Up-and-coming rapper John Sparkz out of Toms River-NJ, just dropped the official unofficial NJ Devils Playoff Anthem, entitled“Devil Inside”. The 20-year-old Berklee College of Music student & die-hard Devil‘s fan, currently works as the head engineer for super-producer Harry Fraud. Not too shabby for a Jersey boy who isn’t allowed to legally drink yet.
Sparkz is a whiz-kid who also is armed with an incredible ear for music. His forthcoming project Newport Music 3 is scheduled to drop soon. Here he throws about some personal theories on his art and career.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
John Sparkz: Well let’s see. I wrote my first song in the 6th grade and engineered my first song a year after that so I’ve been doing this for about 8 or 9 years.
2. Who were the first influences on your music and style?
John Sparkz: Well I used to be all over the place. Listening to Blink 182 then turning around and writing raps in my science notebook in class. But as far as hip hop being my genre I would hands down say 50 and Snoop Dogg had the most influence on me.
3. In your opinion who is the most influential and successful artist in your genre today and why?
John Sparkz: 50 Cent, in my opinion there is no doubt anywhere that he is, homie has the most successful career in hip hop to me, he’s a business man and a musician.
4. Describe the first piece of equipment, hardware or software, needed to produce your creations, which you actually purchased with your own money.
John Sparkz: A mic, I’ll never forget that, I used to save and save and save until I got like 40 bucks (laughing) went to radio shack and bout a mic.
5. Do you think music today is enjoyed more for the beats or for the lyrical flow and content?
John Sparkz: I think it depends,you have horrible rappers, and horrible producers. But hip hop today is more and more commercial radio friendly so the beats and instrumentals are going to be catchier, just like a pop song.
6. Which famous song best describes what you’d like John Sparkz productions to sound like?
John Sparkz: Well as far as a sounding song like a beat and a final sound would have to be basically any Eminem record from Recovery, I think that album had the best production and being an engineer I really liked the style of mixing on it.
7. If you had the chance to work with established artists or producers, with whom would you like to collaborate in future?
John Sparkz: If I ever sit down in a studio and do a record with 50 that would be the dopest ever. But to think outside the box I would love to do a record with Chris Martin from Coldplay.
8. Which of your original compositions is your current personal favorite, and why?
John Sparkz: I would say “Devil Inside” the song I did for the NJ Devils . The energy on it really was exactly how I was feeling and it got a good feedback.
9. Which ingredient do you think is most essential in making your music the way it is?
John Sparkz: Life.. plain and simple. Music is a reflection of life. No matter what life you live, music brings it all together.
10. Which emotion mostly dominates your music? Joy, sadness, anger or passion etc.,and why?
John Sparkz: All emotions, but I tend to be a more of an angry person so the feeling of frustration and anger are dominating but that doesn’t mean my music sounds angry!
11. What aspect of the music making process excites you most?
John Sparkz: The post processes of it, mixing and mastering, that’s my forte and I love doing it its just as creative as writing songs are.
12. What aspect of the music making process discourages you most?
John Sparkz: I really dislike recording it! I get so frustrated because I will hear my verses in my head and I need to match it to that as much as I can. Sometimes ill record the verse 15 times and then still not be satisfied.
13. How involved are you in the recording, producing, mastering and other processes needed to produce and market your music, and do you outsource any part of this process?
John Sparkz: Well basically I like to be on top of everything I do mix and master 90% of my work, I am an audio engineer, so I tend to go wild mixing, I do sometimes outsource it to some of my other friends because it is hard to mix your own voice. As far as marketing goes, Twitter should be everyone’s best friend it is the easiest way to reach out to people around the world.
14. How did you get into the business of music engineering and working with producer Harry Fraud?
John Sparkz: Well I wanted to be an engineer way before I ever made a rap song or anything so that was always my mindset. But as far as me and Fraud go, about 2 years ago I was really looking to start doing engineering seriously and my friend Bizkit (big shoutout to Bizkit) told me that Harry was looking for an engineer, and sure enough one day my phone rings and it was Harry and then its been history ever since.
15. As an independent artist, which is the one factor you currently desire most (increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, club performances etc…)?
John Sparkz: I always am very serious when it comes to any media exposure and any distribution simply just because someone is destined to listen to the song, read the article or whatever it is. And that’s all that matters to me.
16. How do you distribute and promote your music (Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, Your own Website, Youtube etc.) and why?
John Sparkz: I upload a lot of my songs to Youtube or any file sharing website, just so people can hear it, my single “My Life’s Like a Movie” is on iTunes.
17. How do you handle criticism? Who has been your worst critic, if any?
John Sparkz: I handle criticism in different ways really. Like if someone is giving me criticism like “Yo John you should cut out that adlib, or John try dubbing the chorus more” I’m cool with that! I expect that, but if you cross the line between constructive criticizing and talking shit then I get ticked off. As far as the worst critics go, I feel like sometimes your friends are the worst!!! There have been times I played a record for my girl and she would say she loved it but she would never tell me if it sucked! Feel me? She was my biggest fan so I guess its support sometimes you need too!
18. Is going platinum or winning a Grammy important you? Where would you like to see your career within 5 years?
John Sparkz: In 5 years I see myself doing both of those, I set very high bars for myself. A Grammy is every engineer and musicians dream. I would love to have a Grammy sitting on my desk. I plan to outwork everyone and succeed to getting one.
19. What in your opinion is the biggest barrier an artist like yourself, has to face and overcome, to gain any commercial success?
John Sparkz: As sad as it is, my skin color, the media and everyone really made it tough, with Em being who he is, and then you have rappers like MGK and Mac Miller who are horrible, it makes it so I have shoes to fill if that makes sense, its horrible its like I have to do drugs or trash hotel rooms all the time to gain success. I’m not with that at all.
20. If you were not a music artist, what would you be doing today?
John Sparkz: It’s odd I couldn’t picture what I would be doing. Probably playing baseball or basketball, before music took over I was throwing 78 MPH in 7th grade haha. I love sports so most likely I would have been in that field.