"I will never again release a song I don't like."
November 20, 2016 11:38 AM   Subscribe

NY Magazine: How Sting’s daughter sabotaged her music career so she make it on her own as an anonymous — until now — DJ.
Sumner is rock royalty. But being born into bohemian privilege is complicated, especially in the UK. “There are a lot of great things about the English music scene, but they have an obsession with taking down their own,” says Andrew Wyatt, a friend and collaborator of Sumner’s who is also the frontman of the band Miike Snow. Or, as one prominent executive at a prestigious British label put it: “I’m not rooting for her, and no one is rooting for her.”
GQ: We're pretty sure Sting's kid Eliot Sumner is from the future. posted by Lexica (65 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's uncanny how much she does and doesn't sound like her dad. I love her voice though, really unique.
posted by Drumhellz at 12:31 PM on November 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


She appears to be playing the Fender signature Sting re-release single pickup P-bass in the Dead Arms video. Or maybe it's an original. But I thought that was kind of cheeky.

I own one and it's a pretty sweet bass, I love it but I'm secretly worried someone will notice the subtle Sting signature on the fretboard and correctly identify me as a total poseur.

Back on topic, these songs are pretty great, a little too epic-ambient-electronic that the kids seem to love these days for my taste, but I think the point is correct that this music stands on its own.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:45 PM on November 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Her contralto is freakishly similar to Sting's youthful tenor (which has been a bit roughed-up by time). But those videos are all from over a year ago and are branded "Eliot Sumner" -- I guess her DJ career is the one that she (was) doing pseudonymously?
posted by MattD at 1:15 PM on November 20, 2016


I like her stuff. Sort of a Sting/Morrison hybrid through a feminine filter...
posted by jim in austin at 1:27 PM on November 20, 2016


a highly manufactured album

I guess there's a certain irony there, given that the album was produced by Robyn's long time collaborator Klas Åhlund (Teddybears), who started working with Robyn after she'd given up on the (US) music industry and started Konichiwa to get full creative control.
posted by effbot at 1:33 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


The combination Sting/GQ always makes me think of this.
posted by farlukar at 1:36 PM on November 20, 2016


If you had told me these songs were some long-lost Sting project from around the Synchronicity era, I might not have questioned it.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:37 PM on November 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


One of his kids had a band, Fiction Plane, who opened the Police reunion show I saw. They were OK.
posted by thelonius at 1:40 PM on November 20, 2016


ooh i really like this!
posted by dismas at 2:04 PM on November 20, 2016


Dosen't he have like 75 kids or something?
posted by jonmc at 2:07 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


You're counting orgasms.

I think her voice is kind of wasted on these rather Sting-ish songs. Her voice! Wowzers.
posted by glitter at 2:20 PM on November 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Nice, thank you!
posted by Glinn at 2:22 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


She has a gorgeous voice! Inevitable comparisons to her dad, especially because the music is Sting-ish, as is her singing style, but wow I love her voice!

Thanks so much for this, what a great post.
posted by biscotti at 2:24 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's uncanny how much she does and doesn't sound like her dad. I love her voice though, really unique.

I came across one of her videos before and had no idea who she was. In passing I actually thought she had a neat voice and that she weirdly reminded me of Sting.

And now I know why!
posted by Jalliah at 2:38 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


'Sabotage' is a good record. Better than 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath', but not as good as the first four Black Sabbath records. Terrible artwork, though.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 3:03 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I blame the red tights and cocai...

I like it but but it feels like something has not hit the mark, like holding back a punch.
posted by clavdivs at 3:11 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


It seems like the music industry tends to have very narrow ideas about women's voices (and looks and behavior) and what's acceptable there that it doesn't necessarily have about men, and this was incredibly refreshing. I'm not usually a huge fan of dynasties, but if that's what means someone like this actually gets a shot, it seems like it's a net positive.

