At just 21 years old, Australian producer Will Sparks has experienced the kind of success many musicians hope to achieve over the course of a lifetime. Already recognized as the king of Melbourne bounce, Sparks reigns supreme not only in Australia, but globally as well, having performed at some of the world’s largest festivals alongside the industry’s most important names. Yet another platform responsible for his success, the young Aussie’s tracks can often be found at the top of the Beatport charts; his single “Ah Yeah” ranked number three on the Top 10 overall chart, while his remix of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” stood proudly at number two. All things considered, Will Sparks should be your quintessential egoist musician, but he believes to succumb to this stereotype would be the ultimate failure.
“If you can’t keep humble, you’re a weirdo, you’re weak minded. If you just be yourself and are nice to people, you’re going to do well. That’s what I’ve always done, I’ve never changed. When I hear about DJs being arrogant, I’m like ‘you’re so lucky, and all the people around you that are trying to be nice to you, and you’re not giving a bar back, they are the reason why you’re there, so you actually deserve shit.’”
Before meeting with Will Sparks at his Levu Nightclub show in Dallas, I went through the customary pre-interview motions; I read articles, listened to live sets, and watched previous interviews he had participated in. Going into the interview, I was less nervous than usual, as I had found his down-to-earth demeanor in prior interviews disarming. I’m happy to say that Sparks lived up to my expectations, casually cracking jokes and complimenting those around him before speaking about himself.
While appreciative of his success, Sparks was not timid in criticizing the flaws in the industry. A week before our interview took place, his first big room banger “Check This Out” released on SoundCloud, nearly two years after the song was produced. When asked about the track, Sparks grew frustrated and lamented about the sometimes-indolent nature of record labels.
“It was an experiment I did ages ago, I didn’t even want to release it, it’s not my best work, and it was done so long ago. I think if we had released it when we did it, it would have been good. A lot of the songs you hear today were probably made two and a half years ago. It’s crap, because we make our music for the moment, for the mood, for where the industry’s going, or whatever, so it’s annoying when you release it a year and a half or two years later and it’s so old and so done. Some labels get it right out there straight away, bang, and it’s hyped, which is why it does so well. So I wish I could just go bang with all of them.”
While irritated with some aspects of the industry, Sparks quickly perked up when asked about the surreal moments in his explosive career.
“There’s been some emotional moments for sure. When I played in front of all of those people, main stage of Future(fest) and Stereo(sonic) back home, there’s like 30,000 people in front of you, and at one point I was sitting back after I played, and and I just went ‘wow,’ you well up a bit and go ‘holy shit,’ but then you just go to the next step. There’s always the next goal to achieve.
I reminded Sparks that, for his age, he has already achieved a great deal, rattling off a list of his greatest triumphs before wondering out loud how overwhelming it must feel to accomplish so much in such a short period of time. To that, Will responded:
“At one point I couldn’t fathom it, I’d look at the screen and I’d be right up at the top, ‘Blurred Lines’ went to two and ‘Ah Yeah’ at three, it was just like ‘sweet, my name’s on a chart.’ I don’t know how it all works but at the same time it’s always incredible to be up there, I just kind of hope to get that number one spot one day.
I’ve always been number two at everything… It’s social media these days, that’s what gets you up there. It’s the only thing to get you out there, it’s free advertisement. The more followers you get the bigger you get, I guess.”
The topic of social media led me to suddenly abandon my list of questions and ask Sparks if he had partaken in the recent trend of DJs giving out their SnapChat names.
“I had one, but I didn’t realize you had to accept people. They can’t just follow you. So I went through and accepted like 2,000 people. Everyday I would wake up and look at it and it just drained my life.”
To which I replied, “probably a lot of boobs and smoking weed pics, right?”
“A few boobs, here and there, I’m just not sure of their age so I was like, ‘no, I can’t do that.’ You got to get on the direct Insta. That’s the best. ‘Dear ladies, you can direct Instagram me anytime, but if you’re under the age of 18, don’t want to know ya.’”
This was only one of many moments where Sparks’ charming and charismatic character had everyone in the room bursting into raucous laughter, derailing the interview into aimless merriment before I was forced to tighten the reins and get back to business. There was one question I was eager to ask Sparks, and that was his opinion on the progression from death metal to electronic.
WRR: I read that you were originally into death metal and played guitar. It’s funny that you were into that because I know a lot of producers were formally into that too, like David Solano started in death metal, and Skrillex in First to Last, do you think there is a reason for that progression or is it just a coincidence?
“You make the same face when it drops. It’s just a head banger, it makes you tingle inside. I think musically, the drums and the riffs that we make are similar to metal riffs. It’s the same kind of vibe, happy but also angry.”
Hoping to conclude on the same cheerful note the interview had sustained, I ended with a game.
WRR: The last thing I have is a game. I’m going to give you some words that y’all use in Australia and see if you can tell me the American equivalent to that word…
“Oh! This will be good.”
WRR: Can you tell me what the American word is for jumper?
“I got this. ‘Sweater.'”
WRR: No, pacifier. A sapphire is a stone, or a gem.
(one of his friends says ‘bangs’) “Dude, this is a competition! No one else can do it!”
WRR: Don’t worry I have extras. Lollis?
“I’ve got this.. What’s it called… What’s a rubber called?? Okay give it to me.”
“I’m an idiot!”
After the interview ended, Will Sparks and Joel Fletcher played a dynamic back-to-back set in front of an intimate but lively crowd at Dallas’ Levu Nightclub.The energetic vibe of the crowd, fortified by the free-spirited, fun-loving nature of Sparks and Fletcher, enveloped the entire room, making for an incredible live music experience. I’d like to personally thank Will Sparks for an entertaining and informative interview. WRR eagerly awaits to see what Sparks will do next.
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