Creating through grief with indie-pop producer and recording artist ZEMBU
Recording artist and indie-pop producer Sarah Pumpian grew up in a musical household near Seattle. She would wake up to the sound of her mother’s vocal students warming up, spent her childhood singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on the family’s karaoke machine, and even performed on tour in Japan with her mother. But after her mother’s death when she was 15 years old, Sarah pushed away her love for singing. It wasn’t until after college when a friend invited her to a jam session that her passion was reignited and she decided to pursue music professionally. Today, she writes and produces her own songs and tours as ZEMBU. In this episode of How Art is Born, Sarah and Alan discuss roadblocks in an artist's career, mental health and grieving the loss of one's greatest artistic advocate, and how to balance creativity and commerce as a professional artist.
Learn more about ZEMBU on the Japanese Arts Network’s AMPLIFY platform
Links discussed in this episode:
- ZEMBU’s website
- Follow ZEMBU on Instagram
- Follow ZEMBU on Spotify
- Beats by Girlz Fort Collins chapter
- R. Alan Brooks’ TEDx Talk “When the world is burning, is art a waste of time?”
- Crying in H Mart (the memoir Sarah references by Japanese Breakfast)
This episode contains discussion of depression and suicide. If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States at 1-800-273-8255.
ZEMBU is an indie-pop producer and artist based out of Denver. She combines ethereal, warm production with layers of soulful vocals and reflective lyricism centered around the intersection of her identities, mental health, and social issues. With over 1 million streams across Spotify Editorial playlists, ZEMBU has been featured in Nylon Magazine and named one of the “19 Denver Musicians to Watch in 2021” by 303 Magazine. Atwood Magazine calls ZEMBU’s 2020 debut EP Recall a “dazzling, iconic work of art” and an “utter masterpiece.”
Special thanks to ZEMBU for letting us use her song "Overgrown" in this week's episode. Listen to the full song here.
R. Alan Brooks (00:00):
A quick warning, this episode includes discussion of depression and suicide. Hey, I'm R. Alan Brooks, a writer and professor. This is How Art is Born, an MCA Denver podcast about the origins of artists and their creative and artistic practice.
R. Alan Brooks (00:30):
Today I'm joined by indie pop producer and artist, Sarah Pumpian otherwise known as ZEMBU. To start off, Sarah, can you give us a brief overview of who you are and what you do?
Sarah Pumpian (00:41):
Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. Well, I make music as ZEMBU, and that takes up a lot of my time. I perform, tour when that was happening.
R. Alan Brooks (00:54):
Sarah Pumpian (00:55):
And I run Beats By Girlz chapter in Fort Collins, in the Northern Colorado area, bringing music production education and mentorship to girls and gender-expansive youth.
R. Alan Brooks (01:11):
Wow, that's a lot of cool stuff.
Sarah Pumpian (01:12):
That's how I spend most of my time.
R. Alan Brooks (01:15):
All right. Well, Sarah, where are you from originally?
Sarah Pumpian (01:19):
I grew up outside of Seattle, Washington.
R. Alan Brooks (01:21):
Okay. I want to hear about how you connected with art originally. What are your earliest memories of either finding art that you loved, or creating art? What do you think were your first interactions with it?
Sarah Pumpian (01:40):
I can remember interacting with music since the time I can remember. My parents met at music school, and my mom was a singer songwriter. My dad plays the harmonica.
R. Alan Brooks (01:57):
Sarah Pumpian (01:57):
And then I'm the youngest of three children. And my brother played the drums. My sister played the piano, and I sing. I loved, loved singing. So, I just grew up in a really musical households. And my mom was teaching vocals out of the house, and so, her students were constantly over. I was waking up on weekends to people doing warmups, and it was just a constant.
Sarah Pumpian (02:35):
And my mom performed, and was an organizer herself. And really weaved music into her activism, which music is activism. But yeah. So, just some of my earliest memories are singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," blaring it on the stereo and yeah, I just loved singing from a young age, and it's all I wanted.
