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An Intense Chat With Coco From I Blame Coco

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:29 UK time, Tuesday, 2 November 2010

I Blame Coco

Coco Sumner is a very nice young lady, with a brilliantly scary stare, whose dad happens to be one of the most famous musicians in the world. She doesn't really like people going on about this, because it implies that this fact has some bearing on her choice of career, which, if you read this interview, you'll understand that it doesn't. Primarily because she didn't really choose her career in the first place. It just happened.

Luckily, this isn't a bad thing, as you'll know if you've been lucky enough to hear her new single 'In Spirit Golden' (here's the video) or the new album 'The Constant.'

So, for tales of physics, Robyn and letting your subconscious write songs for you, read on...

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ChartBlog: Hello Coco.
Coco: Hi there.

ChartBlog: Can I say, first of all, that I like the title of your album very much. 'The Constant' is like a more down-to-Earth version of those infinity songs that start with a 'the': 'The Eternal', 'The Universal', 'The Everlasting'...
Coco: It's the concept of time and space and love, it all comes into one. The constant for me is very complex, a mathematical sum that's almost impossible, but it's definitely there in physics.

ChartBlog: One of those branches of physics that also contains weird emotional stuff...
Coco: Yeah exactly.

ChartBlog: Is it a positive or a negative thing? I don't mean mathematically...
Coco: I think happiness and sadness go hand in hand, like any opposites. But the constant for me is an emotional thing, it's a feeling. So that's sort of good AND bad, I think.

ChartBlog: So it's a state of balance between those things?
Coco: Yeah.

ChartBlog: You're experiencing a range of emotions in your songs, and the album itself is the constant.
Coco: Yeah it sums up the body of work.

ChartBlog: Are you a literary person? Are you a big reader?
Coco: Yeah I read lots!

ChartBlog: There are a few good literary references in your songs - Lord of the Flies in 'Caesar', for example. It's nice to throw those things into the context of synthpop.
Coco: Yeah, I think it's very important to do that.

ChartBlog: Do you feel the need to explain these references, if people don't know what they are?
Coco: Um... I make songs that are more abstract, they're more interpretive for people. I think it's important to do that because everyone can have their own story behind it, you can interact and reach out to more people.

ChartBlog: Are you interested in writing your own novel?
Coco: I write stories. It's one of my hobbies, I guess. I don't really read them to anyone or show them to anyone. I kind of write songs - or anything really - to try and make sense of things: sense of myself or how I feel about a certain topic.

ChartBlog: Is it that conscious? Or do you only realise afterwards that that is what you were doing?
Coco: Songs come from the subconscious, I think. I think I trust my subconscious more than I do my conscious, cos it has the main opinion, I think.

ChartBlog: Is that what happened with 'In Spirit Golden'?
Coco: That song I wrote in an extremely subconscious way. I was on this really strong medication called Keppra, it's an anti-seizure medication. I'd was on that last year, cos I'd had this really nasty accident, and hit my head. It was all boo-hoo from then. But I'm fine now! But it's a very controlling drug, and I think my body was fighting against it so much that, every time I tried to explain how I was feeling, it came out as nonsense even though I was making sense in my head.

So I call it an intelligent nonsense song, because it's a reflection of what was really going on back then. It's quite catchy and hooky, but it doesn't really have any sense to it. Or at least, none that I can work out now. Maybe it will one day.

ChartBlog: How was it working with Robyn? She's amazing company, isn't she?
Coco: She is! She's one of the most driven human beings that I've ever met. She can do anything! She's very ambitious and professional. She's a pro at what she does.

ChartBlog: Who approached who?
Coco: I approached her, because Klas Ahlund - who produced the record - produces her records. And she was in town once, and we met up for a few drinks and just started talking about music. When I was speaking to her, I discovered this heart of punk rock that beats within that pop shell of hers. And I took her back to the studio and played her a really rough demo of 'Caesar', with me drunkenly screaming into a microphone, and she really liked it. So I said "I think you should do the chorus". And it worked out really well for both of us.

ChartBlog: What were your common musical reference points?
Coco: Well we're both big fans of HER music! I've always been a big Robyn fan. I think we just get along on a musical and friendly level.

ChartBlog: Are you tired of being asked questions about your dad?
Coco: Yeah. But I'm not tired of talking about music. It frustrates me because my father has got nothing to do with my career, and I've got nothing to do with his career. And because we protect each other we don't like to talk about each other in public. But we get on very well and I'm a big fan of his work. Y'know, he's just my dad, I guess.

ChartBlog: You've been building up your fanbase in quite a traditional way, by playing lots of small club gigs. Was this a plan to distance yourself from the idea that you might feel entitled to a career in music because of who you are?
Coco: Well there wasn't really a plan to begin with. I was in various bands, and y'know, played shows to make money. And that's how it all started out. And then someone kindly offered me a record contract and took a leap of faith with it.

ChartBlog: So it's back to that subconscious thing again.
Coco: Yeah, probably!

THE END

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I Blame Coco are also available in website form...
And BBC Music form...

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