It’s not everyday you come across a rising star who carries the weight of a strong musical history and legacy in their stride. She is no stranger to the challenges that come with comparison yet she continues to shine her light and use her voice to create her own path to greatness, this is On The Rise, with Gemma Fassie.
What is your original hometown & your current residency place?
I am originally from Seawinds a small suburb in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. Most people know its neighboring area Lavender Hill. I’m currently residing in Johannesburg.
Tell us the meaning of your artist name and how it reflects who you are as a creative
My artist name is as authentic as my music Gemma, is my birth name given to me by my mom and I chose to stick with it because my mom played such a huge role in my life; from working hard to get me the best education to supporting my career as an independent artist. She said she heard the name in a shopping mall while pregnant with me and it just felt so right to name her daughter “Gemma” Fassie. WOW! What a great name to be able to add to my artist name as it already has so much legacy and impact on the music industry that it just made sense. My father is a Fassie and because so many people around me motivated me into just adding it to my stage name I thought why not own it!
Although it has put me in the spotlight to carry on the legacy I feel like I’m able to carry both the surname and the legacy with dignity. These names together, Gemma Fassie, have shown the two worlds who brought me into this world. Joining those names has also helped me find myself being mixed race (Xhosa & Coloured) and allowed me to be in touch with both cultures and love each of them for what they embody. My name definitely reflects my vulnerability to adapt to different surroundings, cultures and even music genres. It has helped me understand the meaning of being South African and helped me embrace being different but yet have so many people who can relate to my story and stories of other people I can carry/speak about in my music.
How many years have you been doing music for and what is the most fulfilling part
about being a musician?
The journey has definitely been long but so rewarding. I first started singing wholeheartedly in 2014 with a good friend of mine, Andrea Williams, who encouraged me to enter a school competition with her and we later started in a group called Simplicity & Imperfektion. Imperfektion entered Rawkus on HecticNine9 back in 2015 and we ended up winning which was a great moment for me personally because it made me realize my true identity, passion and desire to pursue music. I’ve been performing, in and around the music scene in Cape Town and been in studio for about 8 years now and the most fulfilling part of this journey has to be listening to my music on radio stations I grew up listening to & also meeting some of the presenters and people I would dance to in the mirror with a hairbrush as a little 5 year old (lol).
With all of your experience as an artist what would you say are the biggest challenge in the music industry right now
I’d definitely say that the biggest challenges would be finding people who are FOR YOU because this industry is so fast paced it’s difficult to find genuine people who you can trust with your career. But for me there’s so much beauty in that because you learn to have your own back, gain music business knowledge and become a stronger woman/artist and advocate.
Why is representation important in the music industry?
I feel like representation is important because it has a ripple effect across all productions. In the past couple years we’ve seen Africa getting so much recognition for its music, cultures and people which has opened up so many opportunities for artists, actors and businesses. It has also created a pipeline for diversity for people of colour and all genres which has allowed the younger generation to be exposed to different opportunities internationally and that has elevated the thinking of the youth the industry. To tell our stories, our authentic culture and experiences in life. One genre I wish we had more representation in this country is R&B, It’s finally cool to be from Africa, SOUTH AFRICA!!!
Message to your younger self?
You’ll meet so many people, learn so many things, get your heart broken & walked over BUT pick yourself up! You’re a strong woman who has so much greatness locked inside of you for the world to see. Let it out, shine UNAPOLOGETICALLY. Never dim your because you’re afraid of what people might think. These obstacles have been put in your way to teach you lessons, to shape and mold you into a vessel big enough to fit yourself and so many other people carry the flag with pride. Be content in your body, in your skin. Be content with different to your peers because that’s why your name is GEMMA 🤍