R. Alan Brooks (03:10):
That's really cool to hear, just how deeply ingrained music was in your family. What was it about music that spoke to you? Like, how did it affect you? What did you feel when you woke up to hearing people do those warmups?
Sarah Pumpian (03:26):
I feel like it just felt part of my DNA. I don't know. It just felt the way of being, and I would wake up, and once they would all leave, I would take over the karaoke machine and just have my turn at it. But yeah, I don't know. It just made me feel good. I loved it.
R. Alan Brooks (03:54):
That's really cool. Because some people, they have sort of like a moment when they realize they wanted to create art, and not just enjoy it. But it sounds like it was just always with you.
Sarah Pumpian (04:08):
R. Alan Brooks (04:08):
Did you learn to play instruments too, or was singing kind of your main focus?
Sarah Pumpian (04:13):
Singing was my main focus. I think it was really good, because it didn't, at least for a period of time, it didn't push me away. I wonder sometimes if she had been like, take vocal lessons with me, I would've been more distant from it.
Sarah Pumpian (04:32):
But yeah, I just sang, I did a little bit of piano, but as the youngest child, I got myself out of everything I didn't want to do. And piano was one of those. And I really wish I had stuck with it, but yeah, singing was my main focus. And I have kind of a really disjointed relationship with music.
Sarah Pumpian (05:04):
So, that was my childhood. It was so colorful, and so much music and sound in the household all the time. And then, my mom started navigating a lot with her mental health when I was around 10 years old. And she ultimately died by suicide when I was 15.
R. Alan Brooks (05:22):
I'm sorry to hear that.
Sarah Pumpian (05:23):
Thank you. It was hard. But 10 to 15, there was just no space for it anymore. It felt like the lights just turned off, and things got really serious and challenging. And I just pushed music away. And especially after she died, it felt like something of the past by then, but she was definitely my biggest advocate in pursuing music and encouraging me.
Sarah Pumpian (06:02):
We did this tour in Japan. I'm Japanese, and that's a whole another story. I was so we involved in music and yeah, it was just too close to home after she died. And it took about 10 years of just space and healing to even find my voice again. And that was about five years ago.
R. Alan Brooks (06:30):
Wow. Okay. So, during the years when you weren't doing music, I guess, what was that experience like for you? Because it had been something that was such a part of your life, your expression, your identity. What did it feel like to be away from it for so long?
Sarah Pumpian (06:50):
Well, I think while I was going through it, I wasn't thinking about it. I mean, I went through a lot of, it was just a lot of trauma, and just the way that I think my child brain was working was just like shut off, gone. And I didn't really think about it.
Sarah Pumpian (07:11):
Actually, I know deep inside there was a huge loss, but I wasn't really connecting the dots at that time. And I filled that time with a lot of partying, a lot of just navigating grief and trying to get through high school, and yeah.
Sarah Pumpian (07:40):
I actually was really interested. I was still really interested. I still wasn't connecting the dots at this point, but I was really interested in music, and I wanted to be on the business side of music. So, I wanted to be in marketing, or part of the production team. And so, in college, I worked for KEXP, which is a radio station in Seattle. This music festival called Decibel. I really wanted to be in the music scene, but I'd thought from more of behind the scenes place.
Sarah Pumpian (08:22):
And after college basically, I connected with a friend, and then jammed, and that was kind of it.
R. Alan Brooks (08:32):
Well, yeah. So, I actually want to hear more about like how you found your way back to this old familiar friend, music. It was, you said you connected with a friend and you guys got together and jammed?
Sarah Pumpian (08:46):
Yeah. Basically, more or less. It was, I went traveling for about six months on my own, went backpacking on my own. And that was just the first time I was really taken outside of the environment that I had been in for a long time. And yeah, I just grew so much during that time, and healed a lot too.
