premiere: gemma covers brandy, i wanna be down
The New York duo reimagine Norwood’s 1994 classic.
Electronic duo Gemma came into existence last year after producer (Erik Gundel) and musician (Felicia Douglass) turned casual catch-ups into a formal project. Having bumped into each other at various shows over the past five years - Douglass has worked with the likes of Toro Y Moi and Ava Luna - the two decided to sit down and rethink the way R&B is done. Collectively admiring artists from Timbaland to Max Tundra, the pair wanted to create a new school of electronic soul based around Felicia's pillowy vocals and Gundel's obscure, sample-led sounds. So they did, winning critical acclaim for debut As Ever from Stereogum, FACT and the New York Times. Ready to round off 2016 in style, the pair now take a look at Brandy's iconic I Wanna Be Down, turning Keith Crouch's mid-tempo, synth-led smash into a squelchy, strange, unpredictable production. To listen to Gemma's vocals is to be transported from the past, to the present, to the future, all at the same time.
"I Wanna Be Down has been a long time favourite of mine," Felicia tells i-D. "The lyrics are so straightforward and relatable. R&B was big in my household and I was lucky to have an older sister who would let me sift through her extensive tape collection - we did share a room after all! Brandy, Mary J Blige, SWV, Aaliyah… I was a sponge."
Get down with I Wanna Be Down and experience the song like you've never heard it before.
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Photography Anna Li Sian