[INTERVIEW] Jem Cooke Talks On Her New Collab With Rony Seikaly, 'Stay With Me', Musical Influences, + More

Jem Cooke, Stay With Me, Interview, Rony Seikaly
| May 21, 2023

Since embarking on her musical journey from a young age, multi-faceted artist Jem Cooke has blossomed into a one of the top vocalists and songwriters across the EDM scene. Her chilling lyrics have received attention from a number of prominent DJs, leading to joint originals with Camelphat, Gorgon City, Jax Jones, and Ferreck Dawn, to name a few. 

Now, Jem is leaping into the next chapter of her distinguished career. Teaming up with former NBA center turned dance music superstar, Rony Seikaly, the two have forged their new breathtaking single, “Stay With Me”. We chatted with Jem on this hypnotic track and other components of her identity as an artist.

Check out iEDM’s exclusive interview with Jem Cooke below.

Jem Cooke, Stay With Me, Interview, Rony Seikaly

iEDM: Growing up, which people around you had the most significant impact on the development of your passion for music and singing?

Jem: My dad is a multi-instrumentalist and composer for film & TV. He had me at my first studio session when I was three years old doing a radio jingle for the Evening Standard, so I think the blame for all this can be left firmly at his feet!


iEDM: Whether in music or life in general, what is a piece of wisdom you discovered at a young age that has stuck with you permanently, and why?

Jem: I learned that nobody really knows what they are doing, so don’t be afraid to blag it, try stuff, and see what happens. I was really frightened of a lot for a long time, never believed I knew what I needed or was better than anybody else. It was such a waste of time and headspace.

Do not worry too much – just experiment and do no’t be afraid to fail. You change, grow, and are allowed to get it wrong. I am only talking to creatives though – ignore that if you are in the medical profession.


iEDM: How has your taste in music shifted throughout your life and what major influences helped ignite these new interests?

Jem: In order, it was:

Early 80s: Fleetwood Mac, Carole King, James Taylor because it is what my dad listened to!

Late 80s: I was obsessed with Kylie and told everybody at school I was her little sister and brought in ‘genuine autographs’ on scraps of paper to prove it! Then was obsessed with Cher; I bought her entire back catalog with my pocket money – incidentally years later in 2017 she cut a record I wrote which was a bit of a moment for me.

90s: I was all about RnB and UK garage – could not get enough of it.

2000s: was all about Adele, Jamie T, Kate Nash, Jack Penate. I loved that time so much.

Then the dance scene for me really started to open up and my love affair with melodic house, techno, and disco began to crescendo. I was working with some friends in Nottingham and we wrote incredible stuff together. It never got released but I still think it is some of the best work I have ever done – it is in a vault somewhere, maybe one day we will release it!

But around that time, 2010-ish, I did a collaboration with Kate Simko and that launched my journey into the electronic space.

Also, in 2009, one of my best friends took me to my first Roisin Murphy gig and I am yet to find anybody who blows my head off as much as she does. Watching her live is like being transported through portals of space and time. She is incomparable.

Jem Cooke, Stay With Me, Interview, Rony Seikaly

iEDM: What sparked your desire to play piano and ukulele? Which instrument has been more challenging to learn and what are some of your go-to training methods for it?

Jem: Ha, nothing, I have no advice and I definitely never used any training methods. Piano was just what you did growing up. I was alright and got to grade four but dropped the ‘learning’ part, as I only wanted to play what I wanted, not what was on the syllabus. Then my music teacher told me I could not take GCSE music because I did not have grade five, so I dropped it at school. My dad was so cross with that teacher!

The ukulele happened because my dad thought it was a good look so he bought me one for Christmas. When I did not pick it up for a year, he wrapped it up and gave it to me again – this happened four Christmases in a row. Eventually, I reluctantly picked it up and wound up loving it!

I was never that good but I did like that it was a part of my live performances for a while. Dad taught me all the chords, so that will always feel special. I think I was the uke-equivalent of Pheobe from Friends…in fact I think she had put it all over me!





iEDM: What were your favorite parts of working with Rony Seikaly on your brand-new collab, “Stay With Me”? How do your styles complement each other on this track?

Jem: I originally wrote something a bit more cosmic and vague (typically), but Rony was really after something more soulful and with more intent. I really leaned into the proper 90s house records that dealt with proper feelings and were more like conversations between two people. It was a pleasure to write.

iEDM: What story do the lyrics tell in “Stay With Me”? How were you able to shape your vocals in a way that pairs smoothly with the instrumental?

Jem: It feels like a moment of anticipation. The music already feels like that, so in the song I wanted to lean into that moment right before you crossover into something deeper with somebody new. That space where you are sort of hovering over the next chapter and one of you has to say how they are really feeling.

At this point, you have to take a risk by making yourself vulnerable. There is a tension there in the music. Lyrically, I wanted it to exist in that space between trying to play it cool and dropping all your cards on the table.


iEDM: What emotions do you feel when listening to this “Stay With Me”? If you close your eyes during the track, what setting or scene do you visualize?

Jem: How long have you got? It’s a pretty familiar scene – I’ve been in that situation a few hundred times over! (I am very happily married now though and have been with my hubby for 13 years, so not since we got together, of course!)


iEDM: You have the opportunity to play at any venue in the world and with any artist, active or retired. Given this scenario, what would be your selection and what outfit would you wear to the show?

Jem: Oh man, well, any of the people listed above. But for venues, Hollywood Bowl or Red Rock would be amazing, most definitely. I have been so lucky to be invited to join people like Wilkinson and Camelphat on some of their biggest shows. Therefore, I have crossed off more places and venues than I could have ever imagined.

When I was touring acoustically, I did some phenomenal venues as a support act to a few people across Germany and Austria – like insanely beautiful old concert halls that were totally magical.

Then there is Glastonbury, which I have only ever been a guest of someone else on their show for one or two songs. However, I am totally blown away to say that this year I have been given my very own set on the Glade stage, which has left me equal parts ecstatic and terrified.

Outfits…MANY and most likely with some kind of lighting rig attached to my body.

Jem Cooke, Stay With Me, Interview, Rony Seikaly

iEDM: What are you most looking forward to in regard to your upcoming slot at Glastonbury? Are there any surprises or plans around the performance that you can foreshadow for your fans to get excited about?

Jem: It is just a dream come true. If I make it on and off the stage without falling over, crying, or wetting myself, then that will be the biggest surprise to everyone.

Beyond that – they will just have to come and see!



Photos courtesy of Bexy Cameron (@cameron_film) and Jem Cooke


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Connor Phillips


Fueled by his passion for EDM, Connor’s life revolves around dance music and its ability to bring people together. Raised in upstate New York, Connor was deprived of festivals and raves until he attended Florida State University, where he was instantly hooked. Fast-forward to today and Connor has become a house and melodic techno DJ, an avid EDM-based interviewer and writer, and has worked PR for the likes of Matroda, Bleu Clair, and other new-wave house icons.

Outside of music, Connor loves pretty much any sport (huge Knicks, Yankees, and NY Giants fan), going on hikes, traveling, and food. Based in Florida, there’s a good chance you will eventually run into Connor at one of the popular festivals and clubs throughout the state.

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