Gemma Lacey

The Wanderer

Gemma Lacey
Cat power field.jpg

Chan Marshall or Cat Power as she’s known to many is back with a beautiful new record full of her signature heart stopping songs. Wanderer is an apt name for a record created by someone who has travelled as much as she does. We asked her about her favorite places she’s seen and discovered her most treasured place is closer to all of us than we realized.

I’ve lived in Australia, Italy and France briefly and then yes all around the edges of the United States. The places that used to resonate with me when I was younger have since changed. Tucson meant a lot to be in my early 20’s, it was  a place where I felt I could start my life over, change my name to Beth -whatever. Where I could feel safe and grounded on planet earth and in America- enjoy that small time nature.

Every place I have discovered on earth that I have been to has it’s own colour and shape in my mind, very extraordinarily different from another place.

Somewhere in Japan could be green and have a cylindrical feeling with the history and architecture. Like the food and the old town.

Then I would go to South Africa to the bright coloured rowhouses and the culture and people outside of that area, the nature, the sky, the hills and terrain. That palette for me is more slate, orange and dust with sea air. Then there are the Berber Mountains, I think seeing those, there’s so much red.  It’s all made from mud, the walls, the streets, the houses, that was a very mystical experience for me.

Then there’s Brazil. In the Saint Teresa area in the north of Rio, up the hills and in the middle of the night there, there’s music and drinking and people and just like people dancing in the street- with sweat on their faces- smiling.

It’s not a case of me liking a place the most but that all these places evoke so many different senses for me so it’s hard to pick a favourite.

In South Africa, I had a lover there who lived in one of the row houses, he played jazz saxophone. I loved waking up there and making coffee and going to the market, it felt so safe. Seeing the granny there with little kids. I used to paint a lot and take Hasselblad polaroids and there’s this woman that I painted years ago. They used to drill gems and she had gems in her teeth- these rubies and now it’s like everybody’s got crazy stuff going on with their teeth but back then it was so new and beautiful to me.

Before I found out I was pregnant ( I was pregnant and didn’t know it) I went back to South Africa and I went to Cape Town it’s magical, the history is enormous- you can feel it- I mean I can. Africa in general, starting at the bottom and going to the top, being in the bush in Zimbabwe or Tanzanier, In Mozambique, just being on the ground in the bush for example in nature. Sure you can get that anywhere but in industrialised countries you’re on the ground in nature sure, but close by there’s a Burger King. In these places that I’ve been lucky to witness, they just resonate simplistically you feel at home on earth-it’s a miraculous feeling- just calm. I like to be  anywhere where there’s nature I guess.

You really enjoy being in nature?

I do, I think we all do. Because I was a kid I enjoyed urban life as well, digging through dumpsters, stealing from convenience stores- just being a dumb kid. But you know the nature always had a an overpowering feeling of balance for me- like I knew my place in nature. I don’t know how else to describe it, things are so easy there for your mind and spirit. Physically you have oxygen, there’s the sun, there’s the shade there’s the water, the grass, the desert, the dirt. I think it’s important to us as a species to contemplate.

Can you pick one place that stands out of all these?

Probably my favourite place would be when I lived in these tobacco fields in the forest where I collected moss from the creek and would lay it down and make a path. You know where you make one by sweeping the pine needles away and I’d lay down in all this moss. That is probably my favorite place I’ve been in my whole life, from when I was about 10/11. That place has no name it doesn’t exist, these places come and go.