Irish vocalist and producer Gemma Dunleavy writes club-pop songs that are rich with themes of self-reflection and stories of working class life.
Dunleavy grew up and is still currently based in Sheriff Street, the area of Dublin’s North Inner City that was subject to negative media stories focused on its crime rate and heroin epidemic in the 1980s and 90s, and which is facing gentrification today. Her 2021 debut solo EP Up De Flats was a celebration of the Sheriff Street community’s resilience and solidarity in the face of neglect from the local council and hostility from outsiders. With her dreamy voice, lyrical storytelling drawing from the Irish seanchaí heritage, and a blend of modern genres like UK garage, R&B, and pop music with elements of traditional instrumentation, Dunleavy’s Up De Flats won praise from publications like Dazed, while its title track was nominated for the RTÉ Choice Music Prize in 2021.
Dunleavy’s first release was the Jasmine EP in collaboration with producer Murlo, released via the Mixpak record label (Popcaan, Palmistry, Dre Skull). This was followed by collaborations with Swing Ting and Sharda. Her first solo single arrived via 4AD sister label b4 in 2019, and in 2017 and 2021, she lent her vocals to two albums by Lost Horizons, the duo co-founded by Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins. In 2021 she also appeared in Luke McManus’s film North Circular, a feature-length documentary essay on Dublin’s North Circular Road and its working-class communities and histories.
Dunleavy has performed in Ireland, the UK, and Canada (including at festivals such as Altogether Now, Forbidden Fruit, Electric Picnic) and has appeared on national radio and TV. In 2022 she gave a church performance for the esteemed Other Voices and sold out her hometown headline show at The Academy, Dublin. She is currently finishing her next project.