Sarah Pumpian (09:15):
And I think it allowed for more space and capacity for me to realize, oh, I used to sing. It felt like a light went off in my head. It really felt like I had totally forgotten about it. But during that time, I just wanted to identify a little more with it. So, I decided to say that I sing, and that ended up me being in a conversation with this old college friend. And he was like, "Yeah, you should come jam."
Sarah Pumpian (09:56):
And I was so nervous. So out of my element, I felt, and yeah, that was just the beginning of it all. And I just immediately fell back in love with it. And we made this song together and put it out. And it was just a really transformative of experience for me. To one, just feel how much I loved writing, and then singing, and then releasing it to the world.
Sarah Pumpian (10:29):
And at that time, I was working a business consulting job, and was really my miserable. And in hindsight, I really needed to have that experience for me to reach out to music again, and just be so desperate for something to feed my soul, during that time. And I reached out to this friend, and we created this song, and I ultimately ended up quitting my job, and then moved to Colorado, and decided to pursue music.
R. Alan Brooks (11:07):
Nice. Wow. Well, high five to you on that.
Sarah Pumpian (11:10):
R. Alan Brooks (11:12):
You know, it's an interesting thing, because a lot of people, when dealing with grief, take refuge in their art, but because your art was so connected with your mother, you didn't really have that. So, when you came back to singing, did you feel any kind of renewed connection with your mother, or was it separate?
Sarah Pumpian (11:39):
Absolutely. And it's been a journey. I felt that immediately for sure. But it's just gotten deeper over the years. Because I think it was so new, and I kind of quickly decided I wanted to make it, if I could, a career.
Sarah Pumpian (12:00):
And so, I think there was a lot going on of, how do I make this happen, and figuring things out. I was in a couple different bands as the lead singer. Yeah, so just figuring out how to be a musician and what that was all about.
Sarah Pumpian (12:19):
And definitely, all the while, I was feeling my mom a lot and felt more connected to her than I had in a long time. But honestly, right now know, five years in, and doing my own project ZEMBU now, and just really developing as an artist, I'm connecting with her more than I ever have.
R. Alan Brooks (12:48):
Wow. That's really cool.
Sarah Pumpian (12:49):
R. Alan Brooks (12:51):
You also mentioned that your mom, that activism was a big part of her music, and I got the impression that activism is also important to you in music. So can you talk a little bit about that?
Sarah Pumpian (13:05):
Well, it is funny, and very unplanned. I am so walking in my mom's footsteps. She immigrated here from Japan when she was 24, I think, maybe 25. And I moved to Colorado when I was 24, to pursue music. And my mom also moved to LA to pursue music when she was 24.
Sarah Pumpian (13:36):
And then yeah, she was pursuing her artistry, just music for a while. And then, once my brother and sister were born, she really became wanting to become really involved in, just really saw how it starts with the youth, and the youth are our future.
Sarah Pumpian (14:00):
And so, a lot of her work, it was peace advocacy work. And really she was hoping to instill the concept of peace and have conversations about peace with children at a young age, basically. And used the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, as really the kind of vessel in the storytelling.
Sarah Pumpian (14:32):
And then, kind of bouncing over to me. I mean, my songs and songwriting, so much is about my mom. So, many of my songs are about my mom. And there's so much wrapped up in that of, talking about suicide, mental health, suicide prevention in a way that doesn't feel like it's the major conversation is suicide prevention. Actually, looks like dismantling white supremacy, and access to healthcare, and access to stable housing.
Sarah Pumpian (15:17):
And I see so much with my mom as an immigrant and Japanese woman, she did have a beautiful experience living here, but she also faced racism, and discrimination, and misogyny. And so, it's all wrapped up in it. So, I think it allows me to have those larger conversations. And then, I'm really passionate about upbringing gender and racial equity to the music technology industry. And so, that's why I got involved with Beats By Girlz.
R. Alan Brooks (16:14):
Okay. Let's talk a little bit about Beats By Girlz. What is it, and what's the focus of it?
