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Eliot Sumner Talks Love And “Stalker Songs”

Music
Photographed by Francesca Jane Allen.

information age

On Eliot Sumner’s debut solo album, Information, there is a song called “I Followed You Home.” “I guess I never really knew/The lengths that I would go for you/Is it dangerous if I follow you back home?” the musician sings in a brooding alto. This might well be the most sinister stalker song since The Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” and that’s not exactly a coincidence: Sting, that band’s vocalist, bassist, and principal songwriter, is Sumner’s father.

“I’ve always felt comfortable writing stalker songs,” says Sumner. “I like to write from a dark place. Happy songs, for me, are two-dimensional. Darker ones have greater depth.” Consequently, Sumner's love songs don’t sound like other people’s love songs: “The subject of love, for me, is all about obsession. It’s not about feeling happy and nice, it’s about feeling physically sick. I can’t do anything when I’m in love. It’s a terrible feeling.”

Click through the gallery to read the rest of our feature on Eliot Sumner from the December/January 2016 issue of NYLON.

We are in Knightsbridge, one of London’s wealthiest neighborhoods, where Sumner spends at least half the year (the musician also lives in Brooklyn). Specifically, we are in Sumner's local pub, the Nag’s Head. “I write a lot of songs in here, especially after a few of these,” the singer says, holding up a pint.

The offspring of famous people—Sumner’s mother is the film producer Trudie Styler—often struggle to make their own mark in life, but Sumner, now 25, appears to have found a voice. Five years ago, the singer was making music under the name I Blame Coco. There was an album, but it didn’t sell well, and the very mention of it today causes a wince. “Oh,” Sumner says. “Um. I don’t like to dwell on that period too much, to be honest. I was too young, I didn’t know what I wanted. So I think I systematically sabotaged my career. I just wasn’t into it. I was unhappy.”

Sumner’s more upbeat these days, despite the appealingly moody and pensive aura. This could be due to the fact that Information is a terrific record, full of angular pop songs drenched in analog synthesizers and crisp melodies reminiscent of the 1980s. “Dead Arms & Dead Legs” is haunted by New Order; Annie Lennox could have sung “What Good Could Ever Come of This.” On “Let My Love Lie on Your Life,” Sumner sounds so much like Sting, it’s eerie. What knits everything together is Sumner’s perpetual frown, both literal and figurative. The musician does alienation very well, and not just in song. In the flesh, Sumner is shy and surly, with skin pale, and unbrushed hair. The artist finds fashion “terrifying” —despite having a model for a girlfriend (Sumner won’t tell me her name, but they’ve been together for two years)—and dresses only in black. Today the musician’s in a shapeless jumper, which peels back to reveal a faded black Kenny G shirt. “I fucking love this T-shirt,” Sumner says, beaming. “It’s so comfortable.” The musician's long johns, meanwhile, are not of the drugstore variety, but rather Boris Bidjan Saberi. They retail for $400 a pair (so maybe Sumner’s not that terrified of fashion).

Photographed by Francesa Jane Allen.

While growing up, Sumner struggled to govern moods and their unpredictable swings. The artist was less content at school than when roaming the family's woodland estate. “I’m just so happy to have music in my life now, because I can channel all those feelings into something positive and creative,” Sumner says. The artist has a lot of family support, “particularly from my mum,” but it’s abundantly clear that Sumner wants to assert a unique identity, and nobody else’s. In other words, the less said about Sting, the better.

“For me, music is an art. It should be real, and it should be true,” Sumner says and drains a pint with satisfaction. “Everything else is just bullshit, right?”

Photographed by Francesca Jane Allen.

Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

It marks her third duet with Nas

Here are some words that I never expected to read or hear again: There is a new song with Amy Winehouse. But here we are in 2019, and Salaam Remi has granted me a wish. On Valentine's Day, the Grammy-nominated producer and frequent Winehouse collaborator (also responsible for hits like Miguel's "Come Through & Chill") released "Find My Love" which features rapper Nas and that powerful and haunting voice that I have come to love and cherish so dearly.

Representatives for Remi said that the Winehouse vocals were from an old jam session the two had. Remi was a producer on both of Winehouse's albums, Frank and Back to Black. "Find My Love" marks the third time Winehouse and Nas have done duets under the direction of Remi. They were previously heard together on "Like Smoke," a single from her 2011 posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, and "Cherry Wine" from Nas' 2012 album Life Is Good. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, before they could complete production on her third album. My heart is still broken about it as she is by far my favorite artist.

"Find My Love" is set to appear on Remi's Do It for the Culture 2, a collection of songs curated by him. Check it out, below.

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Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

"In the midst of chaos there's opportunity"

Following the travesty that was Fyre Festival, Ja Rule wants to take another stab at creating a music festival. Good luck getting that off the ground.

On Thursday, the rapper spoke to TMZ, where he revealed that he was planning to relaunch Icon, an app used to book entertainers, which is similar to Billy McFarland's Fyre app. He told the outlet that he wanted to create a festival similar to Fyre to support it.

"[Fyre Festival] is heartbreaking to me. It was something that I really, really wanted to be special and amazing, and it just didn't turn out that way, but in the midst of chaos there's opportunity, so I'm working on a lot of new things," he says. He then gets into the fact that he wants to form a music festival. "[Fyre] is the most iconic festival that never was... I have plans to create the iconic music festival, but you didn't hear it from me."

Ja Rule actually doesn't seem to think he is at all responsible for what came from Fyre Fest, claiming in a Twitter post that he was "hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, led astray." Even if that's his feeling, he should realize that anyone involved with Fyre shouldn't ever try their hand at music festivals again.

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