Clinton Sparks is the definition of a workaholic. He has 10-plus projects staring him in the face at the moment and he strives to obtain about 10 more. Some of the endeavors have already hit the airwaves, like the remix he created for Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary,” of which the original has scored him a 2012 Grammy nomination. For a Boston boy who had his head buried in turntables and production equipment on the come-up, the nod is a dream come true. However, it’s an accomplishment earned due to his tireless work ethic.
But just because he’s constantly behind the boards doesn’t mean he’s a bore. “I have become the life of the party,” Sparks tells Rap-Up.com. Besides mixing records in the clubs, on his syndicated SmashTime Radio show, and playing some of his latest mixtape cuts on SiriusXM’s Shade 45, the DJ interviews Hollywood’s biggest stars and the music industry’s chart-topping talents as an E! correspondent. He uses his charm and comedic personality to deliver exclusive information to the masses. With over 14 years in the business, getting down to the nitty-gritty is second nature.
Looking at Sparks’ résumé proves his skill in crafting substantial tracks. Plies, T-Pain, Bun B, the Notorious B.I.G., Beyoncé, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, and Akon are just a few of the names he’s produced and written records for. Yes, Clinton Sparks is a songwriter too.
Read on as the Interscope Records signee—he has an official album due this year—gives insight into the hectic life he leads, explains why he’s connected to a disco ball, and reveals the next track he’s dropping with Pitbull.
1. How long have you been a DJ?
2. What are you currently working on?
I am always working on multiple things simultaneously, so today I am working on music for everyone’s album from Usher to Enrique [Iglesias] to Mike Posner. Additionally, I am working on my album with awesome pals like Jim Jonsin, Rico Love, DJ R3hab, [and] DJ Snake, and I am preparing to release my first single titled “Watch You” featuring Pitbull (Get Familiar/Mass Appeal/Strictly Rhythm). I am also going to release My Awesome Mixtape 2 and consistently put out remixes and bootlegs. I’ll also release my own music; I have a new song produced by Jim Jonsin on My Awesome Mixtape 2 titled “The Life of the Party.” I just finished editing the video to my band UGHmerica’s second single “Outta Town.” We’ll release that with the song next month and I just posted a remix to the song that got me my 2012 Grammy nomination—Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary”—which can be downloaded free, along with all my other songs and mixes, at clintonsparks.com.
3. How did you get your first big break?
I don’t think I ever had one big break. It’s been a culmination of many little victories—from becoming a host on E! News, to being Diddy’s tour DJ, to my syndicated my radio show, to writing and producing some platinum records, to becoming a resident DJ in Las Vegas, to being able to work with some huge names in the business, to being recognized as a top DJ by Rolling Stone, to endorsement deals with Pepsi [and] Ciroc, to creating and owning Mixunit.com, which was the biggest mixtape culture website that I am no longer apart of. The list goes on. I have been very fortunate to consistently be a part of some amazing things. Life is awesome!
4. Moment when you knew you had made it?
I don’t think that I have “made it.” I’m not naïve to know other people may think I have achieved great success, but I have really high standards and I am a workaholic [and] overachiever so when, for example, I’m told that I am nominated for a Grammy, my next thought is, “Great! What do I got to do next?” I never really relish in accomplishment. I am always nervous it will all go away tomorrow, so I keep my head down and stay working. I’m probably going to be one of those guys that work until I die. The great thing about my work is that it’s what I would be doing for fun.
5. Favorite artists right now?
I don’t have one favorite artist out right now. I think there’s so much talent out and not technically “out” but [instead] on the Internet or underground. I love that artistry has demolished the rules and guidelines of what an artist traditionally has to be in the eyes of record labels. Artists are writing, producing, singing, rapping, shooting their videos, editing them, [and] taking pics. They are self-sufficient and they pull from all types of music. A kids’ iPod doesn’t just have one genre of music any longer and that is indicative of what these new artists, including myself, reflect—a melting pot of everything we grew up on. A hybrid artist with no category.
6. Artists to look out for in 2012?
Clinton Sparks, Sammy Adams, UGHmerica, and Disco Fries.
7. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Convincing people to believe in my vision and ideas. It was difficult to just get out of Boston and convince people there and outside of what I had in my head. I just consistently kept putting music out and didn’t understand the word “no” or realized that obstacles even existed. Therefore, once I set a goal, it was accomplished, every time. I could tell 100 stories of triumph by not letting hate or doubt get in my way but that’s an interview in itself.
8. Future goals?
I want to make people happy and create music that people can use and not just listen to. I’m working on my album and crafting music that not only people can relate to but feel something emotionally as well. I love to write about scenarios that we all go through and can relate to. A lot of my writing for this album has been speaking to people who love, whether it’s life, others, partying, or yourself. I am threaded in the party life. It has become a massive part of my life. I’m connected to the disco ball and chain.
9. What record always gets the party started?
Whatever record I decide to play. It’s not about the song, it’s about how you play it, set it up, and use it. Of course for certain crowds, there are go-to, no-brainer records that will get an immediate reaction. I like records that have energy and drive. Records that even if you never heard it, it evokes an emotion that makes you want to rage.
10. What’s your advice to aspiring DJs?
It’s very important to establish who you are, your style, taste, [and] personality to get a fan base to like you for you and to stand out. Virtually anybody can say they are a DJ but what you do and how you do it is the difference between you saying, “I’m a DJ” to people saying, “That’s my favorite DJ.” It’s also important to produce music as well. Be the first “you” and not the second “somebody else” and you will, for certain, find people that do not like you, but more importantly, ones that love you.