Gemma Dunleavy is an artist and musician from Dublin’s North Inner City. She is mainly working in music, songwriting and performance.

She was very creative from the young age of 5 and was acquainted with dance, poetry, song and performance to different degrees ever since.

Gemma learned to dance with Olive Tucker in the Tech on North Strand and then, The College of Dance in Monkstown.

Later she went on to Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts where she studied music and sound technology.

She is currently one of the most popular upcoming artists in Ireland with a deep-rooted connection to the Five Lamps Arts Festival.

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FLA: WHERE DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM?

GEMMA: Various different places […] people around me, my family, my community, my neighbours. I’m also hugely inspired by other artists and singers and mostly artists who evolve and meander through different stages and areas. I find that the most interesting because I have a fear of being stuck doing the one thing […] I like to know that I have the opportunity to move around and change.

Gemma is often using collaboration with other artists to get inspired, like soundscapes (tracks) that she gets and uses to write her songs and create something unique.

She imagines the soundscapes as a musical movie scene, in which she is a character. She has adapted to such a method to elevate her creativity that, as she says, enables her never to dampen it, even when her mind is not fully in the creating-mode.

FLA: DO YOU SEE A DIFFERENT COMMUNITY TO WHAT IS SHOWN ON THE MEDIA?

GEMMA: I completely see past that. It’s normal to me. It’s not just normal to me, it’s very enriching, but it’s definitely had an effect on me. It shouldn’t have had to have an effect on me. I’m glad for the effect because the result of that is I have very thick skin, I know very clearly where my loyalties lie, I know what’s important to me, I have very strong values […] Growing up, I’ve had to see people that raised me with the most tender, loving care being labelled in a way that has made me so angry […] I think I had to grow up a lot quicker […] with an armour on me.

Her feelings about these issues inspired her to create her song “I was never Young but I’m not yet old” 👇

GEMMA: I have a very different hierarchy of needs […] Are you okay? Are you a good person and are you well looked after? That’s the thing that I want to know about someone when I meet them.

FLA: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR MUSIC COLLABORATORS?

GEMMA: My main collaborator is Roisín Berkley. She is a harpist from County Mayo and she is amazing. She is a traditional harpist […] We had a very conversational way of working together, where she played harp exactly how I imagined it in my head and ten times better than that.

Gemma and Roisín collaborate regularly, live and in-studio recordings and write songs together via Whatsapp.

Gemma is also friends and collaborating with Music Director and artist Hugh Mulhart.

FLA: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR MUSIC COLLABORATORS?

GEMMA: My main collaborator is Roisín Berkley. She is a harpist from County Mayo and she is amazing. She is a traditional harpist […] We had a very conversational way of working together, where she played harp exactly how I imagined it in my head and ten times better than that.

Gemma and Roisín collaborate regularly, live and in-studio recordings and write songs together via Whatsapp.

Gemma is also friends and collaborating with Music Director and artist Hugh Mulhart.

FLA: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR MUSIC COLLABORATORS?

GEMMA: My main collaborator is Roisín Berkley. She is a harpist from County Mayo and she is amazing. She is a traditional harpist […] We had a very conversational way of working together, where she played harp exactly how I imagined it in my head and ten times better than that.

Gemma and Roisín collaborate regularly, live and in-studio recordings and write songs together via Whatsapp.

Gemma is also friends and collaborating with Music Director and artist Hugh Mulhart.

FLA: WHAT’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TRADITIONAL MUSIC?

GEMMA: I love traditional music, from anywhere, because of its roots and I’m someone who is so rooted to my community and where I’m from. I’ve lived in loads of places all over the world and I feel like that nothing will ever take the townie out of me and I’m so proud that I wouldn’t want it to […] It keeps me grounded.

Traditional music has appealed to Gemma because of the roots the music innately has, which is why she likes not only Irish Traditional music, but that from all over the world.

She joined the Georgian Choir that she learned about through one of our Five Lamps Arts Festivals a couple of years back. The harmony in which they sang caught her attention and has inspired her profoundly.

GEMMA: They are very very connected to the roots and the stories and the tradition, they are not a performance-based choir […] and I went along for a few rehearsals and eventually I joined the choir.

FLA: WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF LIVING IN SUCH CREATIVE RESIDENTS’ AREA?

GEMMA: I was obsessed with Stephen Gately….there were a few times where I got brought around to his house. Oh, I was such a big Boyzone fan!

Her input on what she wanted to do originated from the fact that there was “a boy from around the corner” who was already an upcoming and popular artist.. It gave her faith in her own abilities to get into the music artists’ business.

GEMMA: Olive Tucker’s sister actually was the very first dance class I went to, she was [a] teacher. So it felt like you were in that circle and you were like ‘This is deadly! I can do this!’ You know?
.

FLA: WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF THE SOLD OUT GIG IN CORK?

GEMMA: Oh, it was incredible! […] I felt at home in Cork. It was amazing! The crowd are brilliant. The venue […], the crew there, Joe, the sound engineer, the bar people, everything there was like a home from home! I didn’t want to go home […] I felt such a connection there and I cannot wait to go back!

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RECENT ARTICLES about Gemma Dunleavy:
Irish Times: Gemma’s Love Letter to Dublin’s Inner City
The Face: Gemma Dunleavy – Dr Martens Presents

To see what Gemma’s up to, check out her Social Media Channels:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

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 The College of Dance in Monkstown

 Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts

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