Spirit in the sky

Gemma Hayes is on a roll, com­pos­ing her first film sound­track and tak­ing part in a world­wide cam­paign for women’s equal­ity. ‘I’m def­i­nitely happy to be older,’ she tells Lau­ren Murphy

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

GEMMA HAYES sinks into a comfy arm­chair by the sun-streaked win­dow of a Dublin ho­tel. It’s safe to say that she is con­tent right now, though it took a while for her to get to this point. Ten years and three al­bums have passed since the re­lease of her de­but,

Night on My Side, and while the record was an aus­pi­cious start to the Tip­per­ary woman’s ca­reer – it bagged a Mer­cury Mu­sic Prize nom­i­na­tion – it hasn’t all been plain sail­ing.

“I’m def­i­nitely happy to be 10 years older,” she says, sip­ping a sparkling water as she mulls over the last decade. “I’ve mel­lowed out a lot, so I like me bet­ter now, per­son­ally. Ca­reer­wise, I had great fun and it was a great buzz, but age-wise, I was just really not happy for some rea­son, per­son­ally. So I can’t sep­a­rate the two. Things were bril­liant, but there was a lot of ex­pec­ta­tion and I was mis­er­able as a per­son. Now, all that stuff is gone and I’m really happy as a per­son.

“Cre­atively, I’m hap­pier too, be­cause I’ve got more balls: if I want to do some­thing, I’m just go­ing to do it. Back then, I was strug­gling with want­ing to be ac­cepted by peo­ple who I looked up to; think­ing that their opin­ion, their thoughts, their taste was more im­por­tant than my own. “That stuff doesn’t mat­ter any­more.” Th­ese days, the gen­tle, soft-spo­ken Hayes is a woman who knows her own mind. In­ci­den­tally, those two things – fem­i­nin­ity and in­de­pen­dence – have taken up a good deal of her time in 2012. Firstly, there’s her involvement with Half the Sky: Turn­ing Op­pres­sion into Op­por­tu­nity for Women World­wide – a women’s rights cam­paign, based on the 2009 book of the same name, which aims to raise aware­ness of women’s is­sues through dif­fer­ent me­dia. Hayes joined the drive, along with artists such as Sh­eryl Crow, Ali­cia Keys, Em­my­lou Har­ris and No­rah Jones, and her song Sor­row Be Gone was in­cluded in the re­cent 30 Songs/30 Days project.

“I’m part of the Na­tional Women’s Or­gan­i­sa­tion, and things like that, but in­stead of mouthing off about it, I’d rather just sup­port causes and put money into things,” she ex­plains.

“When the peo­ple in­volved in Half the Sky heard that I was in­volved in that kind of stuff, they con­tacted me and just asked if I’d put for­ward a song as part of this com­pi­la­tion, and that all the pro­ceeds would go to­ward help­ing women. So it was a no-brainer for me. Be­cause you and I both know that in the world that we live in, if big celebri­ties get be­hind some­thing, more peo­ple will know about it. When I saw the list of full-on big names that were in­volved with

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