From Raleigh, North Carolina Sage “Gemïny” Wesley is a recording artist who blends smooth jazz and raspy rock into his pop-soul vocals to create a distinctive sound that gets crowds moving. After taking a break from music, Gemïny returned to the scene in 2020 and started doing freelance work, recording hooks and background for various aspiring artists in an effort to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Gemïny had previously studied music composition under John Fitz at the University of South Carolina. Later, this developed into a few small gigs in the Columbia area bars where Gemïny provided keyboard and backup vocals for various bands. With recordings that have the feel of a live performance, it’s simple to hear the unfiltered emotion in each song as it tells of arguments between lovers, heartbreak, and lost lovers. Every song sounds like a page taken out of a timeless love story; it’s the Heartbreak Hotel redone.
Coming out of the pop-soul abyss In the song Too Close, a nostalgic r&b vocal ignites a haunting vocal composition that cries out for the toxic relationship to end. A song filled with the aftereffects of an unrequited love On this production, Gemïny and Joshua Florez collaborated to create a theatrical and eerie performance that was driven by the vocals. vocals that combine a diverse range of genres, from R&B to rock and pop. The vocals are controlled by the unlimited range, bringing the song its initial 2k+ monthly listeners. Check out his latest single and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
GEMÏNY: I’m just a small-town boy, from good ol’ Raleigh North Carolina. Kinda sorta, I moved every two years across state lines sometimes across the seas, but I always seemed to return to Raleigh. Spent a lot of time riding horses with my god mother, hiking, just getting dirty in the great outdoors, and I think both that and my seemingly endless travels around the world really shaped me as a person and provided me with a myriad of different perspectives, opinions, and approaches that also undoubtedly influenced my music.
At a very early age I got into composing music with the aid of this blue toy piano my great grandmother gifted me, and it really just grew from there. Spent some time in band in elementary school, orchestra in high school. Spent a good 7 years of my life learning to play classical piano and studying classical composition. That ultimately led to me gaining a music composition scholarship at the University of South Carolina. Here at the university, I had a lot of interactions with mental health struggles both personally and with people around me, which ultimately led me to begin performing live with cover bands and doing freelance work to raise money in support of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Which brings us full circle but really, I’m just your average bo from North Cackalacky who wants to have a fun life filled with adventures to tell.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
GEMÏNY: I wish, currently, I am completely self-taught with the aid of Youtube of course. Definitely starting to look into some in-person coaching now. Especially because certain things I’m hoping to achieve with my voice seem a little unsafe to be testing out with no guidance, and there’s definitely a lot more for me to learn.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘GEMÏNY’?
GEMÏNY: I don’t know how much credit I’m allowed to give certain people. So, please forgive me for that, but I vividly remember watching Michael Jackson and James Brown performing at the BET awards and just thinking how cool they were being on stage dancing, singing, performing the way they did, and I really wanted to be like them from a performing point of view. I always wanted to be able to feel electric. As far as strongest influences I don’t think it’s a secret that Hayley Williams, and Usher are my biggest inspirations musically.
The name was actually just a nickname I received in grade school because of my name being Sage and Sage the Gemini (? No relation I know it’s unfortunate). I’m also not a Gemini so there’s really no correlation at all, Red Nose just happened to be a big song and it stuck throughout the years. I added the “ï“ to represent that there’s always two sides of the coin and I’m no exception. The y just fit stylistically. Sorry y’all no super cool story with that one, I’ll make up for it later, I promise.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
GEMÏNY: Even if it’s not from a mental health perspective, I hope that everyone can relate to the messages in the music. That they can see we are all going through something and living this thing called life together and that they’re not alone in the journey. I don’t think the experience is universal, but I do think that being able to have someone to relate to is always an added bonus and the aim in my music Is to be that connection for as many people as I can.
