I’ve been dying to chat to Sam Sparro for quite some time now – we’ve been playing a bit of email tag lately, but finally managed to catch each other on the same time zone a few days ago. His debut self-titled “Sam Sparro” album in 2008 was one that I never grew tired of. Even his B-sides were nothing short of amazing – “No End In Sight” – hello. After two singles and non-stop worldwide touring for a year-and-a-half, Sam Sparro took some out to focus on remixing, writing and creating his highly-anticipated second album “Return To Paradise” which is slated for an early 2011 release.
In this EQ interview with Sam Sparro – we talk about the process of creating the new album, what happened to the release of “Pocket”, what’s happening with “Pink Cloud”, his anticipated return of the 90s sound and what he thinks about the unfairness of expression of sexuality in music.
Oh, and check out the exclusive photo of Sam Sparro above that he sent to us. If you are thinking “Wow – I need to have that on my wall…” then you’re in luck – you will very soon be able to order that image as a poster on his official website in the very near future as part of the “Pink Cloud” artwork. Enjoy!
Hello Mr. Sam Sparro – are you in sunny LA today?
Yes I am – it’s a bit hot today. How is San Francisco?
It’s a bit cold – the fog has moved in…
That sounds about right…have you been enjoying your US trip?
I have – it’s nice to get back to the states and “be American” every so often…
Yes, America – she’s an evil bitch sometimes isn’t she?
Yes she is!
She keeps drawing us back! [laughs]
So tell me, what have you been doing with yourself since the debut album. We noticed you’ve been lending your fine vocals to a few other artists tracks…Basement Jaxx etc.
Well since I stopped touring, I was on the road for year and a half and I wrote a lot of songs. I’ve done about forty songs and I have a fairly good idea of what songs are going on the album. I’ve done bits of remixing, I did a project with Mark Ronson called “Chauffeur” and did some gigs in Tokyo, London and New York. I’ve done lots of writing with Cathy Dennis, Adam Lambert, Natasha Bedingfield – just sort of busy in the studio. I’ve just now sort of got my new live show together and I just did my first show this year on Sunday…
Your show at the Sunset Junction Festival…
Yeah it went really well. We got really good reviews and the crowd was incredible. It was the first time we did some new material and the response was great, we tried out some new production and lighting and new costumes – I would say it was a smash! It was good!
What’s up with the mysterious new song called “Pink Cloud”?
“Pink Cloud” – it’s not the first single. I wanted to put something out before the first single, so “Pink Cloud” is kinda a tribute to a lot of the music I grew up listening to in the early 90s and when I was a child. Nightlife, especially in LA, is starting to come back with house and it’s kinda a celebration of that…
You must be totally be loving it – one thing I remember about your live shows was the Blackbox feel you brought to it – you must be loving the return of the 90s…
Yes, I’m loving it. I’ve been anticipating it for awhile. There are hints of that on the record. I didn’t want to be too “referential” on the record, but it’s kinda my way of paying tribute.
Sam explains that this current look by designer Asher Levine is one of his most favorite styles – check out more of Asher’s designs on his website where he dresses the likes of Lady Gaga, Dangerous Muse and Pam Ann.
Can you tell us a little bit about the new album…I will totally understand if you can’t divulge yet…
I can tell you some stuff about it! It’s called “Return To Paradise”. It’s gonna be out early 2011. I’ll put the first single out before that – maybe two singles…It’s called “Return To Paradise” because I was really inspired by New York nightlife in the 80s – in particular DJ Larry Lavan from Paradise Garage. But it’s also about finding balance again, inner peace, coping with the challenges in your life and fantasy versus reality. It’s really a very personal album but still really pop and I really can’t wait for people to hear it.
How was it returning to the studio for the follow-up album? Organic? Tough? Easy? I know you worked extremely hard on the first album.
It was kinda daunting at first, just because for the first album I was a new artist and no one ever heard of me before – there was a certain amount of freedom with that. Going back in after having some success you kind of have all these voices in your head and extra-added influences to deal with – so it was a challenge. But I think the journey of making this album happened in many stages. I started off doing some minimal and quite punky tracks, but still dancey and went into more of an R&B stage then went into a more straight up dance stage. Now I’m tying it all together and it seems to make a really good piece of work.
I for one certainly can’t wait to hear it. Talk us through your current Twitter and website design – it’s very Tom Of Finaland now isn’t it?
[Laughs] – Yes, there is definitely a Tom of Finaland look happening. [laughs again].
Did you style that yourself?
No I did that particular shoot in Australia a few months ago with a young photographer named Jamie. He has a blog called www.OhJamie.com and I guess it’s got a hint of the 90s as well. A bit of the Madonna “Sex” book…
Yes, I can totally see that now!
I didn’t want to give away a lot, so it’s still mysterious I think.
Yes, I love how your eyes are covered up…Now “Black And Gold” gets covered quite a lot these days – How do you feel when you hear other artists covering your huge hit? Do you like it?
I really, really enjoy it. I honestly do. It’s amazing to have a song that many people know and want to sing. It’s great – it makes me happy! [Laughs]
Let’s go back a bit. My absolute favorite song of yours was the B-side “No End In Sight”. Love that track, tell me more about it.
Really? Wow! I guess that’s me being political. I wrote that song in the tail end of the Bush era [laughs]. I guess I was feeling quite disappointed in the way things were going in this country and around the world. There was just a big tense feeling that a lot of people felt around that time. The feeling like we lost a lot of our privacy and the laws that changed that gave the government access to all our telephone calls and emails. It really pissed me off! [laughs]
I always wanted to ask you this – what happened to the release of “Pocket”…that was and still is my favourite song of yours from the first album. I heard it was going to be the third single from the debut album, but it never surfaced…
You know it was just one of those things. I feel it would have been a great single. It’s one of the songs people respond to most when we do live shows. At that point, I was having a bit of difficulty with the label. The guy who signed me was the head of the label and he left. There was just a lack of enthusiasm after that. They were just convinced that they didn’t want to push it as a single – that’s what happened. As far as I’m concerned, it WAS the third single really.
Openly gay artistry these days…Is it changing with the likes of you, Scissor Sisters, Joe McElderry from the X-Factor…Adam Lambert?
I think it defintely is changing and it has changed. I still think there’s a ways to go. I don’t even necessarily think it’s a gay or straight issue. I think there is a difference in the way society perceives female entertainers and male entertainers and how often times female entertainers are allowed to express their sexuality much more openly than male entertainers – especially gay male entertainers. The whole thing with Adam Lambert kissing the guy on TV, it was really blown completely out of proportion and it really highlighted the double standard in the media. The evidence is right there. So I think that things are changing, but people do have some catching up to do…
Well that’s it Sam – thanks for allowing us to ask you a few questions – I’ve been wanting to chat with your for awhile now…
Glad we could finally get it together!