If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be the last person on earth, Jem’s haunting new track “Lost” goes a long way to show you. Switching up the tone of a fairly uneventful Thursday, “Lost” narrates a dystopian world in which a single man loses absolutely everything. Beginning with Jem’s isolated vocals, the track delves into unusual and eery soundscapes, creating a sense of unknown for his listeners. In doing so, Jem creates an immersive experience whereby we join him in a mutual feeling of being totally “Lost”.
“Feeling lost is a common theme,” Jem explains. “It is okay to feel like that; there is nothing wrong with it. When I say it out loud, it makes me feel better. I would want people to take this away.” Transforming the singles sentiments into a visual concept, Jem releases an accompanying music video, directed by his brother, Necip Karakas. Adding to the dream-like quality of Jem’s dystopia, the video sees the alt-rock artist performing in a sermon-like manner to an empty temple. While standing on stage, rows of empty chairs are captured — covered in items of clothing without an occupant. Showing the disconnect between Jem and the physical realm, the visual is a testament to the track’s ability to make a powerful statement through artistry.
Commemorating the release, Jem spoke with Wonderland about his musical inspirations, and gave us his own interpretation of the track.
For the full interview and to stream “Lost” now, scroll below…
Hi Jem, how are you doing? Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today.
I’m doing just great! No worries at all; thank you for this opportunity.
Let’s start at the beginning, how did you first get into music?
I actually wanted to be a painter before a musician; colours and shades always fascinated me! It is funny because my mum also wanted to be a painter but became a math teacher instead. Anyways, I started with piano lessons when I was eight. Later on, I got into Opera at sixteen in the Conservatory, where I realised my ultimate passion, which is songwriting!
Who/what would you say inspires you the most?
There’s a trip that I will never forget. So when I was a kid, we went to an art gallery with my school, and I remember looking at an art piece. Then suddenly, I was hit by these otherworldly yet familiar emotions, and since then, every form of self-expression has continued to inspire me! When experiencing art and music, I feel emotions take me somewhere else; it’s both a visual and audible fantasy! I paint my songs, and my songs paint my feelings!
And we hear you studied Opera at the age of 16! Do you think this changed your approach to making music?
Oh, it did! When I started building my voice as a singer, I actually needed to get away from Opera. Because all my training had taught me to put my voice in a box, and I wanted to break all the boxes.
Congratulations on the release of “Lost”! Can you tell us about the meaning behind the song?
Thank you so much! It’s been a while since I’ve been working on that song, so it still feels surreal to put it out! I often like to create characters and build worlds on top of them when writing songs. So with “Lost”, I was undeniably inspired by the distress of the movie The Pianist, which I recently re-watched and once again ended up bursting into tears. The discomfort I felt when watching the film for the first time was so real that it has become my anguish from that point on, so I started journaling out these sentiments hoping to find some cathartic release! ‘Lost’ really is a documentation of my feelings at a point in my life where I tried to find some light in the heart of someone else!
And it comes alongside an incredibly cinematic visual! What do you hope translates to your audience from it?
I’m a very visual person, so I see a draft of my videos in pretty much every song that I write. My lovely brother Necip Karakas, producer and director, believed in my vision and took it to a completely different level! I think feeling lost is a common theme, it is okay to feel like that, there is nothing wrong with it. When I say it out loud, it makes me feel better. I would want people to take this away.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific genre with your music as it’s so unique… How would you describe your sound?
I think we live in a genre-less world. Now you can do anything with your music, and of course, when you’re an independent artist, that also helps. Therefore I don’t think I can describe my sound; I think it’s just me. However, my heritage plays a big role when writing music, it is how I learned to convey emotions in the first place, so I guess it comes out in every songwriting session. Lastly, I also have to admit that I’m not easily pleased; I push hard until the sound matches my core!
How do you stay so creative?
For me, creativity is no different than breathing; it’s something that I do without thinking about it. But besides that, I am very keen on becoming the best musician I can be, so I work every day on my musicianship to reach that level!
And finally, what are you most excited for this year?
I am very excited about performing and forming new connections with my growing audience. Oh yeah, and also, I have my debut EP “Don’t Let Me Disappear” coming up soon. I can’t wait to put that out!