Sarah Pumpian (16:22):
I mean, really it's to create spaces that send our girls and gender-expansive youth, and bring access to instruction, music production instruction, and equipment, and also being taught by women, trans, and non-binary music producers, and have that representation so that the students can see themselves reflected back at them, and imagine themselves.
Sarah Pumpian (16:55):
For me, I kind of stumbled into production, because I saw myself as a singer, right? I mean, singing is so sacred to me and is my instrument, for sure.
Sarah Pumpian (17:15):
And what did I see in front of me? I saw female vocalists, and that's what I wanted to be. But I, just through, like, different collaborations that didn't work out for various reasons, I originally wanted to just sing on stuff and not produce my own music. I was like, I just want to sing.
Sarah Pumpian (17:42):
And then basically, it got to a point where I had to produce my own music, because it just wasn't working out, and I had to learn. And then I realized, wow, I want to learn, I want to empower myself, I want to be a badass female music producer. In this 98% of music producers are men, white men often.
Sarah Pumpian (18:09):
But yeah, so the gender disparity is really huge and it's really felt, so it definitely has given me some fire to want to dismantle that.
R. Alan Brooks (18:27):
That's really cool. Okay. So, I hear you talking about a lot of the issues that you'd like to address in your music. I want to kind of talk about how you address it, right? Because some people take the approach of say, creating art that doesn't directly address a subject, but then, when they show up to speak somewhere, they address it. Other people are more direct in their messages. How do you go about incorporating the things you believe into your music?
Sarah Pumpian (18:58):
Yeah. I think I do use storytelling when I'm performing. So, I use it, like you were saying, I don't speak maybe as directly to the issues themselves in my songs, but then before I perform it, I will give a little context to that song, and be able to speak to it more.
Sarah Pumpian (19:26):
I would say my style of songwriting, is speaking to the ache and the pain and grief I've felt. For example, one song that's really literal, one lyric in it is, I never wanted to believe you would choose to leave. I always wanted to believe you would stay with me. So, that's about my mom.
R. Alan Brooks (19:56):
Yeah. I think this has come up in a lot of these talks with people, with artists is, how some art is for us, like as the artist it's to release or work through the thing we're struggling with. Some art is for carrying a message that we want to carry to the world. Do you have a vision of how you want people to be affected by your music? Is there like a reaction or a result that you want?
Sarah Pumpian (20:31):
Definitely. I think right now the style of writing that I'm doing, I really want the music to just strike a chord in someone, that allows someone to feel seen. And that it just relays a message that they needed to hear in that very moment.
R. Alan Brooks (21:03):
I love that.
Sarah Pumpian (21:06):
I haven't thought about it.
R. Alan Brooks (21:08):
This is what happens when I ask the deep questions.
Sarah Pumpian (21:10):
R. Alan Brooks (21:15):
How do you choose? Are there ideas that you kind of reject, like, you get part way into something and you feel like it's not working? Do you push through it? Do you say, "Wait, this isn't what I was going for." Like, how are you choosing which songs make the cut?
Sarah Pumpian (21:32):
Yeah, I think that I'm getting more, not picky, but with it now, I've just been really developing as a songwriter over these past five years, which isn't that long. When I first started, I would say my level of discernment of what made the cut or not, I was like, "That sounds pretty good. All right. Let's go with that."
Sarah Pumpian (22:02):
And I think now, I'm really asking the question of, does that make me feel something? Could I do better? Is there a better way to say that? And so, I'm definitely just being a little more critical, but not in a harsh way, I guess. Sometimes it can be harsh.
Sarah Pumpian (22:31):
But there's just a feeling. I know that feeling so well, it's in my body of when I'm like, "Damn, okay." I feel that. I felt that. So, I think, I wait until that can happen.
R. Alan Brooks (22:49):
Okay. And that's really dope. So, one of the things that I noticed as a common thing with all of us as artists is, pushing through whatever fear or insecurity we have as an artist. And I find that a lot of artists try to overcome that, by making sure that they never fail, which I don't think is a practical plan or sustainable.
