Swiss Chris - Conversations with Artists

Talk to us about Music.

"Music transcends barriers of gender, race and politics.  Music is a magical newspaper.  You're painting, sending out stories through frequency.  It's a universal language.  It's a very honest art form. Drumming is air traveling through a cylinder.   Words can lie, drums don't lie."

What goes on in your mind when you're playing?

"Nothing.  Infinity.  Pi.  Infinity.  Love.  God is Love, Love is God.  So when I play drums there's nothing in my mind.  Words could never describe it - kind of like if you think about a painting it would take thousands, millions of words.  Same thing with music.  Music is timeless.   You're in a time and space dimension normally, but when you play music it's timeless.  How do you describe love?  I can access love through music in a very comfortable way.  It's like a light switch that you turn on."

What does it mean to be an artist?

"I guess if you consider yourself an artist you have on one hand the privilege to be able to send out a message to the masses.  But you also have the responsibility to send out a positive, empowering message.  So to me, artists are channels.  Think of a TV.  You have many channels and I feel like the moment you find your own remote control you can change the channel of perception.  Through that channel you can send out a message.  I feel that most real artists are messengers."  

Was it always in your mind to go this direction with your life?

"Yes - from as far back I can recall as a four-year old conducting to Wagner and then learning to play the drums at age 5.  I was into the snare drum - Swiss drumming.  It was intriguing.  At one point I wanted to be a goal keeper.  The psychology of being a goal keeper in soccer and hockey is the same thing as a drummer in music.  He's the guy that is holding it down.  He's the backbone and has a little different rules.  He's the clown, with different responsibilities but also a huge privilege.  I feel as a drummer, more than ever, we have a huge responsibility and privilege to do what we do -- because we really are the leader.  We have to support the others - kind of like being a bear with birds on your back. You're responsible to bring people from A to B.  If you're a drummer in a big band or a small band you're responsible to keep the time and make everybody feel good."

Do you remember when you first realized this?

"There are many times that I've realized this and many times that I've forgotten it also.  Depending on how big the ego is at the moment - it's a consistent fight with the ego.  I realized it playing reggae, when an older Jamaican man told me - 'look, drums don't need to be heard - they need to be felt.'  I guess I had an opposite approach because I was sticking out and playing all kinds of crazy stuff.  It was profound for me hearing that statement: 'drums need to be felt not necessarily heard.'  It was a wakeup call.

 Every gig is different but the same in a way.  You have to be at service.  As a drummer you can really get close to the mission of what you should do on this planet.  And that's two things:  be at service and love.  Understand that One is All and All is One.  Understand basic laws of the universe.  Drumming gets you pretty close - like in dancing - you can't lie.  And you can't lie playing drums.  If you are in search of truth of self drumming is probably one of the most beautiful and easy things to be able to channel the truth of life.  Think about it -- the first drum you hear is your mother's heart.  When you come out of your mother's womb you can already play a bossa nova: boom da da boom boom da da boom boom....  It's a heartbeat.  What you are as a drummer - you're the locomotive, the heartbeat of the band.  Whether you want it or not - you're creating the swagger of how people feel."

"Mostly what I've learned, is that I'm you, you're me.  I'm no better than you, no worse than you.  I've learned a lot about forgiveness - first of the self and then of others.  I've learned a lot about the dark riders - the ego, fear.  I learned a lot about fear and false evidence appearing real.  And I've learned not to fear anymore.  I do believe in a higher power.  I do believe in God.  I do believe in a bigger reality that we can't grasp.  I feel this most when I play the drums.  It all comes back to the drums for me.  I believe more in drums than in words.  Why?  Because drums are truth.  Air traveling through a cylinder.  And I can communicate with anybody on the planet without ever saying a word.  Any style, any culture, any language.  To me, drumming is just a beautiful thing."

"Music is universal, music is math.  Math is numbers.  At the end, it's God.  It's One.  All is One, One is All.  I'm happy to be a student of life.  It turns me into both a teacher and student.  I understand the concept of:  Each One Teach One.  I feel that if people would really take basic laws into consideration we would have a much better world.  I really think if people would look inside and understand that life is inside out, not outside in, there would be more people empowered.  

That's who I am.   That's what I think.  As a 40-year old man that's what I came up with and that's what I live."

Learn more about Swiss Chris here.

Katherine Sarkissian