Written by: Peter Bonamici
Noah Sims is a producer who has been getting a lot of buzz around Chicago for the past few years. Sims is an 18 year old freshman attending Columbia College for Audio Design and Production. Juggling a job, academic life, and freelance production, Sims still manages to keep an active music profile. Collaborating with Chicago veterans such as MC Tree, and rising stars like Taylor Bennett, Roosevelt the Titan, and Carl (Formerly of Hurt Everybody), Sims has made a name for himself amongst the scene. We got a chance to catch up and talk to Noah about his forthcoming project Testament, dropping early this spring.
For those who don't know, can you please introduce yourself?
I was born and raised in Chicago. My life consists of making beats, DJing, school, work, and spending time with friends and family. When I make music my goal is to make the listener share the same experience I felt when the inspiration first struck. As far as on a personal level, I think I’m a pretty cool dude. I try to treat everyone right and for the most part that's always worked out for me.
How long ago did you started producing? What got you into the music scene?
I started producing around my 16th birthday. I've always been around music thanks to my family. My dad's a drummer and my mom works in the classical music field. I dabbled with different instruments throughout my childhood. I didn't get too serious with any of them until drums when I was 13. I had a lot of fun with it but producing sort of took over a few years later.
As a producer, do you draw any inspirations from local artists?
To an extent. 90% of the rap I listen to is from the city and the development of the scene here keeps me motivated. But what I'm most inspired by is whatever is going on in my life at the time. Whether I'm sad, angry, excited or just at a happy place, there's usually some sort of expression that comes as a result.
Can you please contrast making a name for yourself as a producer in Chicago, as opposed to being a rapper? Do you believe it's easier or harder?
It's a completely different process. Rappers have more of an image/brand, they are the front man. You see them on stage, they are way more in the public and upfront. As a producer I think what's important is to reach out to a variety of talented rappers and show people how your style effects others. Besides that, make sure you're at as many shows/events as possible. It's easy to be anonymous as a producer, but you've gotta fight that. The best way to get support is to support others I think.
You recently announced your next big project Testament, can you tell us more about it?
The definition of Testament is "something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event, or quality." The project features different artists from around the city whose music I admire as well as have had good personal relationships with. I consider this project a testament to the personal and creative growth of myself and all the other musicians involved. The artists featured are recording at Hurt Everybody Studios. I feel like it's the best work I've done yet, am having fun working on it and collaborating and reaching out to people. It's been a good project for me, and it’s helped me learn a lot.
Is this solely a beat tape or a collaborative effort much like the C-Sick's La Collection Tape, with every track featuring a different artist. Any word on features set up so far?
I'd like to keep the whole roster a surprise until the project drops. It's about half and half with known collaborators of mine and artists I've never released music with.
How many tracks will we see on this?
A total of 10 tracks. 9 tracks featuring vocals and 1 instrumental.
When will we expect to see it released?
There's no definitive date set so far, shooting for sometime in March.
One of your biggest constant collaborators has to be Roosevelt the Titan, how did you two link up?
Roosevelt and I were good friends before either of us started getting into music. In the summer of our junior year we made our first song together, and we've worked a lot ever since.
Any plans for future collaborations?
We'll have a few songs coming out in the next month and the plan is to continue to work together long-term.
One of the biggest Chicago Producers/Rappers MC Tree also hopped on the beat BANG, which was originally for Anakan & Roosevelt. Can you explain how that happened?
The first day Just Studio opened, everyone came in wanting to make music. There was an electric feel in the air, and all of us started pulling out beats to record over. The Bang beat had been made in May and I sent it out to MC Tree about a week before the studio opened and I wasn't sure I'd get a response. Spontaneously I showed the beat to Anakan (Justiiice & Satchel Stokes) and Roosevelt. We finished the song in a few hours and they released the songs immediately that same night. When I got home after the session I had "Bang Bang", the song from MC Tree, in my e-mail. It was unexpected, but I was happy to see each side make such good songs, and to get a chance to see two different interpretations of my music.
What do you see as your greatest accomplishment so far?
That's a hard question. On one side of things there's the resume type of achievements. I've been on some of my favorite music publications such as DJ Booth, Hot New Hip Hop, 1833, Fake Shore Drive etc...
Crystals featuring Taylor Bennett and Carl was one of the first songs I've ever produced. That track got played on The Lily Mercer Show on British Radio. I've also gotten to see music I helped create be performed at several sold out shows. But honestly what I really feel like my greatest achievement has been is finding a path for myself. I didn't know what I wanted to do in life, I never did as well as I could have in school and I was coming off a very rough time when I started making beats. Once I started taking producing seriously it's gave me direction in life that I really needed, and its kept me going ever since.
Are there any artists you haven't gotten a chance to collaborate with but would like to in the future?
There's a lot of people I'd like to work with in the future but it all depends on if the artists and I have chemistry. If it clicks it clicks, and if it doesn't it doesn't. Assuming that things "click" my top 5 (in no particular order) that I'd like to work with in the city are Mick Jenkins, Alex Wiley, Lucki Eck$, Leather Chords and SD. There are a couple others that I would've mentioned that are going to be on Testament, so you'll see more soon!
Whats your production process? Do you have a certain sound or vibe you want to create before you start? Or does it come together spontaneously as you mess around with sounds?
My beats are always pretty spontaneous. Often it's in the middle of the night when I can't really sleep and I have a lot going on in my head. I'll work on stuff until I have trouble keeping my eyes open. I usually have a melody or sample that I start with, then I go to bass and drums, then either harmonies or percussion depending on how I'm feeling with the beat.
What do you believe sets you apart from other producers in the scene?
I believe I'm developing my own sound. Listeners of mine know they can be expecting something different from the norm when they see "Prod. by Noah Sims". When I was first making music it wasn't even really rap beats, it was just weird shit I thought sounded raw. As I've progressed technically, I've been able to capture that mindset of just making the coolest sounds I can and adapt it so that the music has a more accessible appeal to it.
Are there any other producers you would like to collaborate with for a joint track?
I've always thought of making beats with someone as a pretty personal thing. I worked with 2 producers on Testament named Orgena (@_Orgena) and Andrew Taylor (@andrewwttaylor) but that just sort of happened cause they're close friends and raw as fuck at killing beats. As far as my favorite producers on the scene, I'd say Mulatto, Flight, Tree, and Plu2o. If I ended up working on a beat with any of them I'm sure it'd come out cool, but it's nothing I'm trying to force.
Any advice for those seeking to go into the producing career?
Mixing is key: If your music doesn't sound clean in the car or on stage a lot of people won't listen. Make sure you're always pushing yourself to be better and know that you ALWAYS will be able to get better. Most importantly, make sure this is something you love. To really pursue it as a career will require serious commitment.
If you're interested in listening to more of Noah Sim's music, hit the link below.