R. Alan Brooks (23:19):
So, the reason I bring that up is because it's helpful, I think for people who are listening, if we could talk about times that something didn't work out according to plan. You may not even think of it as a failure, it could just be something that didn't go the way that you planned. Do you have any examples of that in this five year journey?
Sarah Pumpian (23:38):
Probably. Definitely a lot. I think what's coming up for me right now is, right now. I told you at the beginning of this, I listened to your TED talk and it was just medicine for me.
Sarah Pumpian (23:56):
And I'm just going through a period right now of feeling really burnt out. I think because striving too hard for that perfectionism, and delivery, and being a product of capitalism, and feeling so much pressure to produce, and yeah, make good art and get it out there and be successful, whatever that means.
Sarah Pumpian (24:35):
And I'm really at a point of just fed up with living like this, and putting myself under so much pressure like that. And I feel like I can feel depression creeping in, and trying to be with it all, but I definitely didn't plan this, but I think it's something I really, I need to go... I feel so deeply though, even though it feels hard right now, I feel it's something I need to go through and I'm kind of ready for it. For it to just kind of all collapse a little bit, and to pick up the pieces.
Sarah Pumpian (25:24):
Do you ever have that feeling of just kind of trying to make something happen so much, and striving for that unattainable perfection? And sometimes it just all needs to collapse for it to really shake shit up.
R. Alan Brooks (25:47):
Sarah Pumpian (25:48):
That's kind of where I'm at right now.
R. Alan Brooks (25:52):
Well, how do you push forward? What are your strategies for like when you feel in that kind of collapse, how do you make sure that that isn't the end of your artistic endeavors?
Sarah Pumpian (26:06):
Yeah. I think I'm definitely asking myself those questions right now. But I'm definitely taking some stuff off my plate. I need some space, and time, and rest. And more than ever, I just feel such a thirst at the same time, to just be an artist right now.
Sarah Pumpian (26:37):
And I've for the whole time, I've been working multiple jobs, and I just really want to try to figure out how I can... Which is, I feel like so many artists' dilemma of trying to make ends meet, so they can pursue their art, for sure. But I feel like for a while I was feeling like I can manage all of this, and do that job, and that project.
Sarah Pumpian (27:09):
And I think I'm just at a point of just being spread a little too thin, and really want to figure out how to just make my art happen. So, I think that piece, changing my environment a little bit, moving to Denver, very excited for that.
R. Alan Brooks (27:30):
Sarah Pumpian (27:31):
And I think another piece that has happened recently for me is kind of related, is I did this little artist retreat for myself a couple days ago, which was just going offline pretty much.
R. Alan Brooks (27:48):
Good for you.
Sarah Pumpian (27:51):
Yeah, that's the good stuff. But I'm writing an album right now. And I'm just kind of taking in what's coming, and not really judging it. Except one thing, I was judging... The songs that just pour out me are the songs about my mom.
Sarah Pumpian (28:15):
And I have a voice in my head has judged myself for, like, time has passed and you're still talking about this, and sort of that stigma we have in our society that as time goes by, you should be better, which we know that grief doesn't work like that, but still feeling that influence.
Sarah Pumpian (28:42):
And yeah, I just had this really amazing -- this is going off on another tangent, but -- experience reading this memoir by Japanese Breakfast and basically she's amazing. And her mom died, and she wrote two grief albums. And I was like, "Wow, she wrote two grief albums. I can write a grief album." And I think that I just finally gave myself permission. And I think carrying into this n ext kind of chapter, that I'm headed in towards of kind of letting go of the perfection, all that and stuff. I'm going to write a grief album, and just let that be.
R. Alan Brooks (29:30):
Sarah Pumpian (29:32):
And not judge it. So, that's my plan.
R. Alan Brooks (29:36):
There's a lot to be said about trying to combine art and commerce, like you were saying, like trying to make a living out off of it, but still being able to execute art in a way that is cathartic to your soul. You know, whatever reason we started doing art, sometimes we get a little further and further way from that, the more we're trying to figure out how to make a business out of it. And so, trying to find that perfect balance is really tricky.
