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Before she straddled the border between electronica and pop/rock with songs like "They," Jem Griffiths began the roundabout road to songstress stardom in Cardiff, Wales, where the singer was born and raised. She later attended Sussex University, balancing her course work with an emerging interest in music. Although still enrolled at Sussex, Griffiths became a talent scout for local DJs and helped promote the city's club events; she also helped launch the electronica imprint Marine Parade while rubbing shoulders with Lo Fidelity Allstars and breakbeat techno producer Adam Freeland. After dropping her last name and moving back home, Jem began building tracks on her own, as well as fine-tuning her voice.
Not content to stay in one place, Jem relocated to London with demos in hand. There, she collaborated with producer Guy Sigsworth (picking up a writing credit for the Madonna track "Nothing Fails" in the process) before landing in America and hooking up with hip-hop producer Ge-Ology and programming whiz Yoad Nevo (Bond, Sophie Ellis-Bextor). Together, they tweaked Jem's music into an amalgam of soft electronica and soothing, Dido-like vocals. Such an appealing sound found an audience in early 2002, when radio DJ Nic Harcourt -- an employee at L.A.'s taste-making KCRW station and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic -- began spinning the breezy Jem track "Finally Woken." This exposure led to a deal with ATO Records, which issued Jem's introductory EP, It All Starts Here, in autumn of the following year.
A full-length effort entitled Finally Woken appeared in March 2004, and the hauntingly appealing "They" (that featured a sample from the Swingle Singers' adaptation of a Johann Sebastian Bach composition) found success on both sides of the Atlantic, even peaking at number six in the U.K.
Jem's music subsequently found its way onto a number of movies and TV shows, and she returned in 2008 with her second effort, Down to Earth. Included on the album was the single "Amazing," which was also featured on the soundtrack to the Sex & the City movie.
By 2009, Jem had already begun working on new songs. However, label issues between ATO and Sony left her in limbo and work on a new album stalled. Undeterred, she switched her attention to several side-projects, including releasing the digital single "Until the Morning Comes," with her brother, Glass Pear's Yestyn Griffiths. Finally, in 2012 she resumed work on her solo material, laying down tracks at Grand Master Studios in Hollywood. In 2016, Jem released her third full-length album, Beachwood Canyon, featuring the title track single. ~ Andrew Leahey & Johnny Loftus
- Cardiff, South Glamorgan, Wales
- May 18, 1975
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