty to keep you cozy :) This dream has been a long time coming, and lots of doors are opening so I want to concentrate on it at the moment. The day I met Bruce Flohr, my A&R who signed me to ATO Records in 2003, I sat in his office and said “I’m gonna get my music all around the world and I’m gonna make a film with Steven Spielberg.” Who knows... gotta be assertive folks!
As well as directing the music videos last year (‘It’s Amazing’ & ‘I Want You To...’), this past June I had the amazing opportunity to work-shadow famed director Tarsem Singh on the set of his new movie 'Immortals’ in Montreal. It's a giant Greek action/drama/fantasy with Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto and many more talented folks, including two 'Welshies' - Luke Evans and Joseph Morgan. All I can say is : WOW. WHAT AN AWESOME EXPERIENCE! I'll try and get some pictures from Tarsem and the producers to post.
So now you’re on this exciting new journey with me too! :)
I’ll let you know of any big developments as and when they happen, and in the meantime will keep posting news and fun happenings. As always thanks for the good vibes, support and smiley faces on my facebook, myspace peeps come on over!
MY GREAT AUNT YANA :)
My great aunt turned 87 this week! Such an amazing light :)
DALAI LAMA ADDRESS, 1963
Just read this lovely passage in The Dalai Lama's Book of Wisdom :
I believe happiness comes from kindness. Happiness cannot come from hatred or anger. Nobody can say, "Today I am happy because this morning I was very angry." On the contrary, people feel uneasy and sad and say, "Today I am not very happy because I lost my temper this morning." So you see this fact is something natural. Through kindness, whether at our own level or at the national and international level, through mutual understanding and through mutual respect we will get peace, we will get happiness, and we will get genuine satisfaction. It is very difficult to achieve peace and harmony through competition and hatred, so the practice of kindness is very, very important and very, very valuable in human society.
Wishing you all lots of happiness through kindness :)
NOTE FROM THE UNIVERSE TODAY :)
Got this in my inbox today from www.tut.com and thought I'd share :
Think that it's fun,
Think that the reasons that elude you will one day catch up,
Think that you're important,
And think that you're beautiful.
- PLEASE HELP THE PEOPLE OF HAITI -
If you are able to donate, below are links to vetted organisations :
If you cannot afford to donate, your loving prayers for the injured, missing, displaced, and all their families are powerful and most welcomed :)
"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"
Many thanks for your love, help & concern,
December 17th 2009
‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY :)
…and thankful & giving!
As a thank you to you all, my brother Glass Pear and I would like to give you a gift this holiday season -
On Dec 25th we’ll be sending out our new holiday song “Until the Morning Comes” to everyone on our mailing lists as a big THANK YOU for all your wonderful support, so sign up now if you haven't already :)
The cover artwork is one of my favorite pics of my brother and I - I’ll have to ask my Mum how old we are, I can’t work out if it’s 4 & 6 or older, check out those 70s floral curtains! Not to mention Yestyn's top..! I'm the 'bandit' on the right ;)
And if you can’t wait until then, it is on itunes now
Hope you have a wonderful holiday season and I can't wait to share lots more new music with you in 2010!
As you might have noticed I’ve been a little more ‘up-to-date’ recently and have been juggling studio time with keeping in touch on facebook & twitter as per orders from my Mum(!) who has been most concerned about my general lack of blogs! Mums have to put up with a lot don’t they ;) bless them, well it’s the least I could do so here we are. I love being in contact as it happens, and I love hearing from you all too, that’s actually one of the best parts of getting the music out there :) I just don’t like being on my computer that much other than to record, and I find myself getting stuck for hours once I am… a little computer-phobic you could say!
Anyway, there are new pics up here, plus stills from the ‘I Want You To…’ video, and other things you might find of interest if you have a look around. A brand new site will be coming next year with the new album, but hopefully this is a little breath of fresh air for now :)
As some of you know I’m back in the studio working on a side-project piano album with film composer/arranger extraordinaire Jeff Atmajian, which is coming along nicely, and I’m also working on my first screenplay, so life is good and busy. In the midst of it all I’m still trying to feel as free as possible and keep things spontaneous so the amazing-ness that is creative work stays that way!
