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It was sheer force of will, and no little talent, that bought Irish singer/songwriter Gemma Hayes her first record deal with French electro imprint Source Records, as the singer had spent the best part of half a decade working and performing around the capital's premier music venues. While her debut EPs were relatively spare and folksy affairs, her label's legacy came to bear on subsequent recordings, where Hayes demonstrated a proclivity for chilled electronics and swampy, My Bloody Valentine-style shoegaze effects alongside the subdued melancholy of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. This cross-genre appeal would see Hayes mentioned regularly alongside female contemporaries Beth Orton and PJ Harvey and earn her a Mercury Music Prize nomination in 2002.
Gemma Hayes was born into a musical family with seven siblings in the secluded village of Ballyporeen, Tipperary, in the southwest of Ireland. The claustrophobia of small-town life on the one hand and boarding school on the other led Hayes to immerse herself in music and poetry as a teenager. Enrolling at university in Dublin upon graduation, Hayes took up the guitar and continued writing. Eventually, she made the decision to drop out of college and pursue music full-time, supporting herself by working at a launderette and performing solo gigs around the city by night. Assembling a band to flesh out her sound, Hayes was approached by EMI's dance music imprint Source Records and signed a multi-album deal in 2001. She was just 23 years old.
That same year saw the release of Hayes' first EP, entitled 4.35 AM, which along with 2002's Work to a Calm saw the singer tentatively dip her feet into the world of recording. Interest in the EPs was sufficient to create a buzz for her debut album. Turning down the opportunity of working with the label's preferred producer, Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck), Hayes instead chose to work with Mercury Rev's Dave Fridmann and her then-boyfriend, Dave Odlum (Kíla, the Frames). Fridmann's influence allowed her to realize the shoegaze and noise rock textures that the EPs had only hinted at. The resulting album, Night on my Side, was released in the U.K. and Ireland in May of 2002, charting at number eight in her home country and in the U.K. Top 100. A slightly reworked version of the album was released in the U.S. the following April.
Night on my Side proved a critical success, and it was just edged out by Ms. Dynamite's A Little Deeper in the race for 2003's Mercury Music Prize. Yet Night on my Side had proved neither the commercial nor artistic success that the artist had planned, and Hayes decided to take an extended hiatus from the music business before planning her next move. In the meantime, she co-wrote the track "Hazy" with Adam Duritz for Counting Crows' 2003 live album, New Amsterdam. Duritz expressed his appreciation by referencing Hayes in the lyrics of a track entitled "Washington Square" from the 2008 album Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings.
Hayes returned in 2005 and, with the help of Joey Waronker (Beck), self-produced The Roads Don't Love You. Lead single "Undercover" was co-written with Jellyfish supremo Roger Manning, Jr., piercing the Irish Singles Chart at number 38 and hitting number 60 in the U.K., while noted influence Lisa Germano added guest violin to the album. The Roads Don't Love You was an overall more accessible effort than its predecessor, and it reached number 13 in the Irish Album Chart, but it wasn't enough to dissuade Source from canceling her contract the following year.
In late 2006, the now Los Angeles-based Hayes announced that she would work on a third album with Dave Odlum. To be released on her own specially created Gemma Hayes Music label, The Hollow of Morning took over a year to create, a torturous process that was more akin to guest producer Kevin Shields (of My Bloody Valentine) than Hayes. Other producers included Bell X1 frontman Paul Noonan and singer/songwriter Joe Chester. The Hollow of Morning debuted at number 12 in the Irish Album Charts upon its release in May of 2008. A worldwide release with Nashville indie label ATC Records followed later that month.
Gemma Claire Hayes (born 11 August 1977, Ballyporeen, Tipperary, Ireland) is an Irish singer-songwriter and member of The Cake Sale.
Early life 
One of eight children, Hayes was surrounded by music from an early age, both from any of her seven siblings' bedrooms and being played by her father, a keyboardist in a local band. By the time she left for boarding school in County Limerick, Hayes was already proficient at piano and found that the music used to counter the boredom of living in a small village. Although she enrolled at University in Dublin, Hayes soon left to concentrate on music, working part-time in a laundrette during the day and playing the city's circuit at night.
Music career 
Hayes signed to the French independent record label, Source Records in 2001, and issued the 4.35am EP and the Work to a Calm EP before releasing her debut album, Night on my Side, in 2002. In 2002 she won Best Female Singer at the Hot Press Awards. The album was nominated for the 2003 Mercury Prize but lost out to Ms. Dynamite's, A Little Deeper. After touring Night on my Side Hayes took two years out from the music industry; "All I do know is that I didn't want to listen to music at all. I stopped listening to the radio. It was like I'd overdosed on music".
In late 2005, Hayes returned with her second album, The Roads Don't Love You, and picked up the Best Irish Female Artist award at the 2006 Meteor Ireland Music Awards, while completing a small tour of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Shortly after this she left Source Records parent company EMI-Virgin as EMI-Virgin was undergoing an overhaul of artists and bands. During this time Hayes co-wrote the song "Hazy" with Adam Duritz.
On 14 August 2006 Hayes announced that she had begun work on her third album in the Black Box Studios in France, to be produced by her former guitarist, David Odlum. Hayes posted demo versions of a few of the songs on MySpace during recording, including "Out of Our Hands", "Home", and "This Is What You Do".
