Dear music lovers,
I wish you a sunny Sunday morning!
Today I’d like to introduce another top model that rocks the music scene.
Another protégée of Slimane, Cumming (the singer-bassist of indie rock band SUNFLOWER BEAN launched her high fashion career on the Saint Laurent runway in 2014, and hasn’t looked back since. She remains a performer first and foremost, and Sunflower Bean just wrapped a tour with ’90s group, The Pixies. Fun fact: Cumming is also a classically trained opera singer.
Sunflower Bean soundcheck, Northampton, Massachusetts, September 20, 2017. Photo by Andy DeLuca.
|Born||January 16, 1996|
|Origin||Stuyvesant Town, New York City|
|Instruments||Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Ukulele|
Cumming was born in Manhattan to parents Alec Cumming, a television writer/producer, and Cynthia Harden, a prominent epileptologist. (Harden is currently chair of the epilepsy section of the American Academy of Neurology. In the ’90s, Alec and Cynthia were a creative partnership as well as a marital one – writing, performing and releasing songs in the alternative pop band Bite The Wax Godhead (1990-1998). Julia grew up in the East Village, Manhattan, attended New York City public schools, and started a band – Supercute! – along with neighborhood friends June Lei and Rachel Trachtenburg (of the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players) in 2009. Supercute!, a bubblegum-girl-group-psychedelic-pop amalgam, created (in Cumming’s words) “ukelele rock operas“; the band lasted through 2013 with Cumming and Trachtenburg serving as their creative core. “It was almost an art project about not letting your age or being a girl stop you from trying anything,” Julia told the New Musical Express in 2016. Cumming and Trachtenburg also co-hosted a talk show (Pure Imagination, 2011-2013) on the Progressive Radio Network aimed at encouraging fellow teens to become involved in art and political action.
In 2014, Cumming graduated as a vocal music student at Professional Performing Arts School, made her acting debut in the movie short People Who Don’t Know Me, and performed solo gigs with original musical material at local clubs, often with her father accompanying her on bass. She also interned at the Museum of Modern Art where she curated an off-site show about instagram art, and where she first met acclaimed choreographer Dean Moss – who promptly cast her for a leading role in his dance piece johnbrown, which debuted at The Kitchen on October 16, 2014.
In August 2013, Cumming joined guitarist Nick Kivlen and drummer Jacob Faber in Sunflower Bean, a power trio initially based in Glen Head, New York that had started off a spin-off of the band Turnip King. In the following year, the band moved to Bushwick, Brooklyn and became a part of the borough’s thriving “DIY” scene, playing over eighty shows that year and earning themselves title of New York City’s “hardest-working band of 2014”. The band’s appearance at the 2014 CMJ Music Marathon received good notices from All Songs Considered‘s Bob Boilen, and from The New York Times‘s Jon Pareles, who wrote “New York is still home to bands as varied as Sunflower Bean, whose music suggests what might have happened if psychedelia had emerged after punk and the Police rather than before.”
The band recorded their debut EP Show Me Your Seven Secrets (initially self-released on January 27, 2015) and was signed to Fat Possum Records later that year. The album Human Ceremony was released on February 5, 2016, garnering largely positive reviews;
“I Was a Fool”, the first single released from Sunflower Bean’s upcoming second album Twentytwo In Blue, debuted on NPR‘s “Songs We Love” series on November 3, 2017. Twentytwo In Blue was released on March 23, 2018 by Mom + Pop Music in the U.S. and Lucky Number Music worldwide.
Although Cumming had done occasional modeling jobs in the Supercute! era, her fashion career really took off in February 2014, when she was asked to walk in Yves Saint Laurent’s Ready To Wear Fall Winter 2014 show in Paris. Saint Laurent’s creative director Hedi Slimane signed the musician to an exclusive modeling contract, using her in three campaigns and in six shows for Saint Laurent; Cumming was frequently referred to as “Hedi Slimane’s muse” in the press at the time.
Since then, she has modeled for Anna Sui, Elsa Schiaparelli, Max Mara, Rochas and Fausto Puglisi, appeared in global campaigns for H&M and Diesel, and was seen on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Kazakhstan and in many fashion editorials, most notably in many of Vogue’s international editions (US, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Japan. In March 2017, Cumming appeared with Madonna for Vogue Germany in the news-making film and photo spread “Her Story”, released on International Women’s Day 2017.
In 2017, Cumming founded Anger Can Be Power, a project that “endeavors to invoke the DIY spirit to inspire people to integrate political involvement in their lives”; she has hosted several public events dedicated to the topic of young people, particularly women, moving into concrete political action. Cumming is also active in the Model Alliance, and directed and produced a video featuring fellow models that encourages young people to directly call their political representatives, she also interviewed Iranian-American singer Rahill Jamalifard (from Habibi) about her experiences as a Farsi translator during the protests against Donald Trump’s travel ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“When I was a really little kid,” Cumming told the New York Times, “my parents had a VHS tape called ‘Glam Rock.’ It was about 15 songs of Gary Glitter, T. Rex and Alice Cooper, and I watched it every day until it broke.”
Other influences include The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, The Beatles, Devo, Fat White Family, Carole King, The Kinks, Cate Le Bon, Mr Little Jeans, Joni Mitchell, Kate Nash, New York Dolls, Plastic Ono Band, Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols, Tina Weymouth and Talking Heads, The Velvet Underground, The Waitresses and The Who.
Here’ s “Sunflower Bean” ft. Julia Cumming with the music video “Easier Said”
And here’ s one more music video of “Sunflower Bean” ft. Julia Cumming: “I Was A Fool”.
Julia Cumming giving make up tips in her backstage interview “Smoky Eye”
Here’s a very nice video portrait of “Sunflower Beans” ft. Julia Cumming, New York’s coolest new band.
I want to finish my story of today with an interview with “Sunflower Bean” and Julia Cumming.
I wish you a relaxed Sunday and come back tomorrow morning with a new story.