Other than that, I hope you guys can help me, I haven’t mentioned this before but when my US label left the Major they were with I was informed my mailing list had been ‘lost’…hmmm….. So, it would be a big help if you wouldn’t mind re-signing up as the list dated back to the beginning of the It All Starts Here EP / Finally Woken CD in 2003! If you click here we have a new form now, so you can let me know where you are in the world (if you wish), which is always nice to know, and you can also tell me what you’d like more of here from me, if anything springs to mind :)
It’ll be in touch now and then with news and free downloads etc. I’m also hoping to do some pod casts in the not too distant future, so I can let you know how and when to download / listen to those. I did have a few sneaky thoughts last night about…shocker…TOURING..too! But, I won’t get carried away, I’m well known for changing my mind about these things as it involves SO MUCH PREPARATION..! We’ll see, if I do you’ll have to help me figure out where to go which is why it’s useful to know where you all are in the world through the mailing list.
So back to work and here’s to phase one of the revamp, I look forward to continuing our correspondences on the other social sites too :)
I got an email today that said at the bottom “May Your Life Be Extraordinary”, I think that’s a pretty great sign off!
All the best,
BACK IN DA STUDIO!
Wednesday May 13th 2009
What up y'all?
Ok so I've been in the States way too long but not to worry, like Hopkins and Tom Jones I still haven't lost my accent!
Thanks for all your messages, especially all you guys in Mexico, I hope you have been able to find the cd by now! I'll write again soon to be more specific about everything that's going on, my plate is very full I must say, and all is superduper!
One of the most exciting things is being back in the studio again. I've decided to record a 'piano' album kind of side project that will be out later this year, doing quite a few covers, can't wait to share it with you all :)
I'm also thinking about possibly starting twitter, to send nice messages and sentiments that come my way or out of my mind, to anyone who might be in need of a positive arrow into their world from time to time. I'm so not one to want to spend much time near technological equipment though, unless it makes music... That said, I have a feeling it could be a good thing so we'll see, I'll keep you posted.
Other than that I'll leave you with a quote I read today in a box a friend gave me with soap in it, you might have heard it before :
"The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up"
I just looked this up online to check I had it right because I can't be arsed to walk next door (lazy!), and I saw this one too :
"Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry"
P.S. Is it me or has Eva Cassidy got the best voice in the Universe?
VIDEO VIDEO VIDEO (& HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!)
Thursday 1st January 2009
Yes, it’s about that time again to start getting hair & makeup, jumping in and out of crazy costumes, and having incredible amounts of fun making a NEW VIDEO!
It’s been a while since my last Hawaiian-esk escapade where I was swishing my hula skirt and ‘wishing I’ could go along with my beloved on his trip! This video for the song ‘It’s Amazing’ has been a very long time coming indeed, ironically when it actually happened it was the fastest one I’ve ever done!
Back in the summer we were discussing lots of different options, one of which was even potentially having the cast of Sex and the City in the video! My manager joked we should have ‘Big’ at my place cooking me eggs in the morning, I told him that would be sacrilegious! Anyway, the shoot was AMAZING as per the song title, and I couldn’t be happier with the video. It’s extremely special and very close to my heart as it not only accompanies the song exactly as I had hoped and imagined, but it actually embodies me doing exactly what I’m singing about in the song, “going for it”, by co-directing it too which was a fabulous first!
The story goes:
Back in July I met Jesse Dylan at a friends soiree and started having a lovely chat.
We continued our conversation and I found out Jesse was a director. I told him of my secret ambitions of getting behind the camera and how I’d been reading a lot of books on the subject and about cinematography etc, and he said, “Why don’t you direct your next music video?” I explained it wasn’t really something I felt an urge to do, that I’m interested in features, and didn’t really fancy my first attempt being to direct myself. Regardless, he looked at me and said, “You should do it”.
