As the almighty fivesome known as Girls Aloud once declared: “All I want is something new.”
Gemini knows something about that.
The 26-year-old English multihypenate (singer, songwriter, producer, DJ — you name it, he’ll do it) was only just beginning to bubble up within the electronic music scene five years ago. He remixed a string of dubstep-inspired EPs. He crafted remixes for acts like Kelis (“Brave”), Lana Del Rey (“Born To Die”) and Emeli Sandé (“My Kind of Love”). He appeared on Zane Lowe‘s BBC radio show and DJed at radio festivals.
And then, he disappeared.
I’d continue to tell his story, but he does it better himself in a note published yesterday on his Facebook, announcing the release of his debut record: Wanderlust (out Sept. 21), a collection of songs released four years (and four unheard albums) after his last release, 2012’s Mercury EP.
“Truth be told I had written four albums during the time I was inactive. I can’t express enough how much I wanted to give you guys new music but I simply wasn’t happy with it. It was a time when the electronic dance music landscape was changing in a big way. I didn’t want to trend-hop to new genres and I didn’t want to repeat myself infinitely. When I first discovered the world of dubstep – I felt strongly that there was an opportunity to do something bold & different and the result of that urge was Blue. I just wasn’t inspired by the environment and for that reason, I decided I needed to switch off for a while,” Gemini explains.
It’s too important (and, well, pretty relatable) not to get the full story, so let’s push onward:
“Following Mercury, I really struggled to find purpose in life. I didn’t enjoy writing music and I couldn’t grasp what was missing. Following a state of depression – in 2014 I decided that something had to change. Subsequently, I found love which resulted in frequent travels to Scandinavia. I fell in love with the clean air, healthy outdoor activities, and the sparse population. Upon entering the wilderness for the first time, I felt a very close connection to nature – it was liberating. The more I dared to explore the unknown, the more inspired I became and slowly but surely I started to write music again.
Since then I have climbed volcanos, walked across glaciers, watched the sunrise unfold in front of forgotten civilisations, got lost many times, grown a keen passion for photography and film, flown in a helicopter through the arctic circle, driven through deserts, found the northern lights, travelled 250,000 miles across the world, found an incredibly talented songwriting partner and an awesome manager, I’ve grown a love for the environment and become a vegetarian.
The result of all of this – Wanderlust. It represents a journey into the unknown in search of something new. It paints a positive picture of experiences, culture, landscapes and much more. Despite the negative outlook on the world that the media is so keen to portray – I feel the world is mostly good. I’d love this album to act as a source of inspiration for to others to travel, preserve our fragile ecosystem and give a voice to the good in this world.”
It’s no secret that the electronic music scene (at least, the small portion represented on radio) feels insular and formulaic. Beat drop. “Trop-pop.” Smoke blasts. Ecstasy. There is a time and place for sweaty bangers — specifically 2:30 AM, several gin and tonics deep on a Saturday night — but Wanderlust is a different beast.
“I’m searching for something, something new…”
This is a “time out from the world” kind of record — but the whole point is to dive deeper into the world and set off on an adventure.
Logging out and looking up feels like a true test of will these days, but once the chorus of opening track “Time To Share” first hits, you’ll almost surely get as swept up in the aural escape as I did. (Okay, I possibly teared up.)
“I take midnight walks when I cannot sleep
I see those stars reflecting, like diamonds out of reach
And I know you’re the one, the only one for me
So I’ll take the roads that bring me home back safe eventually…”
This album feels as thrilling and rejuvenating as the experiences detailed in Gemini’s words above, and as eager to share those stories. It’s mindful of the emotional capabilities of electronica, and rich with soaring vocals from Gemini who, at times, recalls Death Cab For Cutie‘s Ben Gibbard. And tying it all together? An array of hooks that feel distinctly Scandi-pop in nature, a la Donkeyboy.
Wanderlust is impressive, emotional and, more importantly, inspiring. (That gorgeous album artwork above tells the whole story, really.)
Push play, and walk outside. Unless you’re stuck indoors. Then just close your eyes and let go.
Wanderlust was released on September 21. (iTunes)