A Chat with Gemini Eye (15.04.20)

Gemini Eye is the project of singer, songwriter and producer Gem. Since 2014, South London-based Gemini Eye has been making records from their apartment – an abandoned ex-government building in central Croydon. Over time, as the basement of the building become a studio and rehearsal space for different artists, the recordings gained more substance resulting in the lofi debut album This Is Of Being. A few years later, Gemini Eye is back with a richly detailed second album Murdered Arc Remains. Here is our little chat with Gemini Eye about the sophomore album and some other things.

OSR: How did you choose the name ‘Gemini Eye’?

GE: In 2014 I wrote a song called ‘Gemini Eye’ which was about the fluidity of opinions – how one day you can feel one way about something and then feel completely different the next. I think this gets us into trouble sometimes, even though it’s a really unavoidable human flaw. I described it as my Gemini eye – the multiplicities inside me interpreting the same thing in different ways.

Anyway, I thought it would make a cool band name. I’m really not into astrology that much, but what is songwriting if not trying to look at things from different perspectives. It’s one big exercise in using my Gemini eye.

OSR: If you had to define your sound in one sentence what would that be?

GE: Alternative rock. This is the only thing I could come up with that wasn’t deeply embarrassing.

OSR:  You’ve worked in different areas of the music industry and various collaborations.  What would you say is your favourite project to date?

GE: One of the best experiences I’ve had that I learned the most from was working as musical director for my friend Anat Ben-David’s opera art performance Kairos. It was so nice to work with an ensemble that size, with such talented musicians, and to perform it in such amazing spaces here and overseas. I have fond memories of some of the rehearsals, orchestrating and recording it over the summer of 2017.

Courtesy of Gemini Eye

OSR:  Do you think being non-binary has influenced your sound and releases?

GE: Yes, absolutely. I think being on the trans spectrum is to undergo a sort of ritualistic separation of your identity from your body and once you’ve done that, there’s no going back. You’re permanently opened up to the ways in which bodies are politicised, manipulated, controlled and commodified in an intuitive way. It was having an effect on the music even before I realised I was non-binary. Around 2013 I was wondering why I had such a largely queer listener base and I realised that was what I was expressing myself. Making the music first and then only later figuring out what you were saying with it happens more frequently than you might think. A big reason for me making art in the first place is because it helps me figure out what my deal is.

OSR: Do you think enough awareness is being placed on non-binary identities?

GE: I think too much attention is given to an over-simplified, depoliticised notion of non-binaryness. It serves to strengthen negative attitudes from people politically predisposed to hate any sort of deviation from heteronormativity. I view my non-binaryness as a total rejection of the structures contemporary society uses to determine identity. I’m not sure how practically that can be promoted within that society itself? I think it requires the political context, otherwise, it’s just doomed to be commodified and depoliticised all over again turning into a totem for “weirdness”.

I guess what I want is not for non-binaryness to be “accepted” or to gain recognition as a separate concept among many, but rather for society to more broadly rewire its conception of gender as a spectrum and have non-binaryness be so self-evident it doesn’t require unique categorisation.

OSR:  Can you tell us a bit about your album Murdered Arc Remains.  What was the concept?

GE: Murdered Arc Remains is a record about language, particularly the ways it inhibits us. There are all these gaps between words that mean we can never truly express what we feel, only approximate it using the nearest words we have. Art, music, these are the things that allow us to express ourselves more subtly.

In the opening track, ‘The Devil‘, two people go on a kind of psychedelic trip and meet the devil who grants them the ability to perceive reality without the constrictions of language. The rest of the record is them desperately scrabbling around trying to rescue their humanity and get back to normal.

The record is full of people misunderstanding each other or failing to comprehend notes or letters that have been written. Even with absolute freedom, they quickly discover they need some structure in order to be able to navigate it and collaborate. The core concept of the record is the eternal bind of language. Even though it’s a kind of limitation on our human experience, it’s what allows us to conceptualise things of unimaginable complexity.

OSR: What was the recording and writing process of Murdered Arc Remains like?

GE: While I was writing this record, I was working as a studio technician at a recording studio complex in London. After closing, I’d write and record all through the night. Eventually, they found out what I’d been doing and they had to let me go, which was a bummer, but I’d recorded most of it by then so it wasn’t too bad. This is definitely the richest sounding record I’ve ever made and I was super lucky to have access to equipment like that.

OSR:  What message are you trying to get across with Murdered Arc Remains?

GE: “I’m really cool, please, please like me”, as always.

OSR:  If you had to win one million pounds what would you do with it?

GE: I’d buy a property and convert it into a recording studio and let all my friends make records for free forever.

OSR:  Pineapple on pizza – yay or nay?

GE: No, but I feel no animosity towards people who do. I would even go half and half with someone who wanted pineapple on their half. If a bit of it accidentally got on my half, I would probably even eat it just to see if maybe nowadays I do like it. I probably still wouldn’t.

OSR: How do you feel the current coronavirus lockdown has influenced musicians and their careers?

GE: I think it’s affecting all of us differently. This has proven to be a unique set of challenges that a lot of people are overcoming very creatively and thriving within. For people who make their living touring, this is completely fucked. I know so many people who’ve had their entire year destroyed by this and have had months or even years of planning go directly down the drain.

From a broader view, though, I think this has really reminded people of how valuable arts and culture are to our daily lives. I hope we remember that after everything opens up again.

OSR:  What do you think is the most important goal every person should have?

GE: To be as nice as possible to other people. To make the lives of the people around you as good as possible.

OSR:  What can we expect from Gemini Eye for the rest of 2020 and beyond?

GE: I’ve been working on a collaborative ambient record with a friend that was meant to come out this month, but now we’ve had to work remotely on it instead of meeting in the studio so I think that’s coming out early May. It’s sounding really beautiful. I think it’s going to be good lockdown listening.

I’ve also just released a new comic book, Big Old Absconded Cress World II, although I’m not sure what the logistics of mailing things out to people is right now! I think that’s all backed up internationally.

The best thing to do is follow me on Twitter because I post about everything there.

Thanks to Gemini Eye for the chat! To engage with this talented being, check Gem out on Bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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