[Interview] GEMS Share What It Really Means To ‘Kill The One You Love’

GEMS have been on constant rotation ever since I discovered them this past October on Spotify’s Evening Chill playlist, even making their way to my number one slot for Album of The Year for 2015. The DC duo – comprised of Lindsay Pitts and Clifford John Usher – now call Los Angeles home but not without bringing the chill of fall and winter with them into their music. After the success of their 2013 Medusa EP, the band took some time to craft the perfect album, resulting in the stellar work of their newly released debut, Kill The One You Love via Carpark Records.

Perhaps it’s the tales of existential longing that pulled me in or the way they’ve managed to capture the essence of what it truly means to feel empty; searching for something to fill the void in the form of a warm body. Whatever it is that hooked me, I’m a listener for life now.

Singer Lindsay Pitts recently chatted with us about their stellar album, creative processes and what we can look forward to in 2016!

I have fallen head over heels in love with this record. Let’s get straight to the title, Kill The One You Love. I know you guys have been asked about it a zillion times by now and obviously you can’t take it literally. I actually had a dream a while back of someone I used to love dying and it kind of eased the ache of missing them, oddly enough. What does “kill the one you love” embody for you? Did it just click randomly or was it all thought out after the album was finished?

The phrase kinda came to Cliff in a flash. We later Googled it and realized that it was a quote from Fight Club. But yeah it has these Buddhist vibes of letting go, and the acceptance of death, that sometimes you have to kill a part of yourself in order to let a new chapter of your existence here on earth unfold.

I love the whole concept of the album as being a story of “existential longing” and how, especially in this digital age, it’s so easy to observe our peers displaying the best parts of their lives for the world to see while we sit back and wonder if we’re really living life to the fullest. I’ve been struggling with this notion myself lately, and your music beautifully expresses those dark moments of having everything slip out of your hands while reaching out in slow motion for something you may not ever obtain, if that makes sense. Are your lyrics autobiographical? If so, where do you draw the line if something is too personal to share?

We write from personal experience, but we still have our secrets. We’d probably reach more people if we put all the gritty details out there.

The music industry is ever-changing yet some feel it’s the beginning of a slow decline. What are your thoughts on the industry as of now? Would you say it has changed for the better?

Obviously the music industry isn’t what it was in the 70’s. But it’s only in the past hundred years that music became something people really made a living from anyhow. I think the music industry is constantly changing, just like everything in life. It’s important to be aware of that stuff but to not get too caught up in it.

Would you mind sharing your creative process? What goes into the conception of a track for you?

We’re always trying to distill the the act of songwriting into a step-by-step process. But usually it’s not so cut-and-dry. I generally come up with some chords and melody and Cliff will mix it up and add some production and lyrics. Having that seed of emotion might be the most important part of writing a song; that drive that makes you want to see a song through til the end to see what it becomes. When we don’t feel a need to divide our roles means the music is flowing and we are tapped into something bigger than ourselves.

I heard Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” the other day and immediately thought of you guys (which would make a great cover, by the way!) What are your thoughts on all the comparisons you’ve been getting? As a writer, I never know how artists feel about that sort of thing yet at the same time, comparisons usually blend in with influences.

That just made my day. I genuinely love that song, probably on my list of top 10 songs I wish I had written. The scope of music is so wide that no matter what, an artist has to draw some comparisons or people wouldn’t even bother to listen. But to have a long career you really have to carve out your own niche. There is a balance to being part of a musical dialogue and making something timeless and long-lasting, which is what we aim to do.

Tell us your upcoming plans for 2016! Any new singles/videos or tours we should look out for?

All of the above! I can’t wait to share the new music we’ve been working on.

We’re always curious to know what our favorites are listening to. What are your top 5 songs at the moment?

I’m glad this question wasn’t about top songs of all time which would be nearly impossible to answer. These are some recent things…

– Enya – “Caribbean Blue”
– Kiiara – “Gold”
– A$AP Rocky – “LSD”
– Sting- “Fortress Around Your Heart”
– Justin Bieber – “Sorry”
Kill The One You Love is available now here.
Tina Roumeliotis

Tina Roumeliotis

Tina is the founding editor of The Daily Listening. She's also a professional music nerd for BUZZNET. You'll most likely find her where she finds most of her inspiration: introverting in her bedroom with her music collection and a pair of headphones.