Meet GEMS, The Buzziest Duo At SXSW

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embed-gemsPhoto: Courtesy of Holly Burnham.
With festival season approaching and artists embarking on tours that will take them through the summer and beyond, we thought it would be fun to play a round of a classic road-trip game with some of our favorite musicians. This is 20 Questions, Festival Tracker-style.

SXSW is all about discovering breakout bands, and one of the buzzed-about new acts this year has to be GEMS. Hailing from Washington, D.C. the duo — comprised of Lindsay Pitts and Clifford John Usher — makes lush, sensual songs that we can't get out of our heads. For this edition of 20 Questions, we caught up with Pitts to talk traveling to Austin, unorthodox showering habits, and the difficulty of settling on a band name.

Go-to fast food on tour:
"Cracker Barrel."

Favorite karaoke song:
"Cliff sings a mean 'Ring of Fire.'"

Worst on-tour sleep situation:
"I went to sleep in the dark in a room one time because it didn’t have a light installed and woke up next to dried vomit."

Go-to outfit for the stage:
"Black witchy dress to cast spells in."

Best random on-the-road purchase:
"A lighter with a gem on it."

Favorite phone game:
"I still have a flip phone, but I made Cliff download Snake. I got over 100 one time…I never was good at video games."

Venue you're most excited to play:
"Hype Hotel."

Energy drink of choice:
"Coffee."

Best set you've seen lately:
"James Blake kills it every time. Sylvan Esso was a delightful surprise."

Favorite album for a long drive:
"Books on tape."

Check out the rest of the interview, ahead.


The thing you're most looking forward to at SXSW:
"A break from the cold weather."

Most important item to pack before going on tour:
"Gotta be practical on this one: fresh underwear."

Best gift from a fan:
"Handmade dreamcatcher."

Most days without showering:
"Five? Six?"

Favorite road-trip game:
"No games, just deep discussions about the nature of existence."

One thing you miss most about being home:
"I haven’t had a permanent home in forever. If I did, I’d love to get a pet."

Fantasy musician you'd open for:
"Tears for Fears, but back in the ‘80s."

Favorite on-the-road tradition:
"Watching the sunrise on a long drive through the desert."

Least favorite place to drive through:
"Texas. 'Inland border patrol'?!?! WTF?"

If you had a band name (that wasn't yours), what would it be:
"It took forever to pick this one, I can’t handle going through that process again, even fictionally."