Later that week I went for a walk and meditated on what Jesse had said and my intense and growing passion for film. (Over the last few years while waiting for Down To Earth to be released, I’ve realized my inquisitiveness and love of this storytelling medium has been there all along, since I was a young’un, and it’s now rocketing to the surface!) I listened to ‘It’s Amazing’ imagining what I would do if I were to direct it, and I suddenly realized Jesse was right, I had to do it! I also reflected on how interesting it was that when I wrote the song I conjured up past events and emotions of when I had been trying to get a break, which I thought and hoped would speak to others who might be at similar junctures in their lives, and perhaps be a comfort and motivator. As I overlooked the ocean that day, I realized that the song was speaking to me also! How curious! My songs have often done this over the years (sometimes in a sweet way - Finally Woken, sometimes annoyingly so - Just a Ride..!) but this was really unexpected. I decided then and there I was going to do it, and in that way, the song and video would be rolled into one as an interesting testament to the song’s message.
Fast forward a few months - the endeavor floated for a while, release dates were finalized, and I happened to get an email one day from a person I met a year ago, on Halloween, at the Murakami MOCA party in LA...
My sister and I, and my friend over from the UK, were catching up by an outside bar when we spotted two men in suits with bald heads and big mustaches! They looked very funny. I think my sister told them they had the best costumes and they came over. We all got conversing, emails were exchanged and that was that. The email I received a year later (there had been a few in between) was a group email from Saam Gabbay, aka one of the ‘Mustache Men’! Letting everyone know his new website was up. I knew he was a creative fellow as he’d been running around taking photos the night we met, and although I was right in the middle of something, I had a strong urge to check out his new site. I knew I was supposed to look at it (I have fairly poor time management skills which is why I don’t blog as much as I’d like to, so doing something like this in the middle of work is a tad dangerous!) Anyway, I had a look, saw Saam’s film called “a very sad day” (http://www.saamgabbay.com/special-projects/podcasts/) and fell in love with it. The minute I saw it I knew that’s what I wanted to do for my video.
I contacted Saam and we met to discuss co-directing and a plan. He was enthused especially as he’s a music-lover (he confided that he sometimes feels the need to wind up his window when blasting long 80’s jazz solos in his car! I told him I didn’t think that was bad at all, and that I like all those cheesy love songs that stay in the charts for 13 weeks like old Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey ballads, I think he thought that was worse..!) and also a very talented closet musician himself. It turns out he made loads of dance tracks for himself back in the day which we listened to in the edit, ‘experimental’ drum ‘n’ bass a la LTJ Bukem, as it was known then. I used to run ‘Jungle’ nights in Brighton so this was a very interesting discovery! His music skills also came in handy on the set when he thankfully worked out my own song notes for me to play on the piano. (Lester (Mendez) originally played the intro on the track, the whole thing in one take no less, straight off the bat with no practicing, I was very impressed!) I write and play things by ear and the organ unfortunately wasn’t omitting a sound so I had no chance.
We worked at a CRAZY pace just before the holidays: completely changed the treatment four days before the shoot to the idea I’d first had when I initially wrote the song, hired Jennifer the amazing stylist on the wed night (giving her just 24hrs to find all the outfits), and didn’t lock down the location until the thurs when we were shooting the next day, completely nuts! Anyway, the day went amazing and there are lots of great outtakes that I’ll post here (on my site www.jem-music.com for those of you reading this elsewhere), as soon as I can get them up. I learnt so much it was fantastic. One of my favorite experiences was actually in the edit, where Saam and I sat and went through all the photo-films (the whole video is made of still photo’s strung together incase you hadn’t noticed!) to put together the video. I’ve always enjoyed engineering my vocals and demos (in Logic) in my studio, and it was great to get a taste of Final Cut too.
I’m so excited to get it out there. I hope you like the end result and will send me all your comments on youtube!
Other than that I hope you are all having a WONDERFUL holiday experience and are looking forward to a SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS 2009!!!
THE ART OF ALCHEMY
In response to some of the responses to my last blog on my myspace, I am not here to dispute anyone’s point of view, I’m sure my time would be better spent writing new music. I deliberately did not go into specifics and I’m not interested in discussing taxes! That is not why I was writing. I’m sorry to disappoint some, and causing divides is the antithesis of what I wish to do here and with my music. I genuinely just want the best for all of us in the long term and I honestly feel more hopeful than before. That of course might change, but for now that’s how I feel.
