Spin a globe and put a finger down: chances are, the wherever your finger lands, the locale loves and plays host to its own dance scenes. Having lived all over the world, Sam Sparro has absorbed so maSpin a globe and put a finger down: chances are, the wherever your finger lands, the locale loves and plays host to its own dance scenes. Having lived all over the world, Sam Sparro has absorbed so many of these styles, along with pop music, soul and even gospel.
The 25-year-old singer, songwriter and beatmaker grew up with musical blood, as his bio states: "His great-grandfather was a professor of music and his Maltese grandfather is a professional trumpet player who performed with, among others, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Sam’s grandmother continues to sing and dance, while his father, Chris Falson, is an accomplished gospel singer."
At the other end of this, Sparro has crafted his excellent debut, electro-pop dance effort, "Black and Gold," which has made its way onto Billboard's Top Electronica and Heatseekers charts. We caught up with the L.A.-by-way-of-Sydney-based artist to reveal more about his past and what his career looks like today.
Over what period was this record written and recorded?
Most of the record was recorded between Dec. 2007 to March 2008 but a few of the tracks were recorded in my bedroom over the last 5 years.
So many of your vocal cues seem to be influenced by great women -- Whitney, Sade, the ladies of Motown... did you learn to sing along to the albums of female vocalists? What male singers were most influential to you?
I did grow up listening to a lot of female vocalists. Probably my two biggest male vocal influences are Prince and D'angelo.
You've lived all over the world... how does Los Angeles inspire your work as opposed to London or Sydney, and so forth?
I was inspired by the emerging electronic and dance scenes in Los Angeles and some of the brilliant dance parties Downtown. I tend to get the most work done in Los Angeles because it's laid back and there's lots of time and space. London is where I go to struggle and grow and be inspired by new stuff -- but the music in London is much more controlled than it used to be. Sydney has had some brilliant new music in the last few years -- a lot of if through Modular Records -- I'm inspired by a lot of that stuff.
How long did you live in London? How did you make your living there (or did you)? Who were some characters there that really helped your way?
I'm living in London at the moment. I've spend a lot of time there since I was a teenager – at least a good 3-4 years by now. I used to make my living doing all sorts, anything from working in a factory to bar and restaurant work to temping at record companies.
You just played the 02 Wireless Fest recently. How do you like festival crowds as opposed to smaller venues? What's your favorite kind of venue to play? Any certain hour?
The U.K. Festival crowds have been our best yet -- Glastonbury and then Wireless. They were absolutely loving it. I think so far it's got to be the outdoor tents....late at night.
Judging from some photos, it seems visual elements and fashion play a big part of your show. Do you take much stock in fashion? What's your setup, generally, for shows? What other personnel is up there performing with your or behind the scenes?
I like to dress up on stage -- it is a SHOW afterall. I've usually got an 8 piece set up. Myself and vocals and keys, three incredible backing singers, drums, bass, keys and laptop/synths.
It's been cited that gospel music was really influential to your vocal abilities. Has it been a while since you've stepped foot inside a church?
I haven't been to church for years apart from weddings and funerals. I do still love gospel music though.
What sort of electronica and dance scenes do you feel like you were truly a part of – as a participant, or performer?
I've always been a chameleon and have flitted about lots of different scenes. I used to go to goth clubs, mod clubs, drum & bass clubs, house parties, 2-steps nights, hip-hop clubs, gay clubs, rare-groove parties, nu-disco nights, electroclash clubs -- I like a bit of lots of different things. But, much like I don't practice patriotism or nationalism -- I've never felt like I belonged anywhere in particular.
Your family is obviously very musical. have they always been supportive of your pursuit?
My family has always been incredibly supportive of me, my grandparents in particular. They paid for my first EP to be printed up. My mum and dad always bought me equipment and my dad would show me how to use ProTools and plug-ins and that. I couldn't have done this without my family.