I love the fact that when being interviewed with her model girlfriend and asked about their personal style, her girlfriend gives the conventional sort of answer, and Eliot says: "I wear a lot of black. Like my heart."
posted by Sequence at 3:39 PM on November 20, 2016


Slarty Barfast: I love those '53 P-Bass reissues, but I have never made my peace with the fact that the low E string can easily snag on the lip of the pickup and get caught there. After happening to me a few times on gigs I had to let it go.
posted by sourwookie at 3:43 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I used to love The Police beyond all reason, and pretty much hate everything Stink [sic] has done on his own, and think he is a blowhard. Given that, and the whole child of privilege thing, I was ready to hate her stuff without bothering to listen, but I did listen. And I ... kinda like it.
posted by old_growler at 4:19 PM on November 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


looks at apple

moves eyes fractionally up

looks at tree
posted by Sebmojo at 4:20 PM on November 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


(this is great, children are a time machine)
posted by Sebmojo at 4:20 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


You're all missing the biggest mystery of the story:

She moved, by herself, to a cottage in the Lake District, where she focused on tangible tasks, like learning to make stock from a whole chicken.


How long did it take her to master the challenging process of putting water and chicken in a pot? Does one need a cottage in the Lake District to accomplish it successfully? Were her earlier efforts hampered by using something other than a whole chicken? A whole cantaloupe? A whole Marcel Breuer chair?

So many questions.
posted by neroli at 4:21 PM on November 20, 2016 [73 favorites]


I have to wonder if the "five million years ago" and "fifty million years" in Dead Arms And Dead Legs are an intentional nod to Sting's weird proclivity for lyrical exaggeration, or maybe that's just how he talks. "come and get your dinner love, it's been ready for hundreds of hours now". Either way I like this a lot. Portentous sounding minimal synth rock with oddball lyrics is more or less how I like my rock music.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:45 PM on November 20, 2016


Hey now, I'm not a child of privilege like this, per se, but I am a white guy and I've spent the better part of my breakfast time over the past 20 years working on my scrambled eggs technique.
posted by rhizome at 4:50 PM on November 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


the challenging process of putting water and chicken in a pot

I think you have to cut the chicken into parts first. And what about the feathers?
posted by thelonius at 4:56 PM on November 20, 2016


The first show I ever went to was a Police concert at the Foxboro stadium in.... 1982?3?* It was fantastic.

I love her voice. It's a little eerie, how much she sounds like him (looks like him, too). May she have a long career or careers doing things she likes.

* Thanks, internet! It was 1983.
posted by rtha at 5:06 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


putting water and chicken in a pot : Chicken Stock :: plugging in a microphone : Sting
posted by Revvy at 5:25 PM on November 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


One of his kids had a band, Fiction Plane, who opened the Police reunion show I saw. They were OK.

I went to high school with Joe, though I didn't know him especially well. He was, at the time, the sort of guy who would suddenly say stuff like "extra large dentists" for no apparent reason. Turns out a Salisbury accent works pretty great for that. Still, by no means the weirdest person at that school.
posted by aubilenon at 5:25 PM on November 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


This is the first day of my chicken diary. The chicken has not responded to any avant-garde interventions. I have performed "chicken chicken chicken stock" as a performance piece seven times and the chicken has not chosen to participate. I am rewriting the instructions for this situation but fear that the chicken is too embedded in the spectacle to want to engage.

It is now two months later and the chicken is not willing to participate in a stock production activity themed by Adorno. Life may not live, but this chicken will not chicken.

A year. A year with this chicken. I want it to feel... like stock... and have reduced the kitchen to its suprematist roots to encourage a purely emotional response, devoid of inherit artistic construct and perceptional overlays. While I wait for the chicken to evolve and choose to join me, I am eating cereal from a white cube that occasionally screams "Pasternak!". The cube keeps me awake at night and I sometimes find it waiting outside my room.

I did not leave it there.

Two years.

I called Grayson Perry. He came over and made a pot covered in constructed runes from a non-existent language forged in an alternate history of class in Britain.

We drank a bottle of wine and, while I wasn't looking, he cooked the chicken.