We can all wager in on what might happen next, what we believe, what we feel we ‘know’ for sure, but the truth is, the future remains to be seen, because it is just that, the future. I was talking about my personal feelings, I don’t ‘know’ anything else. As Nietzsche says, “Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies” which is well worth remembering. We all indulge in thinking we know a lot more than we actually do about so many things, which is one of the thoughts that inspired my first single ‘They’. None of us here, as far as I am presuming, have ever run for president, or been president, and really seen behind those scenes (if you have, please enlighten the rest of us..!) Who knows what goes on, who is really in control, how critical decisions are made. It must be a nightmare job. Trying to please everyone in America is going to be nigh-on impossible, let alone the world. I was just saying that I am feeling more hopeful, I’m not expecting Obama to come out in January, wave a magic wand, and the world will be a perfect place. Although that would obviously be awesome…
We are all different, we are going to have different opinions, debates can be fruitful, but it doesn’t need to be so black and white, or fiery. ‘This is who I support, so I don’t like/am annoyed with that person’ etc. Some good points have been raised, and I have to say although I didn’t expect my letter to be so pulled apart, I am pleased because it has given me the opportunity to be more specific, and lead me to something new which I’ll go into below (the process of which inspired the title, incase you were wondering).
When I wrote my letter for the Obama wall it was meant in the spirit I wrote it which was a general message of congratulations and joy. I wasn’t being specific, but I will absolutely be now as I can see how it can be misconstrued. I by no means meant to disrespect any of the incredible people who devote their time and energy aiding the peace process worldwide. I will qualify, that it is the first time in ‘my’ life, since I have started taking an interest in foreign affairs, that I have felt interested and inspired by a president/prime minister, and specifically, in the UK or US. Again, this is just in MY opinion and it is completely subjective in that respect. I am not taking pot shots at any past presidents or prime ministers, especially as I was too young or too unaware to understand, or pay attention to most, so even more specifically, just to be clear, I am talking about the events of last week. Nelson Mandela, the Dali Lama, Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Thich Nhat Hanh, to name just a few EXCEPTIONAL and INSPIRATIONAL campaigners for peace and unity are a given, and I have the HIGHEST RESPECT for them all and anyone, whether on a large or small scale, who works for this cause.
This particluar blog experience has made me realize my real passion has nothing to do with the specific politics, but as I’ve mentioned in my new album notes, the hope of bringing people together, and peace “freedom from conflict or disagreement among people or groups of people”. While considering this all, I did some research and stumbled upon ‘theelders.org’. I hadn’t heard of it before (Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson are members - teach me not to pay attention!) and I’m going to contact them to see how I can get involved. So thanks for the reminder of how ineffective words can sometimes be, and here’s to the practice of turning a seemingly negative into a positive.
I am very aware of what is going on in Darfur, the Congo, Zimbabwe (where one of my best friends lives), Kashmir where a family member lives (where Obama’s administration might actually be pulling back from their involvement in peace talks). I only ‘know’ what I’ve read as I’m not there, but it is heinous, atrocious, and heart breaking. The level of destruction and devastation is obscene. War it is a deadly cycle, and as the years have gone by most victims are now civilians. I read today that during World War I, civilians made up fewer than 5% of all casualties, whereas today, 75% or more of those killed or wounded in wars are non-combatants. I know people tragically effected by war - I was with a family in NY on 9/11, who lost their father in the South Tower (my song ‘You Will Make It’ is in memory of David Berry who passed away that day). And people trying to help the process - a friend I’ve known since I was four, is currently serving in Afghanistan as a bomb defusal expert.
I ‘know’ a few things, I have beliefs, I don’t want to argue over politics, I’m not here to change anyone’s opinion, I am just sharing mine, it is my blog after all..! It is logical to me to hope for the best, rather than think the worst. That’s how I look at things. I understand these are difficult times and emotions are high. I could choose to only blog about situations regarding and effecting the music industry or ‘pop’ world (zzzzz), and maybe I’ll think twice now(!), but I hope this goes someway to negate any antagonism on my website.
