Woodpecker Wooliams – Sparrow

Posted by Fabio 7 September 2012

‘Sparrow’ is taken from Woodpecker Wooliams imminent new album ‘The Bird School Of Being Human’. Of all the birds that came forward for the School, ‘Sparrow’ is the most viscious, reflected in its sonic disparity from the others. With a nod to Dolly’s ‘Little Sparrow’, it continues that theme with a splattering of cultural influence from Chairman Mao’s famous Great Sparrow Massacre campaign.

Woodpecker Wooliams aka singer-songwriter Gemma Williams has an unnerving, sweet tremolo voice. Her songs are unusual, modern +
intriguing. Originally comprised of vocals and harp, the odd bell, chime + whistle they have more recently begun to encompass an altogether fuller, electronic, droney sound. Bold and fearless, live she delivers an alluring, understatedly dramatic set.

On her 20th birthday Gemma was initiated onto a shamanic path and after completing a thorough practitioner’s training over several years, including an overnight earth burial she has been practicing for six years or so. Meanwhile she worked as an auxiliary maternity nurse and went on to train as a midwife in 2007/8, delivering several babies.

Sadly a sudden and severe illness put paid to that and on leaving hospital Gemma upped sticks and sought out the countryside calm of Devon, holing up in a cottage built into the hill under Totnes castle. She waitressed in a teashop and hired a harp. Woodpecker Wooliams was born – the more she sang, the more she learned to play, the more well she became. Gemma grew up in the concrete and shopping malls of Crawley…
Music was pretty much absent at home as her mother suffers from a rare condition meaning she cannot tolerate repetitive or high-pitched sound. Once on the road of musical composition, Gemma quickly became bored of the saccharine, twee folky sound her music was falling into and in textbook rebellious fashion, found herself moving towards “mental, horrible, distorted noise”, in an almost compulsive effort to bring some balance to her music.

‘The Bird School Of Being Human’ is released September 10th on Robot Elephant Records on, known primarily as an electronic label and so a perfect home for Woodpecker Wooliams as she spreads her wings into new territories.