Both 21-year-old Eliot “Coco” Sumner and her brother have followed in their famous father’s footsteps.
21-year-old Eliot “Coco” Sumner is the lead singer of indie rock band I Blame Coco and the daughter of the singularly-named musician, Sting and actress Trudie Styler. Her half-brother Joseph Sumner (whose mother is Sting’s first wife, actress Frances Tomelty) also leads his own band called Fiction Plane.
Sting and Trudie Styler’s daughter, Coco Sumner, 19, has just recorded her debut pop album, The Constant, with her band, I Blame Coco, to be released later this year. Her husky, low voice in the catchy and dark pop songs, including her new single, “Self Machine”, out in June, sounds at times uncannily like Sting. But it can’t be easy living in the shadow of a megastar dad and Sting Jr couldn’t be less of a showbiz kid. Her feelings about this unavoidable issue are made clear in an early demo, “My Name is a Stain”, when she sings “Forget my dad, you need to hear my band.”
Her mentors are Ian Brown, who describes her lyrics as “mega” and the rapper Plan B, who recently performed with her. She has just collaborated with Fyfe Dangerfield of The Guillemots on a limited edition vinyl version of the Neil Young classic “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” and she features on the new Sub Focus drum’n’bass single “Splash”, which is out next month.
Preferring to sleep on friends’ sofas – although she owns a house in Victoria and has just bought a cottage in Wiltshire – she has refreshingly dirty nails and is fiercely independent, despite Sting’s estimated wealth of £180m. She started making music at the age of four, while holed up in her bedroom at the family’s sprawling Elizabethan mansion in Wiltshire, after her dad bought her a guitar, but her parent’s never heard any of it.
“Music for me has always been a secret. When I was younger I kept music as my personal thing that I would never tell anyone about,” she says, looking awkward. “It was very private to me. So I’d secretly write songs and then I’d never play them to anyone.”
By the age of nine, she was self-taught at the guitar and banging out every chord sequence of her favourite album, The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks, and felt like she “never fitted in anywhere”.
Sumner is unconventionally beautiful with dark hair and seductive eyes – although, strangely, she says, “I hate my face”. Wearing red shorts and a white dress-shirt and ankle-length riding boots, she resembles a tomboy, while her long stick-like legs have goose pimples from the cold. She seems to be living in a world of her own and has an otherworldly quality to her as she sits down on the sofa, covering herself with an overcoat to stay warm.
“I’m living out of my suitcase. Why? I don’t know really. I’ve never really unpacked my suitcase. I always feel like I’m going somewhere. It’s part of who I am. I don’t know what it is. It’s just an instinct to keep moving like a nomad,” she tells me quietly, in a slow and thoughtful way.
Her German shepherd dog called Aldous, after Huxley, also adds to her slightly grungey but bohemian lifestyle. “I’m not jet-set. I don’t really have the money to fly everywhere. I don’t take money from my parents.”
Coco – whose real name is Eliot Pauline Sumner – grew up at Lake House, near Salisbury, in Wiltshire. Her nanny used to play her Ian Dury and the Blockheads on her way to school. As a teenager she played Sly and Robbie and Lee Scratch Perry – not The Police.
“Every kid wants to be a vet when they are younger – then I wanted to be a bank robber before I started playing music. The first song I wrote at 14 was called “Kato”, a little reggae song. I haven’t listened to that for a while.” She did sometimes hang out backstage at her dad’s stadium concerts – “maybe I was a bit oblivious to it all. I was young I can’t remember,” but she mainly led a rural life away from the limelight.