Gemma Hayes

Gemma Hayes

Is there anything better than getting to travel to another country to film with musicians there? Not when one of those artists is Gemma Hayes. During Kilkenny Roots Festival in May 2024, Hayes joined The Influences in Kilkenny and recorded her song At Constant Speed and two covers of Sparklehorse’s Sunshine and Jackson Browne’s These Days.

‘Mark Linkous brought such life and depth to the simplest of scenarios.’

Gemma Hayes was friends with Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous, and they had a mutual admiration for each other’s music: “Sunshine is one of my favourite Sparklehorse songs. It’s a great example of how Mark Linkous brought such life and depth to the simplest of scenarios like lying on the grass. His imagination had a childlike purity while at the same time taking the listener to a rusty, broken place. Truly unique.”

Hayes also features in THIS IS SPARKLEHORSE; a feature length music documentary. ‘A cult and hugely influential figure in the alternative music scene, the critically-acclaimed Linkous had a dramatic life that saw him battle with drug and alcohol addiction, paralysis, and debilitating mental illness that resulted in his eventual suicide.’ You can rent the film on Vimeo.

Things are bound to be improving these days.

“Jackson Browne wrote this song when he was 16! It has the weight and depth of someone who had lived and experienced a hell of a lot. It’s a joy to play in a plucking pattern on the guitar. Another reason why I chose this song is because it takes the listeners on a journey, it’s conversational in its tone.”

It’s funny how things work out.

Gemma Hayes’ new album is set for release in September 2024, and if the first four songs I’ve heard off it are anything to go by, it’s going to be worth every second of the wait since her previous album Bones + Longing from ten years ago.

Last week she shared some words online about the years past and it’s too good not to share here: “A few years ago, for a combination of reasons known and unknown to me, I sort fell into a sad place. A hopeless, helpless, sort of a free fall. During that time I had a very vivid dream. In my dream I lived underground in a cramped apartment, the walls were made of bare breeze blocks and my view outside my window was of a dark underground car park. There was a knock on the door and when I opened it, Bruce Springsteen and his mother were standing there. He said he was playing a show in town and wanted to spend a little time with me before the show. I could see by his eyes that he understood my pain, he was kindness and compassion in human form.”

“I welcomed them both into my home. I was a bit embarrassed as the place was a mess and I was a mess. He said he didn’t care and just wanted to sit with me. He asked if I was ready to leave the apartment and I said no, not yet, but that his kindness made me want to try at the very least. He was okay with that. It was a great dream and I used it as my first stepping stone to get to a better place. It took a few years and his music played a big part in me finding my way back to my own music and voice again.”

At Constant Speed was written on a Juno keyboard and not meant for guitar at all. I wanted to see how it would work in a more folk setting. It’s in keeping with the other two songs for my session in so far as it deals with loss and nostalgia.”

The Influences in Ireland.

In August 2023 and May 2024, The Influences traveled to Kilkenny, Ireland, to film sessions during Kilkenny Arts Festival and Kilkenny Roots Festival. Over the course of three weekends, I filmed 23 sessions, with acts on the festival’s line up, and other Irish musicians that I admire. A lot more will follow in the weeks and months to come. So, please subscribe and keep coming back! Find all Irish sessions here.

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Sunshine (Sparklehorse)
Tidal | Apple Music

These Days (Jackson Browne)
Tidal | Apple Music

Gemma Hayes

Apple Music


Filmed by Matthijs van der Ven & David Lawson Froggatt
Edited by Matthijs van der Ven.
Audio recorded & mixed by Matthijs van der Ven.

Kilkenny Roots Festival
Pembroke Hotel
Kilkenny, Ireland

David Lawson Froggatt
Kilkenny Roots Festival
Rollercoaster Records
Sheena Madden

There is no better way to discover music than watching great musicians cover the songs they love. The Influences has been producing these videos ever since 2008.

Read more.

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