Bastard.
posted by nfalkner at 7:36 PM on November 20, 2016 [25 favorites]


rhizome, try a dash of curry powder. It'll take your scramble to the next level.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:36 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not usually a huge fan of dynasties
the whole child of privilege thing


I think this is kind of unfair. Many famous musicians are the children of musicians themselves. Growing up in a musical family means you're more likely to consider it as a career. Some rockers with professional musician dads: John Lennon, Ray & Dave Davies, Pete Townshend.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:44 PM on November 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


I like it but but it feels like something has not hit the mark, like holding back a punch.

Totally agree. It seems like straight up synth-y pop rock with a unique voice, but nothing to make it stand out.
posted by ashbury at 8:24 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


sounds fresher to my ears than anything I've heard from her old man since at least 1980 ... so yeah, the kid's alright.
posted by philip-random at 9:10 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think this is kind of unfair. Many famous musicians are the children of musicians themselves. Growing up in a musical family means you're more likely to consider it as a career. Some rockers with professional musician dads: John Lennon, Ray & Dave Davies, Pete Townshend.

Sure but when you're the child of a not rich or famous musician that's not really the same thing. Your parent being a musician tends to give you a leg up in terms of exposure to music, but your parent being a massively successful musician tends to give you a leg up in terms of connections, in a profession where you're likely to need either very good luck or connections. By none of this do I mean knock Ms. Sumner I'm just saying that's why it bugs people a bit - which of course she understands.
posted by atoxyl at 9:55 PM on November 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Many famous musicians are the children of musicians themselves. Growing up in a musical family means you're more likely to consider it as a career. Some rockers with professional musician dads: John Lennon, Ray & Dave Davies, Pete Townshend.

Having a musical family and a parent who can scrape together a living playing music is not in the same universe as having Sting for a dad.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:13 PM on November 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Wow, it really took me awhile to hear her and not Sting. Like 3 songs worth. :-)
posted by smidgen at 10:56 PM on November 20, 2016


Like poor old Sean Lennon. The public won't have it.
posted by Coda Tronca at 11:46 PM on November 20, 2016


rhizome, try a dash of curry powder. It'll take your scramble to the next level.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:36 AM on November 21 [+] [!]


This is a clever allusion to that Desert Rose song, right?
posted by BinGregory at 12:01 AM on November 21, 2016


It's not shit.

Which considering the massive amounts of pre-judgement and history which I brought to the table is genuinely impressive.
posted by fullerine at 12:05 AM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Like poor old Sean Lennon. The public won't have it.

COME HOME JULIAN ALL IS FORGIVEN
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:45 AM on November 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sean sounded OK last I heard of him.
posted by thelonius at 1:34 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


She doesn't just sound like Sting, she moves like him. I wonder how much is genetics and how much is actual imitation.
posted by signal at 3:32 AM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Vaal?
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:54 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure that's Ally Sheedy's kid.
posted by gwint at 5:24 AM on November 21, 2016


Her voice is great but after the first track I'm underwhelmed by the music. There is such a thing as too understated ... Very little happens in that track melodically or dramatically. It just kind of minimally pokes along.
posted by freecellwizard at 7:00 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


But being born into bohemian privilege is complicated

The meaning of the word “bohemian” has now changed by about 165º since it referred to artists and prostitutes dying of consumption in Parisian garrets; now it refers to a moneyed aristocracy founded in cultural production. All it will take is another round of breaking down the exchange barriers between cultural capital and financial/political capital (see also: the way that “hipsters” have gone from being slumming musicians/artists in thrift-store clothing to predominantly rich kids in expensive clothing) and “bohemian” will mean wealthy investors who pay particular attention to the aesthetics of their mansions and yachts.
posted by acb at 7:05 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Great keyboard riffs I will say that. Her(?) voice is the best thing about it, not just because of the resemblance to Sting. Reminds me of another singer who deliberately sort of eludes gender in their phrasing, Zach from Flor.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:15 AM on November 21, 2016


I appreciated seeing this FPP
posted by infini at 8:01 AM on November 21, 2016


> Her(?)

Why the question mark?
posted by rtha at 8:01 AM on November 21, 2016


rtha: "> Her(?)

Why the question mark?
"

"(When asked if she’d prefer the pronoun “they” to “she,” she responds nonchalantly, “call me how you call me.”)"