Artists have frequently oversimplified things since the beginning of time. Music is for escapism, about touching emotions, and sometimes spreading joy, love and peace if that is the writers’ inclination. As Bob Dylan once said “songs can’t save the world”, but I don’t see why people shouldn’t try. An old friend of mine once equated my optimism to children who still believe in Father Christmas (as we say back home), and that’s fine with me. I’d listen to ‘All you need is love’ over a song about politics any day!
The future beckons so I won’t be debating this any further, I’m a singer/songwriter after all and need to get back to the studio. Politics aside, have a wonderful week and I’ll continue to support and encourage positive thoughts, and hope that we can come together to effect positive change for the whole world, not just our individual countries.
All the best,
A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT :
I got an email this morning from www.avaaz.org explaining they are putting a flood of messages to Obama from around the world on a giant wall in Washington DC. They will go up in the next 48hrs to make the most of this historic unifying event. If you have a minute, perhaps you’d like to take a look at their website and everything going on.
This is what I wrote :
IT'S A NEW DAWN, IT'S A NEW DAY, IT'S A NEW LIFE FOR EVERYONE. AND WE'RE FEELING GOOD!
Last night was a momentous occasion for America and the world. President Barack Obama, you are the first inspiring, humanitarian leader I've had the pleasure of seeing and believing in my lifetime. I am THRILLED at your appointment.
I am a 33yr old British citizen (Wales), residing in Los Angeles and felt honored to be a part of your country last night. I was not on the planet to support Martin Luther King and Gandhi but I feel their presence in you. I look forward to the change you will initiate, and seeing it through to completion. THANK YOU for taking on this vital role in such thorny times, and most importantly, for showing everyone the seemingly impossible is possible, you are an embodiment of that.
The tasks at hand are mighty, but we can get the world back on track together. We can bridge the divides; we can love one another as brothers and sisters, no matter what color, race, nationality, or creed. I know this is possible.
Your message is clear, and I for one concur and join you in this quest.
Happy Wednesday 5th November 2008 Mr. President.
All my love and support,
The atmosphere here is different today.
Obama’s election has brought great hope to the world for the first time in a long time. America has shown the world they want change and one man has shown what can be achieved with faith, will and perseverance. Imagine what can be done if we all help effect change together with right action, the scale could be a millionfold.
The next phase is not going to be unproblematic, it is an overwhelming job Obama has undertaken, especially now we are all looking to him to fix everything, the pressure is great. But that’s why he was elected. He’s intelligent, determined, sharp, humorous, trusted, capable, and most importantly he has a heart. He will listen to the people, I believe that. It is likely to take baby steps until we see any real change, but if we are patient, supportive, have faith, and believe, we will see results.
This election is an incredible and necessary start for the next chapter, but as Avaaz.org says, the sharks are already starting to circle. Obama can’t do it all alone. We have to stay involved, have to care, and he needs to continue to know what the people want. Furthermore, we must all do our share to help the world in any way we can.
It might seem a little crass but it’s not unlike Star Wars, with the force and the dark side always looming. It is time to use the force everyone!
As you can tell I’m feeling incredibly passionate and enthused right now! For the first time in my life there is an international figure promoting unity and peace. I will be watching this space.
To the future…
THE STORY OF SHAYA
Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
Hi all, Happy Tuesday!
I’ve been wanting to write about the following story for a while now but have been a little caught up with album release stuff. I finally found some time today so here we are. Some of you may already have read or heard it as it’s an exert from one of Dr. Wayne Dyers fantastic books. If not, you’re in for a treat, a treat for the soul.
I love Dr. Dyer’s take on things, and I caught this particular story in a talk he was giving for a PBS special, it is an accompaniment to his book ‘The Power of Intention’. (I think they are still airing the special so keep an eye out, he is an awesome speaker). Anyway, it brought tears to my eyes and I immediately wanted to share it here :
In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning-disabled children. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school career, while others can be mainstreamed into conventional schools. At a Chush fundraiser dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, “Where is the perfection in my son, Shaya? Everything God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God’s perfection?” The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father’s anguish, and stilled by the piecing query.
