Check out pictures from Will Sparks at Rumor Boston 8.8.13 // Credit to Yoni Asulin for The Oxford Group
Last Thursday August 8th, Australian producer/DJ Will Sparks stopped in Boston as part of his debut North American tour – crammed with 24 shows in just over a month. Before Sparks took to the decks at Rumor Nightclub, as part of The Oxford Group‘s night with Tom Swoon and Richard Fraioli, he sat down with MMIBTY Co-Founders Jon and Brian to provide some insight into the life of one of the hottest names in dance music right now. Here’s what the 20-year-old had to say:
MyMusicIsBetterThanYours.com (MMIBTY): You’re from Melbourne Australia. Talk to us about the Melbourne House scene and how it’s not only influenced you, but how it’s grown around the world.
Will Sparks (WS): It all started years ago, it was really underground, there was a small group who produced it and at that point it was really minimal [House] – but sort of bigger than minimal. Since then it’s evolved. There’s that Dirty Dutch sound and someone took pieces of Dirty Dutch and combined it with Melbourne sounds, adding Rap acapellas. Eventually – I didn’t start it – but producers began adding chords and emotion with the track instead of just big bass and booming sounds. And what I started doing was making it more, not commercial, but girl-friendly – something girls can dance to and not just this underground sound.
MMIBTY: There are other artists out there, like Flume for example, who have come from the Australian underground scene but then there are other artists who have started making, for lack of a better term, cheese. You and your sound don’t really fall into either of those categories.
WS: No, no it’s not cheese. I did what I wanted to do, I created a sound that I liked and it turned out that more people liked it. But it has evolved a lot since then. If you listen to it a lot has changed – almost totally different genres, but the original Melbourne House sound is where it started.
MMIBTY: When did this sound turn into a world-wide thing? When did “Ah Yeah”, for example, turn into a global phenomenon?
WS: Beatport dude. People bought the song a lot and it got up the charts and everyone around the world looks at those charts. That got me a lot of exposure, but so did TJR. He has supported “Ah Yeah” quite a bit and he classifies himself as sort of a “bounce” artist. He’s really pushed it. And TJR, an artist who’s on [Chris Lake’s] Rising Music supported it, people like Laidback Luke and Aoki listened to it, and it just got supported. Tommie Sunshine loves it, he’s all about it. Laidback Luke loves it too.
Click through for more of the interview and some essential tunes!
MMIBTY: We were reading how Laidback Luke caught some flack for starting to produce Melbourne House.
WS: The thing that Laidback Luke has always done is he’s always been ahead of everyone. And they’ve always ended up listening to him and he doesn’t care. He was the first to bring the Dirty Dutch sound and everyone from the Netherlands hated that sound when it first came out. So now when Laidback Luke is trying to bring Melbourne House to the masses, around the globe, people from Melbourne are sick of it and they want to move on – but to you guys it’s all new and it’s all fresh. That’s why I’m loving playing my sets over here!
MMIBTY: What can people expect from you in a set?
WS: Well it’s not boring. I do play some bouncy “Melbourne House” stuff, although I hate that term. You’ll hear some chords, I play a lot of “EDM”, the Big Room stuff that’s popular – I switch it up. And definitely most of my songs that are bouncy – you’ll see tonight!
MMIBTY: What is your production process like?
WS: I use Ableton with a lot of plug-ins and stuff – too many to describe. I master all my songs myself. I’ve been producing in my bedroom my whole life and I’ve gotten used to that. I’ve been doing a lot of research and such on the technique. But it depends what kind of mood you’re in. You can’t be forced to produce a track. I love intros for some reason, so I always start there. Then you get your kick out and your bass out and you start messin’ around. It’s fun for me – even if people didn’t hear it and I wasn’t touring around I’d still be doing it.
MMIBTY: When did you start getting into it?
