Born in northern Italy on July 30, 1990, Eliot Pauline Sumner received a first-rate musical education from her father, Sting. She grew up in a small village in Wiltshire, England, and kept herself largely removed from the glamour and glitz of her father’s career. By her mid-teens, however, “Coco” Sumner had taken a cue from her dad by composing reggae-flavored songs of her own, many of which were posted to her MySpace page. Several labels took interest in the material, and she subsequently signed a multi-album deal with Island Records.
While working on her debut album, the 18-year-old Sumner assembled a small band that included session keyboardist Emlyn Maillard and multi-instrumentalist Al Shux (who produced Jay-Z’s chart-topping “Empire State of Mind” in 2009). Sporting a fashionable sound that sampled equally from pop, ska, and electro-punk, I Blame Coco began releasing songs in early 2010, including a duet with the Swedish pop vocalist Robyn. I Blame Coco’s debut album, The Constant, appeared later that year.
After spending a couple of years working on new songs, in 2014 Sumner announced that she would henceforth release music under her birth name. The Information EP arrived that August. A pair of songs from that debut EP eventually made their way to her first proper solo full-length, also titled Information, which was released in January 2016.
The hazy charm of Cheerleader first shimmered into existence at a Hartford, Connecticut middle school. Here, Joe Haller and Chris Duran cut their musical teeth in Duran’s parents’ basement, and their friendship and musical chemistry sparked a connection that survived the 2000s and colleges in separate states. Reconnecting in their hometown in 2012, Haller and Duran decided it was time to devote themselves to their music. “We sort of realized that, crazy pipedream or not, we owed it to ourselves to give it a shot,” Duran says. On a whim, the duo moved to Philadelphia to start compiling new material.
Sometimes, it really does boil down to who you know. Shortly after Derek Van Gieson first moved to Minneapolis, he met fellow guitarist Chris White through an ex-post-hardcore-punk pal. For a year or so, Derek and Chris stockpiled hundreds of songs. The songs ran the gamut of 60s pop/garage nuggets, gothic folk, chaotic post-punk, 80s funk and R&B, country/western, shoegaze, rockabilly, and surf. It could have been a real hot mess, but Derek brought Tess Weinberg in to the picture and she tied the whole thing together with her sultry cross-genre vocals.