When it comes to describing my sound that one’s tough. It’s really just a fusion of any and everything I can think of. It’s like making a pot of jambalaya sometimes you have to add a little extra spice to the pot. My sound is centralized in the pop genre, but I don’t let that restrict me. If I want to use some vocal fry for emphasis, I’ll hit the whammy bar like a rockstar. R&B sultry to add a little extra romance why not. A little scatt of jazz? Why not. Honestly my sound is just free and fun.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Of course, Music is like any other platform, it provides us with the devices to push word towards what we find most important and express our opinions and beliefs. And of course, music is a very universal language that the vast majority of the world finds comfort in. So naturally, when it comes to politics, culture, and social constructs it holds immense power in being able to combat beliefs and raise awareness.
Personally, I try to steer clear of speaking on politics, just too polarizing of a subject to be tackling all the time, if I’m really passionate about the topic at hand I’ll speak up but it’s very rare I’ll take an open position on politics, But I guess given the right circumstances I would right about it. I have definitely written about social issues before in my growing stages – domestic abuse, equality, Mental health awareness, etc. I don’t discriminate if it’s something I’m passionate about and I can make a good lyrical narrative from it I will certainly write it. The eventual debut album “Victoria’s Secret” has a very set narrative, but as time continues there are certainly songs that I’ve written about social issues that I will certainly release, and hopefully at that time I will have the platform to reach a few ears and make at least a marginal impact.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
I don’t really expect anything from the music personally. I hope everyone who listens to it can in some way shape or form relate to what they here and find solace in the messages. But for me it’s just fun creating and being able to do the things I’ve spent the entirety of my life wishing for. I’m just a big nerd who gets to sing and dance like a kid, and every now and then I get to do it on stage in a room of people looking to have fun just like me.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
The creative process for me definitely isn’t uniform. Sometimes I’ll be in the shower and just sing a random song out of nowhere and think “yeah that’s dope, I gotta make something out of that later.” other times I’ll be at the keys and randomly drift off from the sheets into some uncharted territory and make something out of that. It really is a lot of improv and pulling from my classical background for basic guidance. I will say 9 times out of 10 I’ll start with a beat and let that pull a narrative, and I’ve never had a specific story that I tried to force into a song, it all just weaves itself together freely until it lands on a solid idea.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
It’s funny, First and foremost I was given a lot growing up, had a lot of opportunities that many others weren’t allowed and, rarely went without and I’m forever grateful for that. But I also endured and persevered through a lot. Seen a lot of things I wouldn’t even dream of speaking on. Things that objectively I feel like would be considered more difficult. But I’d say without a doubt the hardest trial in my life so far was having to watch someone I held very dear to me commit suicide and not being able or capable enough to do anything about it.
I’ve always been very private about my hardships and having had found someone I was comfortable with to share those things with and then losing them in such a gruesome fashion was hard for me to grasp. I really lost myself in that moment and having blamed myself for the position they were in for so long and feeling as though there was so much more that I could have done for them, really pushed me over the edge and almost took me back to some very dark places. As someone who prided themselves on being “unbreakable,” that was definitely the straw that broke the camel’s back. It is a major reason I began fully pursuing music seriously and was the bridge that brought me to Supporting the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I’ve always accredited my hardships for making me the person I am today, and I’ve always been grateful for that over feeling bitter. But this was one lesson that for as much it has and inevitably will do for my journey and development, it will always be something I look back on with regret.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
GEMÏNY: When I was living in Kenya, we were required to do a few different service experiences every semester as a graduation requirement. One of the experiences I partook in was a Healing Arts group where we would visit a nearby hospital and orphanage and talk with them and do arts and crafts with them if they were able. Eventually during that experience, a group and I worked with a few of the children at the orphanage to make a giant collaborative painting that was ultimately auctioned at the school’s art auction to raise money for supplies for the orphanage. It was a really cool experience and holds a lot more value to me than any accolades I’ve attained over the years just because of the time we spent with the kids and how fun it was to collaborate with everyone to bring the kids more elaborate ideas to life.
KEEP IN TOUCH:
Photo credits: DWD Perspectives