Tacoma artist and producer, Chris Blount, is on the way to the airport. The New Orleans-born creative soul is twenty minutes from Sea-Tac to scoop his brother who, when he touches down, will be the newest Northwest resident. Blount is thrilled for his younger sibling’s arrival. He remembers his own trips to the region from Chicago and then later Dallas.
Blount, who moved to Tacoma officially in 2013, had frequented the area many times before taking up residence. While he’s always loved creating work, ever since seeing his playwright father succeed in the Crescent City (more on this later), Blount cherishes the exchange as much as he does any other aspect of the artist’s life.
Reciprocation. Blount wants you to feel the surge of joy that comes from sharing what you love. He wants you to be happy. And he’s made a business of it.
“We’re going to get poké,” Blount says. “My brother likes sushi but he told me he’s never had poké. So, we’re going to get some and go back to my house and discuss what he wants to do. I know he really wants to be a barber. He’s also a great visual artist and a dope rapper. You may hear us on a track pretty soon.”
Growing up in New Orleans, Blount fell in love with music. At 11-years-old, he started writing poetry. He sang along to his favorite songs. It was innocent enough. But art was in his blood from the beginning. Blount’s father, who wrote plays as well as acted and directed in them, co-founded the first Black independent theater in New Orleans, the Ethiopian Theater, in the mid-70s.
Despite these deep roots, Blount looked for more. So, at 25-years-old, he went to live with a friend in Chicago. Then, a few years later, he took a job in Dallas. When he eventually landed in Tacoma with his wife and two children (a third was born in T-town), he felt at home and ready to work.
“I’ve always been drawn to the scene out here,” Blount says. “I respect it greatly. Steel sharpens steel.”
If steel sharpens steel – and, thus, skill sharpens skill — Blount has worked to surround himself with creative people. One of those people is Julia Massey, frontwoman for the Seattle-based beachy rock ‘n’ roll band, Warren Dunes. The group, which, in 2019, played a live KEXP in-studio and, in 2020, a spot on the Emerald City television show, Band in Seattle, invited Blount on stage for the latter performance. Blount rapped expertly on the band’s song, “Cool Mom,” to grins from the band.
“It was an honor collaborating with them,” Blount says. “What’s cool is that we’re actually friends, so there’s something about working with people who are like family.”
“Chris Blount is a personal hero as a human being and as an artist,” says Massey. “His flow is one of the most original I’ve ever heard and I am grateful to be in collaborative orbit.”
Blount’s love of music led him to want to build and open his own recording studio. That’s been his most recent endeavor and it’s multi-faceted. Last year, he signed a lease on a modest building that he’s been growing ever since. On one hand, it’s a recording studio for music, the likely spot where he and his younger brother will write and record their new music. But it’s also a burgeoning space where Tacoma-area residents can learn about audio engineering, write and record music and build podcasts. The facility, which Blount has dubbed, “On Purpose Recordings,” had its soft launch a few months ago and will open more formally on November 1.
“We’ll have regular Sunday sessions where people can come in and jam with us for free,” he says. “They can learn about voice recording, audio recording, mixing, mastering and how to develop their podcasts. I want to be that hub.”
For now, Blount is working with three new clients, developing their brands and podcasts. While he has his own shows, which are available on iTunes, Spotify and other platforms (“Chris Talks,” “Profoundly Ignorant” and “Should This Be A Movie?”), Blount is growing other local shows too, including those made by women of color, some of whom identify as queer. (Generally, he charges $50 an hour, but he’s open to working with clients as needed.)
“I’m here for them,” Blount says. “I’m here to help them create something from conception to recording. We work with graphic designers to help with the branding process. The basic idea is we want you to come in, sit down and speak. We’ll take care of the rest.”
While the business is new and growing, it’s got a mighty good steward. Chris is fueled with a fire that burns personably, invitingly. His spirit is not some raging forest flame. Rather, it’s more like a family hearth where hands are warmed, stockings are hung and meals are cooked. It’s the kind of place where one feels at home, comfortable and relaxed. His motto is, “Be good to your people,” he says.
“I’ve been through highs and lows,” Blount says. “The Seattle Freeze can bring you down sometimes, too. I’ve gone through depression, anxiety. So, for me, I ultimately had to try and be inspired by people and to try and promote that same inspiration. Because we can all help each other by being there for each other.”