Said the Guests: Rachell Sumpter
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Rachell Sumpter is an artist and when I saw her work for the first time, I didn't think "Ooh, that's pretty." No - her painting startled me. I felt something jolt; I don't know what. Something.

I explored her paintings in silence. I imagined them on a wall in LA, little pieces of paper on a big wall, and these figures on them. Bright colours, but so soft. Figures crouching or kneeling, standing or lying down. Figures that might be sad or in love or terrified, terrified, riding sharks or posing proud on polar bears. Somehow I recognised the images, recognised the silence and the colour and the way the figures - the Inuit - stood together. I'll often forget about a dream and then remember it as true. But these small paintings, these scenes of jellyfish and weaponry and quiet purpose, I think they must be things that are true but that I'm remembering as dream.

Every weekday, we at Said the Gramophone try to paint in words what we hear in the songs we love. Sometimes we invite guests - musicians, critics - to do the same. And sometimes we invite artists. But we ask the artists to paint not in words but to paint in paint. Or in ink, or in pixels.

Rachell Sumpter has painted in paint. These are three paintings for three songs, three songs that seem still but underneath are moving. Like the sea can be. Or the ice. Or a human face.

Rachell's work humbles my own chickenscratchings. I'm honoured that she agreed to do something for us. See more work at her website, SixSpace, or at the Motel Gallery in Portland, where these three paintings also appear. If you can, go see them in pulp-and-dye: I wish I could.

Rachell - thank-you.

-- Sean

Cat Power - "The Party"

Rachell Sumpter - "Settle Down Seahorse" (click for full size) "Melancholy memories and thankfully wasted time."

Smog - "The Well"
Rachell Sumpter - "Thirsty Man" (click for full size) "Summertime in the sticks, letting it all slide away."

Silver Jews - "Horse Leg Swatikas"
Rachell Sumpter - "Hazing" (click for full size) "Some things are very complicated."

[Rachell Sumpter lives in California. These images are currently on exhibit at the Motel Gallery in Portland OR. You can also see more of Rachell's work at]

(Previous guest-blogs, in and out of the Said the Guests series: Hello Saferide, Edward Droste (Grizzly Bear), Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Devin Davis, Michael Nau (Page France), artist Tim Moore, Carl Wilson, artist Drew Heffron, David Barclay (The Diskettes), artist Katy Horan, Brian Michael Roff, Howard Bilerman (producer: Silver Mt. Zion, Arcade Fire, etc.), Damon Krukowski (Damon & Naomi). There are many more to come.)

Posted by Sean at January 18, 2006 3:00 AM

rachel, these are gorgeous. especially the first one. it's like drinking a whole thing of unwhipped whipping cream.

Posted by dan at January 18, 2006 3:08 AM

wow! beautiful stuff.

Posted by george at January 18, 2006 9:24 AM

lovely. wow.

am especially digging the well.

Posted by Marina at January 18, 2006 9:47 AM

wow. those are great. the music goes well with them. The first one(linked) and the one with the cactus looks like it is drawn/painted on cardboard. not dure if it is or not. but they look awesome

Posted by Lukas at January 18, 2006 4:23 PM

Hi there,

You blog was visited by the zeitghost and commented on for his latest entry. check it out at


the zeitghost.

Posted by The Zeitghost at January 18, 2006 11:07 PM

These've made me reconsider some of my favourite songs from new angles and imagery; they're really wonderful!

Posted by szewann at January 19, 2006 2:58 AM

Amazing artwork.

Posted by Milo at January 19, 2006 4:47 PM

These are sooooo beautiful. I love all the songs you chose too!

Posted by Caroline at January 20, 2006 1:10 PM

thank you

Posted by rachell at January 23, 2006 1:47 PM

Nice work.

Posted by tim at January 23, 2006 8:49 PM

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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Back to the World
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Endless Banquet
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Ill Doctrine
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Words and Music
Petites planétes
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Awesome Tapes from Africa
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Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
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Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
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Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
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My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
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