(from the Nymag article)
posted by chavenet at 8:21 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed it, but was reminded that I'm very much looking forward to whatever Lorde does next.
posted by dylanjames at 8:27 AM on November 21, 2016


> (from the Nymag article)

Thanks! I totally missed that somehow.
posted by rtha at 8:27 AM on November 21, 2016


She's not remotely 'bohemian', she's fabulously wealthy and was privately educated at a school from the Eton Group. When you can spend your life doing anything, why do you have to come and do our thing?
posted by Coda Tronca at 10:10 AM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much is genetics and how much is actual imitation.

I don't know that it needs to be imitation in the "trying to sound like my dad to be a famous musician" thing. We grow up learning virtually everything about how we move and communicate from our parents, from the beginning. Some people rebel against that at some point; others not so much. I'm nobody but my musical tastes today are very VERY heavily influenced by the people my parents and aunts listened to when I was a kid. Going to Peter, Paul and Mary concerts as a child, all that. My taste in music that isn't singer-songwriters with acoustic guitars didn't show up until I was an adult, but if I were going to be a musician myself, that would have been the kind of musician I was, because that was my comfort zone. This is one case where "imitation" can be very authentic.
posted by Sequence at 10:47 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


When you can spend your life doing anything, why do you have to come and do our thing?

I'm guessing you're not a Rolling Stones fan, then.
posted by rhizome at 11:09 AM on November 21, 2016


like learning to make stock from a whole chicken

the saving grace of this otherwise ridiculous sentence was that they didn't call it bone broth
posted by poffin boffin at 11:16 AM on November 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't know that it needs to be imitation in the "trying to sound like my dad to be a famous musician" thing.

I wasn't writing about how she sounds, but about how she moves. And I didn't mean imitation in any negative sense.
posted by signal at 11:50 AM on November 21, 2016


The meaning of the word “bohemian” has now changed by about 165º since it referred to artists and prostitutes dying of consumption in Parisian garrets;

And it changed 357º since it meant a person of Romani origin mistakenly thought to be from Bohemia.

Funny how language works, huh?
posted by signal at 11:52 AM on November 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Really interesting articles!
posted by SarahElizaP at 3:33 PM on November 21, 2016


Wow, I love me some Police and early solo Sting and I was not prepared for her voice. That, the intensity, the lyrics, she's definitely her father's daughter. Delightful! I'll be following her career with interest.
posted by halonine at 3:42 PM on November 21, 2016


See also Phil collins's daughter Lily, who sang a song for the soundtrack of the movie "Mirror, Mirror" a few years ago. (Not bad but not going to derail that acting/modeling career.)
posted by wenestvedt at 3:08 AM on November 22, 2016


Sting's daughter aside, if such an androgyne goddess of sterling self-possession walked into the Cubby Hole in the Village and nodded her head in my direction, I think I might lose my mind.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 6:10 AM on November 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was a big fan of the first two or three Police albums but I'm not a fan of synth-y stuff in general. That said, her voice is haunting, in both the ethereal and the "ghost of Sting" sense, and "I Followed You Home" is really growing on me.

It does seem a little unfair that she inherits the musical talent and the cheekbones, though.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:10 AM on November 22, 2016


Heh. I just turned this album on while trying to do some work, and realized when I heard it that "After Dark" does get played on the only local music station I listen to, and so I've heard it several times ... but just assumed it was new Sting.
posted by jferg at 8:15 AM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nora Jones is Ravi Shanker's daughter.
Jacob Dylan did alright fronting the Wallflowers despite his dad's 50+ year musical career.
Pretty sure Nas's dad played jazz if I recall correctly.

Then there's Joe Henry who's Madonna's brother in law (tallent not transitive through genes in that sense, but a family appreciation of the culture of music is a reasonable interpretation).

Yes, there are elements that I can say 'sound like Sting', but they are clearly two very different people with some understandably similar styles. Her music has derived from his, but it is not derivative. This is not a watered down copy of his hell bent on capitalizing on his feel with her voice...
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:21 PM on November 23, 2016


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