“I believe,” the father answered, “that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that he seeks is in the way people react to this child.” He then told the following story about his son, Shaya.
One afternoon Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked, “Do you think they’ll let me play?” Shaya’s father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya’s father understood that if his son was chosen to play, it would give him a sense of belonging. Shaya’s father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shaya could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We’re losing by six runs, and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team, and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.”
Shaya’s father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play in center field. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya’s team scored again, and now had two outs and the bases loaded, with the potential winning run on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shaya was given the bat. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. However, as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shaya could at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came in, and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya’s teammates came up to Shaya, and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shaya. As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung the bat, and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field far beyond the reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first. Run to first.” Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right-fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running.
But the right-fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head. Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second.” Shaya ran toward second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases toward home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, “Run to third.” As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shaya, run home.” Shaya ran home, stepped on the home plate, and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a “grand slam” and won the game for his team.
“That day,” said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “those 18 boys reached their level of God’s perfection.”
WELCOME WELCOME WELCOME PEOPLE!
I’m writing to you from my studio in LA, looking at two framed vinyl records that started everything off — ‘Pinky & Perky - Have a Party’ which I sampled for the title track of my first album ‘Finally Woken’ and ‘Les Swingle Singers - Jazz Sebastien Bach’ a record from 1967, which I sampled for my first single ‘They’. I also have a framed poster of my EP ‘It All Starts Here…’ which is one of my favorite pieces of artwork. It’s a photograph of my sister Chloe, happily swinging around as a young girl, set against a beautiful backdrop of red—y/orange. The title of which becomes relevant again and again as life continues in motion…
So I hope you’re enjoying the new album, I’m so glad it’s finally out!
(As some of you might know from my blog — HELLO, HELLO, HELLO!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! — it was actually due out last year but ended up ‘frozen’ for quite a while).
The music industry has changed so much since my last record, it’s like I’ve been away 500 years! There definitely seems to be a lot more worries in today’s climate of shrinking sales etc. It’s important to understand what’s going on, but I have to say, it’s not something I’ve allowed trouble me in the past, and I don’t feel the need to worry about it now. ‘A la’ a lot of my lyrics, I know the best of us comes when we’re happy, light, and inspired and that’s where I like to keep my mind focused. The truth is, the people who matter the most are YOU. The people who consume the music, buy cds / records / downloads, love them, sing—a—long in cars, on walks, at work and at home (I do!), who go on the internet and spread the word etc. You are powerful, which is wicked! So I just wanted to tell you, I made this album for me and for you, and I’m very happy you’re out there.
On this note, I’d like to apologize to everyone outside of the US as you might have noticed the album has not been released at the same time. It has been slightly delayed which was not intended and is not ideal but it’s out of my hands (politics again, yawn…I probably shouldn’t have called it my ‘Empire Strikes Back’ from the beginning, that’s dark shit man..!)
It won’t be long now though and I will post the date the minute I know. We have a great partner overseas so it’s all gonna be superduper. It is a lovely package so I’m glad you’ll get to see it soon too!
I hope you enjoy Down to Earth as much as Finally Woken, and THANK YOU SO MUCH for continuing to spread the word. As you will see, the new website is simple at present but I am branching out and in the process of building it into an amalgamation of lots of things, not solely for my music. As soon as the album’s out everywhere I’ll be doing some wicked competitions to keep in touch with you all here. They are artistic, fun, and suitable for everyone, so I hope they’ll get your creative juices flowing!
Enjoy the new album, music and lyrics. It’s SO lovely to read all your messages on my myspace and responses to the blogs. As always, huge thanks for all the love and support, and here’s to happy music lovers everywhere! : )
Your Welsh friend,
I love when you hear something, read something or someone sends you a little ditty that resonates with you at the perfect moment in time, as if it’s been written, spoken, sung - just for you. I think that’s why I love all the creative mediums so much...
