Artist Spotlight - Cookie From SWIMM

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I first met Cookie at the Baltisoul x Rove charity event back in December. Sometimes you meet people and instantly know that they are going to be in your life, this was one of those times. Cookie (Christopher Hess) is the lead singer of Swimm, a poet, artist, and generally rad human. He is one of those people whos energy is invasive in the best possible way. With thought provoking poetic lyrics its impossible not to find yourself hooked. Continue reading below to know more about Cookie, see some Polaroids we snagged with him styled by CRUX, and watch the video from our first spotlight series.

Who are you?

Chris Hess.  Some friends call me Cookie.  Some call me Cooks. Some call me Crucipher Hexx.  Some call me Baby Boy Hess, Captain Crispy, and others say King Tuck.  

Why music?

It's funny, I've been doing music for a bit now.  Maybe long enough to where I haven't asked myself that in a long time and this is really making me think now.  Why music? I find I care more about words than music these days but there is no denying the immediacy you get in using music as a vehicle for words.  Also, you know the feeling you get when a band you love finally walks out on stage and goes into their first song and it just happens to be your favorite?  That feeling alone has driven me to make a lot of questionable 'life-path' choices in favor of a musical one.

What does authenticity mean to you?

This one is so tough for me because it is the single most important thing to me in music, art, writing, relationships, selling phone plans, friendships and all of it but trying to define it seems like it will come off unavoidably bathetic.   All I know, is the second I feel like someone isn't being authentic, and perhaps is being a caricature of something they think will be perceived as cool or marketable, I'm out.

Favorite lyric of your own?

There are two lyrics in two different songs that seem to bring a certain poignancy to the moment when I sing them to an audience.  One is from "1000 Lovers". And it says,

"I dreamt that I made love to a thousand men.  

For a moment in light, my sexuality.

I awoke in a panic wondering what it could mean.  

Will my 1000 mothers understand?  

Will my thousand fathers still love me?"  

In the many times, I've sung this, I've had countless moments when I make eye contact with an audience member, be it man or woman, that is gay and has dealt with those feelings of apprehension and fear of a lack of acceptance.  Being a straight man, who hasn't had to deal with those questions, I think it's important to write from a place outside of your own experience. For me, it's the closest I can get to forming a better understanding of what someone else may be going through.

The other lyric that seems pertinent to the times we are living in is from an unreleased song called "Ceramic Mary".  The last verse says,

"You marched the flags of your privilege over the bridges of your hometown,

hoping everyone heard.  

I whisper my privilege now,

like a four-letter word."

What does authenticity mean to you?

For me, being authentic in this song is to admit that I have been born into certain privilege and I wear a shame around it right now.  It doesn't mean I'm not grateful and that I will try to hide anything about myself and pretend to be something different, cause that wouldn't serve anyone.  But it's a moment where I'm seeing that there are some friends I have that are at times desperate for everyone to know what kind of privilege they have been born with or have attained because it defines their status and place in their world.  While for me, I sort of cringe at the unavoidability of my white male privilege. Not trying to say I'm right and their wrong. I guess it just fascinates me how the same thing can be treated so differently by people.

A book that changed your outlook on life?

My mom wrote a book called "The Butterfly Book".  It's beautifully written, cleverly put together and will change what you think you are capable of.   The part that turns me upside down is how powerfully it reinstates the practice of manifestation. I actually get mad at myself for not frequently practicing what her book so wonderfully prescribes... that manifesting the world you want is hard work and is totally worth it.

Where in the world are you happiest?

In the ocean, on the stage, or making banana pancakes. Joking, I've never made banana pancakes, I just really wanted to fill out the Jack Johnson-esque answer that I realized I would be giving when I said: "in the ocean or on stage."  For the record, I think Jack Johnson is great. I haven't kept up with his music but I am thoroughly jealous of the life he has created. I might even go back and listen to his first album right now.  I don't even remember why I'm talking about Jack Johnson anymore.

Favorite musician?

Can you tell by now that I can't ever pick one of anything?  I'm going to try and do this right now. Ok. I'm going to go with Frank Ocean right now.

Outside of music what other art are you passionate about?

Writing and film.  So so so so much. Like, let's talk about Joan Didion and Paul Thomas Anderson and No Country For Old Men the book and the movie for hours, please?  

What does vulnerability mean to you?

Peeling back the first layer of neat honesty and going one step further to the honesty that not everyone is going to like seeing or hearing.

Talent: Chris Hess @Swimm_music

First 3 photos and video: @betawaverecords

Sweater and Location: CRUX @shopcrux

Photo: Weslee Kate @Wesleekatecreative