Chris Sims has a presence and energy that people are naturally drawn to. Since working with us at Glasswing, he went on to have a successful run as an art collector and dealer – securing coveted work and collaborating closely with other collectors around the world. When the pandemic halted travel and commerce at the beginning of 2020, Chris made a full transition from selling art to making music. Over the last year, he has immersed himself in the creative process - studying musical theory, music production, and engineering at home. We sat down with Chris at his apartment on Capitol Hill to talk about how his life has changed this year and to see the art he is now creating.
“I don’t think people are going to expect it. A lot of the music that I’m going to be sharing feels like hip-hop but also has a dance element to it. The songs are not just me talking about myself. It’s more about ‘Us.’ It’s more about ‘We’ and the journey."
How COVID Affected the Art Market
"Well yeah, COVID took my job. I can’t sell art anymore. I have art stuck all over the world and I lost a lot. But I’m not worried about that right now. I don’t care about that money. Last March...I was actually fatigued. I was tired of trying to close sales and tired of the whole process of buying and selling."
"My work as an art dealer required a knowledge of artists’ work ethic, trajectory, who’s invested, who’s interested, all that stuff. I considered my work as a sales job. I was selling my eye, selling my vision, and my understanding of the work and I had some amazing clients that live all over the world. I was working with Les Rogers, Daniel Arshem, Mark Whalen and OTI in LA. Those sales could take months of priming and then there was a waiting phase, and then there was the pressure to close a sale. And then COVID hit in February and March...and what switched for me was my clientele. They became uncertain about where to put their money. They were trying to cover bills. They were squeezed in other ways that I have no concept of."
"I proved that I don’t need a gallery to make a living and that was a cool lesson. Art is more democratic now. When last year came around and COVID took everything from me, it was almost beautiful to go back to a thing that I love so much which is music. So, yeah, 2020...I’m glad it’s over. I’m excited about this year though."
Finding His Sound
"One of the big issues I was having at the beginning of my musical journey was that I relied on a lot of different people. I relied on an engineer. I relied on someone to master and make beats. I was paying money left and right for people’s time and I always felt like I was falling short and I was never satisfied with the product. I never felt a genuine connection to the music."
"Music is really personal and when it comes down to doing the work no one else is going to care as much as you. I had a moment where I realized I needed to at least try to do this on my own. I remember I bought an MPC. I learned how to do my own drums. I spent a bit of money on that, but when I got it...I was bored. It was not fun. Then I got into synthesizers. I started listening to things, turning knobs, and noticed...oh, I like electronic music. I started playing some pads and it just slowly happened. An AH-HAH moment came and everything became clear and the work that I put in felt validated."
"After that everything became easier. Every song became an expression that I felt connected to and I had already put in the work to learn the engineering, and that’s another journey- ya know mixing songs is not fucking easy. It’s a different way of thinking. Artists usually have engineers so having my hand on that truly affects my sound. I have a closed system and I’m grateful for that understanding. Now I can make a dope melody. I can produce. I love that feeling. It’s not a goal anymore. It feels real now."
Processing the Protests in Seattle
"It was surreal. I would be trying to make a song and there would be a protest right outside my apartment, and then the cops would flank the protest, and then it would get bad real quick. I had to close my windows because there would be tear gas or flash bangs or whatever happening right outside. Seeing that for the first time...I didn’t know how to feel. I think I was in shock. I didn’t think it was my place to be out there protesting. I’m not an activist. So, what I thought I could do is take care of myself and put my energy where it was useful. This is my form of protest. At that time I thought … I’m going to stay inside and keep working on this and maybe one day I can affect hundreds of thousands of people at once versus going out into that crowd. That was the weight of it. It was hard."
Thoughts on the Year Ahead
"A lot of the music I’m going to be sharing this year...I don’t think people are going to expect it...and I’m really excited about it. It feels like hip-hop but it also has a dance element to it. There’s purpose behind it too. It’s not just me talking about myself. It’s more about us, it’s more about we, and the journey. Part of it too is just putting it out and seeing what happens. I don’t know what’s going to happen with it because I just started producing this stuff a couple months ago. It feels real though...it feels possible."
As we approach the one year mark of being locked down in Seattle, it is fitting that new artwork is beginning to surface and reflect our experiences. Leaving Chris’s apartment after the interview our heads were buzzing with the layered vocals, dreamlike keys, and distinctive bass Chris created for “Karma”, which will be released on March 16th alongside another single to be named. Although we’re not even close to being out of this pandemic, it easy to imagine this music transitioning from our headphones to a club in our dance deprived city.