Sometimes less is so much more, and in the case of Sumie’s self-titled debut, the combination of her voice and an acoustic guitar casts the most hypnotic and disarmingly simple spell. Born Sandra Sumie Nagano in Gothenburg, Sweden, she first began recording her songs in 2008, a few years after becoming a mother. Unlike her sister Yukimi, who fronts the electro-pop outfit Little Dragon, Sumie has pursued a solitary and acoustic path.
The album was recorded at German pianist Nils Frahm’s studio; producer (and fellow pianist) O’Halloran has given Sumie’s songs a beautifully dappled light and shade, with the occasional subtle enhancement from his own piano. Befitting Sumie’s bloodline (Swedish mother, Japanese father), the album melds both current Scandinavian and Japanese folk strains.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Sumie to discuss the record, which will be release December 3 via Bella Union (Simon Raymonde from Cocteau Twins’ label). This is what she said about it.
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
For this particular album, the timing of when and how the songs were written are really different processes. So I can’t really say.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
For the kind of songs I write, even over a period of time, any changes would be imperceptible to the listener. The original concept was really to make the record I ended up making and nothing much changed there to be honest. Tiny things like tempo or slight movements in microphone placement are really the only differences.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
Yes, Dustin O’Halloran plays the piano in one song and he also brought in Gyda Valtysdottir on cello for “Speed in to” and Iden Reinhart on violin for “Midnight glories”.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
A producer isn’t really there to change the way an artist sounds. To the contrary, their primary responsibility is to convey the personality of the artist in as honest a way as possible. I was very lucky to have Dustin O’Halloran and Nils Frahm there to capture my performances and make me feel comfortable so I could concentrate on what I needed to do.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
There was never a planned concept, more of capturing the moment to where the songs had created their own storyline to tell from start to finish.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
I have not played that many live shows yet to know exactly, but from the experience I have so far it varies depending on the room or venue I’m playing.
(Visit Sumie here:
Bella Union Website