Sarah Pumpian (30:12):
Yes. Have you found it?
R. Alan Brooks (30:12):
That's a good question. I think yes, after a lot of frustration. I used to focus on music. I performed around Denver for maybe, I don't know, maybe a decade. I would rap and have jazz musicians back me up.
Sarah Pumpian (30:30):
R. Alan Brooks (30:32):
And there would be bands that open for me, that would get into music festivals, but they wouldn't let me in. I wouldn't get any press, and I would be out here grinding, I would be sending out press releases.
Sarah Pumpian (30:43):
R. Alan Brooks (30:45):
I remember once, there were some friends of mine, they had been on sabbatical for a year, so they did no shows, and somehow they showed up in the "Best Of" in the newspaper for that year. And I was like, they haven't done shows in a year.
Sarah Pumpian (31:01):
Of course, that would happened.
R. Alan Brooks (31:03):
And it just frustrated me so much. So, I hear what you're saying. And so, the approach that I take these days is, I create the thing that's true to me, and then I think separately about how to market it, and recognizing that those are separate things, makes it a little better for me.
R. Alan Brooks (31:23):
Because I think finishing something is a job, but figuring out how to sell it is a whole other job. So, with you having that background in music business stuff, do you combine, when you're making songs, are you thinking about how to sell it, or do you even think about that at all?
Sarah Pumpian (31:39):
I do. It's hard for me to separate it. When I'm writing a song, I'm not actively being like, "Okay, this is how I'm going to promote it." And blah, blah, blah. But I am thinking that, oh, this is good. And this'll be good for this song that eventually, I'll be going through things.
Sarah Pumpian (32:06):
Like right now even, just kind of navigating this time. What I know I need is to just feel it, and be with it and not have any agenda. But then, at the same time, I know my best art is born from these raw emotions. So, in the back of my head, there's a little bit of an agenda of, like, oh, maybe you should like synthesize this down so you can make it into a good song. And then, the rest unfolds.
R. Alan Brooks (32:42):
Sarah Pumpian (32:43):
So, I think part, I really want to work on getting that out of my head right more. It can be really quiet sometimes, but it's kind of always there.
R. Alan Brooks (32:57):
Yeah. So, like as a writer, there are things that make a story accessible. There's tools you use, like, you have a main character that people can connect with. You have to give people a reason to connect with them. Then you have to think about what journey you're taking your reader on. And that's all like structure stuff.
R. Alan Brooks (33:20):
Same thing with songs, right? Like, you can get as complex as you want musically, but if you have a chorus that people can sing, or remember, or easily digest, that usually makes it more accessible to them. I think for me, I try to think about things like structure in the creation of art, but I'm not trying to think about, if I deal with this subject, will people buy this? Because that will really mess me up. You know? It's kind of a tricky balance.
Sarah Pumpian (33:54):
R. Alan Brooks (33:54):
So, in trying to strike that balance, I keep things way out of my head. Sometimes it comes together organically. For example, I just wrote a comic about a woman dealing with grief regarding her mother. And the artist that I work with... So, I wrote it and an artist named Sarah Menzel Trapl, drew it. And she asked that the character be plus-size, which I thought was a great idea.
R. Alan Brooks (34:24):
And Sarah's also plus-sized. And she said that in drawing the comic, it ended up healing her of some of her own fat phobia, which is not something I could have predicted. But the cool thing was that that was a sincere experience that she had, so then when it came time to send out press releases, I asked her if that was something she felt good talking about, and she did.
R. Alan Brooks (34:51):
And so, that became kind of the way that we marketed it to the press. And that has almost nothing to do with the actual story, but we marketed based on more of what her experience was in creating the story. But I could not have predicted that, that would've come up. So, if I were trying to think of how to market it in the creation of the story, I might have written a story that I didn't like.
Sarah Pumpian (35:16):
R. Alan Brooks (35:17):
So that's my little sharing thing.