WS: When I was about 17, actually 16. I jumped to the back of the club like, sick I got in – I was being kind of a menace around the area. Ran to the dance floor – I was a bit of a rat back in the day – this guy was playing this sound and I was like, what is this? I had been playing guitar all my life, loved heavy metal/death metal, my mate came over and told me to check out this computer program. He was kind of nerdy and always had this cool stuff on his computer and I was like sick, started playing around with it, and went from there. And I was never good at school, so this was like my calling. You never really think about how big you’d get, how many fans you’d have – you just want to go up there and pound that stage. I thought this Melbourne sound was going to be in Melbourne forever. I didn’t really look into the future and think what’s gonna happen next, I just kept going. Shit just started increasing, people in America and Europe telling me to “come here, come here!”. And then SoundCloud followers start going up and social networking was huge.
MMIBTY: How did the “Blurred Lines” remix come about?
WS: I’ve been speaking to Robin Thicke’s manager for a while now because people got on this sound, this new sound.
MMIBTY: You mean your sound. YOU were the new sound.
WS: Yeah, that’s what people tell me. And when people see that this is the new sound they think, shit, and jump on it. Obviously the guys from Rising jumped on it and Interscope jumped on it with me, and they’re in with my management now. The guy from Interscope manages Robin Thicke and he got me to remix it for him.
MMIBTY: And that remix blew up!
WS: I know, I couldn’t believe it man! And I asked if we could get them to make a new video for it, I’m sure Robin wouldn’t mind at all. But it’s crazy man, #2 overall on Beatport and it was a simple one. It’s hard to explain it, it didn’t take me long, I thought it was too basic. But the reaction I got to it made me like it a bit more and sometimes simplistic approaches are the best. Some of my tracks are really complex, don’t get me wrong, but some of my most successful ones are the most simple because they have that hook. But a lot of people think it has to be complex to be good and it doesn’t.
MMIBTY: We’ve touched a bit on your hit “Ah Yeah” – but the vocals, did you just sample them, chop and pitch them up?
WS: I had an acapella done for me for another song that didn’t work out so I grabbed a bit of that vocal, threw it into a sampler, messed around with it, tweaked it up a bit, transposed it down and yeah that’s it. It’s pretty simple when you’re doing vocal bends, vocal synths. The process of taking a vocal and putting it into a sampler.
MMIBTY: With your recent success which artists have reached out to you that you were surprised about?
WS: Laidback Luke, number one, that was mind-blowing. We’re working together now and hopefully in the future we get a track done. He came to my gig in Las Vegas at XS, came to see me, wanted to have a chat. It’s huge, I couldn’t believe it. Yeah he’s really cool. Also, you know Carnage? Yeah he’s been reaching out to me on Twitter. I also met Quintino back at home in Melbourne and we spoke a bit. And yeah, these guys are liking the sound. Have you heard of 360? He’s a rapper from Australia, he reached out as well on one of my songs. So yeah I’ve had a few guys recognize me and all of them blew me away. Laidback Luke is my biggest inspiration, he’s brought up guys like Avicii and Sander Van Doorn so that was just really cool.
MMIBTY: What about the Hilltop Hoods, have they reached out to you?
WS: Haha, nah they haven’t. I don’t think they’d like me very much, I respect them though. I’m not very big into the Rap scene.
MMIBTY: So what’s on the horizon, what’s the future of Will Sparks?
WS: I’m just gonna go with the flow, ’cause that’s what I’ve been doing, and try to collaborate with as many artists as possible. I’m just going to embrace it and meet people and play everywhere and see the world and I don’t know, we’ll just see how this sound progresses from here. I’ve got about 1o or 11 tracks now and they’ve changed into Progressive Trap with Melbourne at 132 bpm and side kinds of sounds and basses that I’ve taken to the next level. We’ll see how the reactions are. It’s been going well in my sets but let’s see what happens when they come out online and people actually know what it is.
Thanks again to Will Sparks, his management team, and the folks at Get In! PR for arranging the interview. Will was a truly humble and down-to-Earth guy and he absolutely murdered it when he hit the decks. If you aren’t very familiar with Will Sparks’ work, head to his SoundCloud page to hear more. If you have the chance to see Sparks live when he comes to a city near you, stop what you’re doing and go check him out.