On jingles, demos and the power of making people laugh
I’ve seen Kym Sims having a shower. It wasn’t just me and it was at a distance of several thousand miles but nonetheless that makes her unique amongst the artists I play when I’m DJing. As COVID public safety announcement it was certainly the one I’ve remembered most.
But that’s not the main reason Kym Sims is so memorable of course.
My first, and more orthodox, introduction was like many people my age listening to the pop charts of 1992. Her garage house sass made her a crossover smash when Too Blind To See It and Take My Advice hit both the dancefloors and the charts. Wind forward to 2020 and the reaction I still get to playing Too Blind To See It only confirms to me just how big an impact her tracks have had on people over the years.
Given I felt I owed her one for crowd reactions over the years (and for the health advice), I thought it was about time I tracked her down to see how she was doing…
First things first, how are you? Are you keeping well in these worrying times?
Oh my goodness! Yes I’m just keeping myself safe and trying not to watch all of the negative stuff, but sometimes you’ve got to take your head out of the sand and watch. It’s horrible but yes, thanks for asking, I’m doing well.
Did you think back in 1992 you’d be still talking about Too Blind To See It thirty years or so later?
No, I really really didn’t! I personally was not a big fan of it, not to say it was a bad song but, you know, some songs sort of it hit you so I was like whatever! I considered myself a pop singer or soul singer, not so much dance or garage but here we are.
I remember reading that you started out singing jingles, did I remember that right?
You did, you did! The man who gave me my big break was called Paul David Wilson and he ran a jingle house. He had advertising agencies who had clients like McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Sears, Coca Cola, Pillsbury Poppin’ Fresh Dough – anything you could think of. He saw me at a pageant and he liked my voice and asked me if I’d done jingles before, and I said no and I ended up doing that for five or six years.
So how did you get into house music then?
Yeah I just sort of fell into house music. A friend of mine’s husband was a DJ and they had a party one weekend, and she asked me if I could sing for a friend of ours. I believe the producer was there with his partner and he said I should come in and record a song he had. I said OK, I recorded Too Blind To See It and the rest is history!
I discovered you also co-wrote another favourite track of mine, Keep On Walking by Cece Peniston – what’s the story there?
Keep On Walking was a song that I wrote for me and I demoed it. We all said that it would be a nice follow up and we should do it, and somewhere in the middle it became Cece’s song. The first time I heard about it was on the radio! She did an awesome job, just the whole attitude and what she brought to it – I won’t say no one else can sing it because I sang it and it was my song but she damn, damn, damn did a damn good job!
Were you surprised by the impact you had on the UK and European charts at the time?
Yeah, I had no clue. When you’re in the throes of something you don’t get the opportunity to stop and smell the roses. I was so busy wondering why I wasn’t getting the love over here, without wishing to disrespect people over there [in Europe], but I just didn’t understand it. I was just going to dates and singing and coming back to my normal life. I saw the people around me I was working with like the producers on the rise from a financial standpoint but it wasn’t happening for me. I was just happy singing and I went with it but I didn’t really see the effects until further down the line and everything was coming from the other side of the Pond. You all show me more love than anyone on this side so it means alot.
What were your fondest memories of those days?
Well I was a young mother, and I remember when I was flying home I’d have to stop at the airport and buy something special for my kids so they’d have some memory of my journey. Everywhere I went throughout the eighteen years of the whole Too Blind To See It journey – Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Germany – I’d have to get new shoes, my daughter got puppets, my son had his ear pierced so I’d bring an earring home. Now he’ll be thirty five in a few weeks, and my daughter will be thirty two in September and she has two kids. Now I do it for all my babies, all my little ones!
After that mainstream era in the pop charts how did you find being in the underground scene?
I feel like I took a break, not a wanted break, but almost a “we don’t want you” break. I didn’t feel like I could find my zen. I was asked to do a revocal of Too Blind To See It by the folks I did it with originally but I wasn’t very keen on doing it and once the vocals were done I wasn’t pleased with the outcome. I have come to the realisation and the point now [however] where I’m going to remake Too Blind To See It 2020 edition and I’m going to do it my way! The music business is so crazy with the financial side so if there’s any money to be made it won’t be my pockets to be lined, but if it gets me gigs and it gets me out there and it happens to do well, I’m happy. Then I’ve got another song called Love’s Got A Hold On Me that we’re just about to release that’s got a nice vibe and is getting some good feedback so I’m excited about that. Now it feels so great to be able to sing the songs only for that reason, and not for the lights not to be cut off or to pay a bill. Now it’s just about me and giving the quality that I want and hoping that everyone enjoys it too.
Your shower scene was probably my favourite COVID health warning! How do you maintain that energy?
That’s so funny you say that! My friends would say I’m just crazy! You know what, I have my moments, I’ve suffered with depression and I’ve had so many things that have happened in my life like everybody else but the difference is it took its toll on me in a different way. I found that in order to get myself out of that I have to do something silly and get acknowledged by somebody for it. I’m like “I’m gonna do something silly, and I’m gonna make somebody laugh!” I continue with the foolery because it makes people laugh. What you see is what you get, I’m the same person. I’ve got a circle that I’m complete with, I’ve got a good family home and people around me that support me so for me to do something silly is easy because I’m in a happy place.
Well I’m really glad to hear it, it’s been an honour to chat with you.
I appreciate it and I thank you so much for finding me out here in the midst of all these divas! You found little old Kym Sims, I appreciate it!