The title, not the most flattering one to use on such, is the lead track off of Gem Club’s EP Acid and Everything. Off-handed it seems but nothing can describe that record and this experience of writing about the band close enough than the grace captured in those words. Textually it sounds amusing, thematically it shears through layers of images, of feelings and sounds— a personal discovery.
A year after their EP, the band is looking forward to the release of its debut album Breakers via Hardly Art this September. The duo, currently based in Massachusetts, is composed of Christopher Barnes and Kristen Drymala that produce elegant piano-cello themes tinged by emblematic lyrics and Barnes’ pastoral vocals. Finally, we were able to score an interview with Christopher to somehow celebrate the EP’s anniversary plus insights about the anticipated debut.
Congratulations on the Best New Act award from The Boston Phoenix. I understand the award has been given mostly to dance acts in the past years, how was it when you finally heard you were the winners?
Christopher: Thanks very much. It did come as a surprise because there were so many talented acts that were nominated, many of whom I had considered to be more well known around the city than we are.
Probably you get this a lot but have you ever had an experience wherein someone from the crowd cried at your show? Considering the music your making, did you somehow expect it to happen at one point? Not that you wanted to make people cry, hahaha.
Christopher: I’m not sure. Someone recently asked us if we’re sad or we take pleasure in being sad and heavy all the time. I don’t find Gem Club to be particularly sad, or at least I’m not deliberately setting out to try to be sad. I think that is how I communicate.
With Acid and Everything, I am one of the people who have thought that it was one of the most underrated records last year. Actually it is surprising it didn’t get much press right off the bat. Was there a point when you guys felt nervous about it before it started to pick up?
Christopher: I wasn’t ever nervous about it because I never really thought I would do anything with the recordings in the first place. I never thought about where it could go. When I started writing Acid and Everthing I wasn’t even sure that I was going to press it. I put some of the songs up on Myspace and a week or so later Delicious Scopitonewrote, asked if they could put the songs up on their blog. From there the record started to gain some interest. I’m really very thankful for all the places that it’s been and the people that have connected with it.
One of the most rewarding quality of the songs in Acid and Everything is how vague the lyrics are compared to its musicality. The words in these songs are like poems than a regular, standard song. Has this been a constant choice between the two of you in creating music, and possibly will be expected in the debut?
Christopher: I don’t feel that it’s important for everyone to get the same meaning or feeling from the lyrics. I like the fact that there are different ways that people can interpret them. The songs on Breakers are very much an extension of the work that is on the EP. There are a lot of pairings on the new album, songs that are related to one another.
For some artists, it is a rewarding experience when people in the audience sing along as they play them. What was the most moving, intimated gig have you had so far?
Christopher: Last year we were asked to play a benefit to help raise money for Beth Israel Hospital here in Boston. That show was particularly meaningful to me.
Many people love your EP and we cannot wait for the debut. Any teaser of what Breakers will sound like?
Christopher: Breakers takes its time. There’s some percussion on this record, and other instrumentation. I get to sing with my friend Ieva on a few tracks. I’m very glad to work with her. In a lot of ways the new record is like the EP, only grown up.