Sarah Pumpian (35:21):
No, that's really powerful. And I think speaks to how you definitely cannot plan how your art will have a life of its own and impact others, and just each step of the way being as genuine and sincere to yourself, and your collaborators is the only way to make it happen.
R. Alan Brooks (35:50):
Right on. So Sarah, what kind of things do you find recharge you artistically? You talked about like a retreat here and there. What kind of things inspire you?
Sarah Pumpian (36:02):
Definitely, space, nature, rest, being offline. It's amazing, I think just being offline, it all comes flooding in, and just creating a little bit of space. So, I think that's been a big lesson for me this past summer of, I can do that, I can implement that.
Sarah Pumpian (36:26):
Because it really inspires me, to just have space and not have a ton of loose ends in my mind that I need to... Because it's all there. I think there's just so much ready to pour out, and still pour out of me that I'm just still uncovering.
Sarah Pumpian (36:44):
Because I feel like I had this long disconnection from music, and I didn't have the vehicle of songwriting and music for all those years that I was experiencing so much. So, I think so much is in me, it's just really about creating that space where it can come through. But yeah, nature, definitely.
R. Alan Brooks (37:12):
All right. Now that you've had this sort of five year experience as a musician, if you were able to talk to the high school you, all those years that you were not connected to music, is there some kind of advice that you would give?
Sarah Pumpian (37:29):
That's a good question. I would tell my high school self to hold on. Life is worth living, and what feels impossible right now will fuel you in a way you can't even begin to imagine. But just trust that you're going through exactly what you need to be going through, and joy will enter your life again.
R. Alan Brooks (38:09):
Wow. I love that. That's great. I can feel the passion, the purity of your passion for what you do. Like it's really dope. It just permeates off of you.
Sarah Pumpian (38:23):
Oh, thank you.
R. Alan Brooks (38:25):
I say that because I think a lot of times we can't always gauge ourselves, we can't know how the world experiences us. But there's so much purity in it.
R. Alan Brooks (38:38):
And you were talking about working on the grief album. Normally at this point I kind of ask what's coming next? Like, what do you foresee as the next chapter in the Sarah Pumpian novel? But I guess, is the grief album the thing, or are there other things that you have in mind?
Sarah Pumpian (38:57):
I think for right now, yeah. I think that's all I'm going to put on my plate right now. And also, I think that's what I need. Though I have many big dreams and all that, I think I want to write this grief album, and I have a loose timeline for spring, basically to release it. But I'm just going to focus on just making art, because it feels good. And really shutting out all the rest. And also really cultivating community. That's something I really want.
R. Alan Brooks (39:46):
All right. Sarah, my last question is, if people want to check out you and your music, where can they find you?
Sarah Pumpian (39:53):
Yeah, for sure. Any streaming platform, Spotify, Apple Music, ZEMBU Z-E-M-B-U. And that's pretty much it, and/or my Instagram, we can connect on Instagram, which is zembumusic.
R. Alan Brooks (40:12):
Right on. All right. Well, Sarah, thank you so much. This was a really cool conversation. I really appreciate you sharing.
Sarah Pumpian (40:20):
Thank you so much for facilitating this conversation, and yeah, just being you. And again, thank you, I really needed to hear your TED talk. So, I appreciate it.
R. Alan Brooks (40:35):
Right on. Thank you to today's guest, Sarah Pumpian. Visit mcadenver.org/podcast to learn more about her music. Also, Sarah was recently featured on the Japanese Arts Network's Amplify platform. You can check that out at the link in our show notes. Special thanks to Sarah, AKA ZEMBU for letting us use her song "Overgrown" in this week's episode. You can find the full version wherever you get your music.
R. Alan Brooks (40:56):
Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe for more, and leave a review. It really helps us out. How Art is Born is hosted by me, R. Alan Brooks, Cheyenne Michaels is our producer and editor. Courtney Law is our executive producer. How Art is Born as a project of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. (music)