Welcome to episode eight of the Hey Eleanor Podcast. This week, we're talking about spilling your guts in a very public way... and getting paid to do it.
Minneapolis-based rapper Andrew Sims (or maybe you just know him as Sims) performs as a solo artist, as well as with hip-hop group, Doomtree. The two of us chatted about re-reading stuff you wrote as an angsty-teen (embarrassing!), overcoming that negative voice in your head and how he handles pre-show anxiety. Plus, John Denver.
Here's an excerpt of our conversation.
* * *
Molly: How did you become a for-real, getting paid, bought your own house hip-hop artist?
Sims: Well, the bank owns my house... But yeah, I started making music when I was a little kid. My dad bought me a Casio SK-1, very classic keyboard where you can record your voice and make these little songs. I started playing in bands at 14, and then some friends of mine were freestyle rapping after school, and I would start rapping with them. At 17, I was writing really super angsty poetry that I made rhyme. I put my first group together when I was 18.
Molly: Do you ever still perform the stuff you wrote when you’re a teenager?
Sims: No, but actually, my first album, Lights Out Paris... I was 21 when that album came out 10 years ago. I'm re-releasing it on vinyl at the end of this month. That was crazy because I had to go back and transcribe all the lyrics because they wanted to do a lyrics booklet... I had to re-write stuff that I'd wrote when I was 19 or 20-years-old.
Molly: I don’t even like to read stuff I wrote two months ago.
Sims: Yeah, it was insane. There was some stuff where I was like, wow I am really proud of myself. That was a really nice thought and very delicately stated. Then, there was some stuff where I was using a total iron gloved approach, the heaviest handed...ugh, so terrible. So emotive. I was such a crushed little guy. Just stuff like, oh did you break up with your girlfriend, little buddy? The world is ending!
Molly: You hardly ever get a chance in life to revisit yourself at an earlier stage.
Sims: I was just talking to someone about that recently. There’s a show, kind of like The Moth called Mortified. And people go back and read their journal entries from when they were young kids. There’s this next Netflix show about it, and I watched it and I was dying entire time.
Molly: A lot of people have anxiety about being on stage, especially performing something that they wrote themselves. What was that first experience like for you?
Sims: The first time I performed, I was 14 and it was mostly parents at a recital of some variety. And then we did talent shows, and I’ve been doing it long enough that I feel comfortable. I mean, I did a show on Friday and I felt nervous all day long. I really thought about it for two or three days before, preparing the set and thinking about it and I was really nervous. I don't know why, it just always happens.
Molly: Doesn’t really always happen?
Sims: I get really nervous every show. And then I find as soon as I’m there and onstage, I try to engage as much as I can with the experience of it all. What I love about performing is that I can shut that first voice off, the first critical voice in my head...
This might sound a little too philosophical or weird, but there's what’s happening, then there’s that first voice, and then there’s something else, and then there’s me. My true self is a few layers behind these critical lenses. I get to drop that [critical voice], and feel really connected to something different. And I feel a little more unadulterated and a little more pure, in a way. A little more boiled down to an essence.
Molly: I did stand-up comedy for the first time about a year ago, and I learned that the anticipation is always the worst part... You can be very cruel to yourself. But when you’re in the moment, it’s an out of body experience.
Sims: Yes, in many ways. One of my bigger skills is not necessarily making music or performing music, but I can cut through... to a basic energy level with people and command the energy in the room... I take that really seriously. I think one of my greatest skills is being able to take a room full of strangers and galvanize them into an energy.
Molly: I always think about that when I’m at a concert. What does it feel like to be the person orchestrating a room full of people?
Sims: It feels like magic. Truly, it’s like magic.
For the rest of our conversation check out the Hey Eleanor podcast.
* * *
Other stuff we talked about:
Did you like the songs in this episode? Of course you did, because they're great. Here's what we're working with:
15 Blocks - Lights Out Paris - Sims
They Don't Work for Us - Field Notes - Sims
Burn It Down - Bad Time Zoo - Sims
Jordan 5's - Wildlife - Sims
Just Wanna - Elijah Blake ft DeJ Loaf
Aaaaand that Elijah Craig...er, wait, no. Elijah Blake video. GUYS YOU'RE GUNNA LUV IT!
Follow me on social media:
If you like the show, please rate it on iTunes. Want to leave a review? Excellent! Both help people find the show (& the more positive rates and reviews I get, the more likely iTunes is to promote it. Happy!).