How Art is Born
Episode 3


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:

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.

[Image description: Photo of ZEMBU standing in front of an industrial white and gray wall. A small light is above her casting a starburst light reflection. ZEMBU is wearing an amazing black blazer with teal and soft pink floral brocades. She has long, dark, curly hair.]

Photo by Jo Babb



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.”