“It is a cardinal belief of mine, that you don’t know when the best part of your life is about to begin…”
Mr. Michaels goes on to say that we think it’s going to be between 18 - 22 yrs because that’s what we’re brought up to believe, but basically nobody knows.
I would definitely concur and think it would be a crying shame if the best part of your life was over by 22..! What a terrible thought!
I met a friend of a friend at a wedding years ago who had been working in TV for 10yrs, at 30 he decided the career was not for him and wanted to try something new. He subsequently went out on a limb and studied to be a lawyer, which he now is, and has probably been for nearly the same amount of time. I love stories like this. Not many people invest that amount of time only to decide they want to try their hand at something else and actually do. Of course I can’t bank on how happy he is being a lawyer, but hey, at least he didn’t settle (no pun intended!)
Another great example is Louise Hay. I imagine she had no idea that the best part of her life was gonna happen much later than the traditional success curve often hammered home. She had an incredibly tough upbringing, and ploughed on regardless through her difficulties which eventually became the very things that led her to success. Her first book was published at age 58 in the 80’s and was still, as of February 2008, on the New York Bestsellers list! On top of that she is actually self-published through her own publishing company, Hay House, which she decided to set up back then so she didn’t have to explain and/or compromise her writing to fit the mold of what most publishers were interested in publishing back then. Very inspiring! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_Hay)
There are so many examples, I love it. Basically, best not to think we know anything about how anything’s gonna turn out! Let’s just hope the best is yet to come…
Before I go I cannot resist adding a few more wicked quotes for good measure :
“Follow your bliss and the doors will open where there were no doors before.” Joseph Campbell
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
"If you knew who walked beside you, at all times, on this path that you have chosen, you could never experience fear again." A Course in Miracles
To finish, possibly my favorite quote ever :
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win” Mahatma Gandhi
That’s all folks!
SEX SEX SEX!
HELLO, HELLO, HELLO!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
Thank you SO much for all your kind words, it’s extremely inspiring and rewarding to know you’re all enjoying the music! I’m happy to say that, after some fantastic hibernation time, I’m ready to get back to bizness - regenerated, rejuvenated, and ready to rock. I couldn’t be more excited about the new album and I sincerely hope you’re all gonna love it too!
Apologies for my rather ‘behind’ websites, before anyone goes blaming my Welshness (not behind in the rugby are we!) the explanation is below. Reflecting on it today however, I must say I think sometimes there’s nothing wrong with being a little behind, it gives you a chance to breathe. A friend once said about the movie business: it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I think that can equally be applied to both the music business and life in general…
So, my ‘Empire Strikes Back’. That’s not the title btw, wouldn’t want Lucas on my case unless he’s offering me a part..! With a sprinkle of hip hop, a sprinkle of funk, a sprinkle of rock, an extra juicy helping of dance floor magic, and this time around some Cuban salsa and Japanese vibes mixed in for good measure...not to mention Yoda’s influence of course! I won’t say any more as I want it to be a delicious surprise for you all, just hoping to get you as excited as I am about the release! It’ll be dropping end of summer so keep your eyes and ears open.
Incase you’ve been curious, there have been a few hold-ups over the last year which I can happily say are all sorted now. My label decided to buy all their artists back from SonyBmg last year, so I was ‘frozen’ for quite a while, this included my website etc. Things are now full steam ahead and I’ve become label mates with the extraordinarily talented Radiohead - so no complaints here! It has been proven to me time and time again that the universe is in absolute perfect order and we just need to get aligned. So I’m looking forward to trusting that, going with the flow, and enjoying the ride!
I’ll check in again soon, in the meantime if you want to hear some GREAT new music, check out my brother’s awesome project ‘Glass Pear’ on myspace and also my second collaboration ‘Ecouter’ with the wonderful Carmen Rizzo on his new album ‘Ornament of an Imposter’.
Thanks again for all the love and good wishes, I truly appreciate your support. It’s a real honor to know that people are being moved by the songs and getting such enjoyment from the music.
Happy 2008 and keep your sunny side up!