Coco Sumner is not your typical celebrity offspring. She's low-key, a little shy, and doesn't hugely dig the exposure that comes with having famous parents (in case you didn't recognise the surname, her dad is Sting and her mum is Trudie Styler). Stick her on stage with a mic and guitar though, and things are a little different, as she told us when we chatted to her a few weeks ago. In other news, she turns 20 today, so many Esky returns, Coco!
ESQUIRE: Given your background, did you have an apprehensions about going in the music business?
COCO SUMNER: It's always been something that I really wanted to do, so I just fell into it really. It's quite scary, but it's alright. It takes a lot of courage to go out there and do it, but I'm only really in it for playing the live shows. I like playing shows because it's kind of like acting — you become a different character.
ESQ: How's your inter-song chat?
CS: I'm getting a bit better at it. Before I just mumbled complete crap. Now I have my list of things to say: "Thank you for coming!" "Wonderful crowd!"
ESQ: Where do you get your song ideas?
CS: Everywhere. Anything that makes me feel something. I start writing things down on scraps of paper and put them in my pocket, like a sentence that I really like. If I wake up one morning and write down the first thing I think of, I might make that into a lyric. But usually it starts with a melody.
ESQ: Are there scraps of paper all over your house?
CS: Yeah! Receipts and stuff. I find them everywhere.
ESQ: What about from books? We hear you're a big reader.
CS: I'm quite a slow reader but I enjoy it. Aldous Huxley's a big influence. And Milton. When my friends were doing their A-levels they were doing Paradise Lost and I kept hearing them talk about it. I was like, "How can you think that's boring? It's amazing!"
ESQ: What are you reading now?
CS: I've just finished Portnoy's Complaint. It was amazing. Next I'm going to read The Human Stain, another Philip Roth. He's brilliant. I've only just got into American literature.
ESQ: Who were your musical influences when you were growing up — apart from the obvious, of course?
CS: Ian Dury. I used to dress up as him as a little kid. I'd hit people with drum sticks. My nanny really like Ian Dury And The Blockheads so I was always listening to that. I listen to loads of film scores now — Clint Mansell [who writes scores for Darren Aronofsky], he's a genius. The Das Boot soundtrack, that's a brilliant one.
ESQ: So you like a bit of musical foraging?
CS: I think so. I was watching The Shining with my friends the other night and I was like, "Just listen to the music — it's so good!" They were like, "Shut up!"
ESQ: Your forthcoming album, The Constant, is a pop record but with a decidedly dark edge — was that important to you?
CS: Definitely. I think dark pop is a good way of putting it. The songs are quite melancholic and there are a lot of dark influences. It's not a shiny pop record.
ESQ: And you recorded it in Sweden?
ESQ: Yeah in Stockholm. I wrote and recorded everything out there and then brought it back here for additional production. I'd always had an urge to go to Sweden and then I heard the Teddybears' record and Robyn's record... It became my second home. I go as much as I can. I love it there.
ESQ: You had a small role in the fantasy adventure film Starlight — are you going to keep up the acting?
CS: That was just a random thing to earn a bit of money. I like it though. I went to a method acting class the other day. That was quite funny. People get quite into it. In the beginning you had to be an animal. I was late so everyone was into it already. They said to me, "Choose your animal." I was like, "OK, I'm going to be an oyster and just sit here."
ESQ: What a cop out!
CS: Exactly! I don't think they noticed me. I'll stick to the music I think.