Hayes' third album The Hollow of Morning was independently-released on 2 May 2008 in Ireland, and debuted at number 12 in the Irish Albums Chart. Following this she signed a recording contract with the United States record label, Second Motion where The Hollow of Morning was released in the US on 30 September 2008. Second Motion works with Daniel Lanois, Adam Franklin of Swervedriver, Brian Vander Ark and others.
Whilst on her 2008 UK tour, Hayes announced that she planned to release an acoustic album by the end of 2008, thought the album has never surfaced. During this time during some promotional work and touring Hayes confirmed that she would start recording her fourth album in August 2008.
In January 2009, it was announced that Hayes had been nominated for Best Irish Female, at the 2009 Meteor Ireland Music Awards, which took place on 17 March 2009 in Dublin. She lost out to Imelda May. On 13 February 2009 she released her new music video for the song "Home" on Myspace; the track was from her 2008 release The Hollow of Morning. On 19 February 2009 she performed at the Oscar Wilde party in Los Angeles, California. The annual event takes place days before the Oscars, and celebrates the best of Irish popular culture.
On 22 February 2009 it was stated on her website that her new EP Oliver will be available for purchase on 9 March 2009. It was subsequently announced on Myspace on 9 March that the EP's release had been delayed. A new track called "Ghost" appeared on Myspace the same day. On 13 March 2009 Oliver was released on iTunes. On 14 April 2009 it was announced that Hayes began to write new material for the next album.
On 3 September 2009, Hayes performed at the 2012 stage at the 2009 Århus Festival. Her set-list featured new songs "Waiting for You" and "Shock to the System". On 20 October 2009, she confirmed that she was recording new material in France in the Blackbox studios.
On 19 November 2009 began a short European tour with performances in Austria, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. During these tour dates Hayes played new songs including "Tokyo", "Waiting for You" and "Shock to the System". At her gig in Cork on 3 December, she performed a cover of Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting". On 22 December 2009, Hayes released her cover of "Cloudbusting" for free from her website.
In March 2010, Hayes featured on Ceol 2010, a special album in the Irish language. Gemma previously appeared on Ceol 2007. On the Ceol 2010 album, Hayes' song "Rith me go Crich" appeared alongside Bell X1, Kila and The Walls.
Hayes originally stated on Irish music site Muzu TV that her yet to be titled fourth album would be released in September 2010.. However, in October 2010 on Tom Dunne's radio show on Newstalk 106-108, she said that her new album will not be released until early 2011. In an interview with Irish music website State.ie she confirmed that the album would be released in either late February or March.
Hayes wrote some original music for the 2010 movie, Janie Jones, by writer/director David M. Rosenthal. Abigail Breslin sings and plays her music. The three songs in the film will included "Just a Game", "Fight for Me" and "Hurricane".
Hayes returned to live performances in late 2010. She launched her autumn tour in Cork City, Ireland were she performed some new tracks which included "Noise", "Hurricane" and "Beside Me". On 13 February 2011, Hayes confirmed on RTE Radio 1's Today with Pat Kenny that her fourth studio album would be released sometime in May 2011, and that she would tour Ireland in early summer 2011. It was later confirmed on gemmahayes.com that the fourth album is due for May release with a single due earlier as recording in Ireland and France neared completion. Gemma confirmed that 'Shock to the System' will appear on the album. On 15 March 2011, she confirmed that a track called "Noise" will feature on the album. On 10 April 2011, she confirmed that the new album will be released on 27 May 2011 in Ireland. The album will be called Let It Break.
Hayes confirmed that she has written two songs for Michael Uppendahl (director of US TV series Mad Men, Weeds, and Becker) for a forthcoming film directed by him.
On 11 October 2011 the soundtrack to Janie Jones was released in Europe and Australia. The album features three tracks written by Hayes. It also features the studio version of "Waiting for You" which she played as a promo track and on her tours throughout 2010 and 2011.
Hayes revealed in an interview with Evening Echo's 'Downtown' published on 16 February 2012 that she has recorded a version of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game", which is to feature in a future episode of US Teen drama Pretty Little Liars. The song also featured on her 2012 tour playlist.
It has been confirmed that Hayes will appear on Paul Noonan's debut solo album. Noonan has previously worked on Hayes' previous albums. On 1 March 2012 gemmahayes.com confirmed her cover of "Wicked Games" will appear on Pretty Little Liars on 12 March and will be available to download as a single. In June, 2012 Hayes announced that she has begun writing some new songs and plans to move back to Los Angeles.
On 30 June 2012 Hayes played the Concert At Sea festival in The Netherlands. On 15 July 2012, new songs recorded by Hayes appeared on iTunes. The new songs are part of the Velvet Ear Collection. The new tracks include "All The Kids Go" which appeared on US TV show Dance Moms, "Jet" a demo version of what later became "There's Only Love" which appeared on her Let It Break album and other tracks including "Devastated" and "Simple Life". "Simple Life" proved to be the most popular of the tracks peaking in the Irish iTunes chart at number 35 upon its debut on the chart.
On 9 August 2012, Hayes announced through an e-mail, that she is working on new material for the next album. She also confirmed she is working on a side project with David Odlum and will release a live album in 2013. She also confirmed a new tour of Ireland and the UK beginning in October. In September 2012, she was featured in a campaign called "30 Songs / 30 Days" to support Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book.
On 16 November 2012, via their official Facebook page, SPAR Ireland revealed their 2012 Christmas advertisement, featuring a Christmas themed track performed by Hayes and Jape. On 21 November 2012, Hayes confirmed to MTV that she will record her upcoming gig in Dublin's Olympia on 9 December to release it as a live album in early 2013.