- 23 Jul 20
Last week, Gemma Bradley released one of the most danceable tracks of the summer. As 'Obsessed' continues to bask in a remarkable reception, the young singer-songwriter and BBC Radio Ulster presenter spoke to us about her career thus far.
Gemma Bradley moved to Belfast about a week before lockdown started. "For a while I had no furniture!" the Draperstown native laughs down the line from her – now properly furnished – home in Northern Ireland's capital.
In the past couple weeks, Bradley has veritably crashed onto the scene, releasing an incredible collaboration with Dublin-based rapper Malaki, as well as her take-no-prisoners R&B/pop single 'Obsessed'. Which, by all accounts, should be the sound of the summer.
Bradley is also a presenter on BBC Radio Ulster, a project that has thankfully been able to continue during the pandemic. "I record on a microphone, and it's put together and edited. At the start, before I had furniture, I had to build a fort out of a clothes horse and my duvet, I felt like I was ten years old," she giggles. "I'm just glad that I can be a face for young black women and young black people who want to get into the creative industries, or radio. To be able to represent is really great. There's a whole kind of underground scene bubbling up here in music, and I think we're going to see a big change. Dena Anuk$a, Daniel August, JyellowL, Denise Chaila, all these artists that are not part of this stereotypical 'indie rock' sound that Ireland has become so well known for are really pushing the bar. It's so nice to be acknowledged as well."
Despite writing 'Obsessed' last summer, Bradley was unsure about when it would be released. "I was in a weird headspace where I didn't know when I would be releasing music again. I knew I needed to release something, but I didn't know if any of my music was ready to release," she reflects. "I was kind of scared to release music, but lockdown nearly forced me to release music. I was just tired of sitting and not doing anything."
Bradley is also involved in a project of female creatives from around Ireland called the X Collective. "It's so important to have that kind of community. As a solo artist, you can get a bit lonely because you're looking after a lot of those things yourself. It's just really nice to have that support and backing from fellow artists. It is like a community, and everybody needs that to help them. Even just for your mental health."
Bradley has perfected keeping competitiveness with other women out of the "From my point of view, my stuff is different to what everyone else is doing, and everyone else's is different to me. I would like to support people rather than try to compete with them," she says. "But I do feel like – especially in the industry for women in particular – I do feel like sometimes the current attitude is to try to pit female artists against each other, which is really sad. I do feel like I've had numerous conversations with other female artists who feel the same way. That's the thought in the industry, but there seems to be quite the same consensus and understanding among artists that we don't want to compete with each other. We want to see each other's success, and lift each other up. I think it's really important to do that."
Listen to 'Obsessed' below.