July 31, 2013

IconSinger songwriter Gem Andrews on music and Muma Moonshine

For the past four years something odd has happened in a sleepy town in County Durham and this year is to be no different. From the 2nd to the 4th of August 2013, beautiful music will be heard against a backdrop of sea and sand, straw bales will rustle gently in the wind, and lgbt musicians and artists will descend in tents and campervans to have a real good shindig. What is this odd occurrence I hear you say and how can I get a ticket? Well I caught up with Newcastle based musician sensation, Gem Andrews, to talk about her own music and insider tips for the festival itself.

Gem Andrews is a critically acclaimed artist in her own right, she launched her 2012 album ‘Scatter’ last year at the Cluny 2 in Newcastle. I was lucky enough to discover her music at the Women’s Zone at Newcastle’s 2012 Pride and have been a fan ever since. Her music is beautiful, melodic and heart wrenching. It’s music that’s good for the soul and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Gem has already toured in Europe, her fan base growing all of the time and in 2014 she is planning a tour of Canada and the US, including the NXNE Showcase in Toronto. So catching her at this year’s Muma Moonshine will be a real treat!


Describing her music as “Alt. Country/Americana/Dark Folk.”, Gem went on to tell me that she, “started playing guitar at about 6 years old, and writing my own lyrics at 14…However, it took until I was 20 until I could get up in front of an audience and play a song!”

“It often taken me six months to write one song!”

My personal favourite on her debut album is ‘Alright’, the lyrics send shivers down my spine every time I hear the song. I wanted to know what inspired Gem and how goes about writing her lyrics, “Reading and listening to how other songwriters do it. I love the songs of Leonard Cohen and Kate & Anna McGarrigle and try to only write lyrics that are totally necessary…which is why it often taken me six months to write one song!”

Luckily for us this lengthy time frame hasn’t put Gem off future music releases, “I’m working on a new EP at the moment. Five new songs that I’m hoping to put out on Vinyl by the end of the year.” Phew! Good news for us music fans. Although Gem so far claims that she has avoided any comedy disasters, she did reveal her music guilty pleasure to me, “Country-Rap. It’s a fairly new genre, there’s a lot of it on YouTube!” I’ll take your word for it Gem but if anyone fancies branching out… you heard it here first!

“Surrounded by friends and musicians that I love.”

Gem said that her best gig was, “Probably my album launch, at the Cluny 2 last year. I was surrounded by friends and musicians that I love.” Certainly Muma Moonshine reflects this desire to share wonderful music in intimate surroundings. I was lucky enough to be part of the audience at last year’s festival and the first thing I noticed was how different it was to other festivals I had been and other lgbt focused events I had attended. There was a real inclusive family vibe, everyone was incredibly friendly and more than willing to share straw bales with strangers and join in campfire sing-along’s.

Gem filled me in on the aims of the festival and who established it in the first place, “Muma Moonshine is a small but perfectly formed music festival for women, based in County Durham. It runs annually. It was established by musicians Gem Andrews, Sarah Van Jellie and Nicky Rushton in 2008. We’re all about supporting women artists and providing a LGBT friendly and safe space for performers, guests and their families.”

Fabulous line up

There is a fabulous line up too, “This year we are very very excited to have musician Fiona Sally Miller come up from London to play, we also have Beccy Owen, The Camp Vamps, Iceni, Mush, Hannabiell and the Ladies of Midnight Blue and many many more (more info on their respective websites). We have a very full, very fantastic line up of amazingly talented women.”

“genuinely excited”

Although Gem claimed not to have any favourites at this year’s festival, “I am genuinely excited about all of the live music this year. Lots of our artists have new albums and EP’s to promote, so I’m looking forward to hearing all of the new material!” She did admit to a few regulars who she looks forward to seeing every year. “Mush are a brilliant band from the North East. They’re made up of Nicky Rushton and Sarah Van Jellie who I run the festival with. I must have seen them play a thousand times, but they still have the ability to totally capture their audience. They’re pretty spellbinding; I know that a lot of our regular campers will be excited to hear them too. And of course the Camp Vamps, who headline the Saturday night – they’re such a great band, they always get everybody in the field dancing to the early hours!”

Gem also admitted that, “The perk of running a festival is that I get to book myself!” It’s a perk for the audience too; the festival wouldn’t be the same without the melodic tunes from Gem’s guitar.

“waterproof matches”

However, there are more important things to worry about than the actual music at the festival. For example, what should people bring? “Wellies, wet wipes and water bottles! Oh and maybe something to swim in, as Muma Moonshine is only a ten minute walk from a secluded beach!” As for Gem, she never goes camping without waterproof matches. So take heed from this sensible advice and make sure to bring some!


If you are interested in finding out more about the festival and attending, you had best be quick! This year’s festival runs from 2nd August  to 4th August. For more information, search ‘Muma Moonshine’ Festival on Facebook or even email them directly at mumamoonshine@gmail.com. Also, remember to visit Gem Andrew’s website to find out more information about her music and future gigs.


Comments are closed.