Having wowed the world with his debut self titled album, Sam Sparro became an Australian export and expat, basing himself in L.A. His single "Black & Gold' tore up charts the world over and through the popularity of his music and some clever social media use, he found himself collaborating with the likes of Adam Lamberts, Basement Jaxx and DMC.
Having released his second album Return to Paradise in June this year, Sam Sparro is finally heading back to our shores to hit the Homebake stage and share his new album and some old hits with his home crowds.
As a huge Blondie fan himself Sparro is looking forward to playing the new look Homebake line-up, saying; "I'm super excited about playing with Blondie, I'm a huge Blondie fan. I was really, really excited when I saw the line-up, it's going to be fun. It's going to be a nice, familiar group of people too; there are friends of mine on the line-up like Kimbra and Daniel Merriweather. So it'll be nice to see them and watch them play and to see Blondie play for the first time too, I've never seen them play, but I have all of their records".
Sparro gave each question a lot of thought and all of his attention, always looking for the best way to express himself, like he does with his music and film clips. We had a huge conversation about his second album, Return to Paradise, and all the processes Sparro had to go through to release this album, which he had to cut down from 60 songs.
Sparro said, "I was starting to make a record that was really inspired by punk and it was a lot darker and kind of angry and dreary. Then I started making more straight up top 40ish dance pop songs and then other songs and it was obvious that it all just didn't fit together. It all just started to fill itself out in a way in the end. I'm finding the response quite good, it seems like people that like it are really in to it and it seems like I've gotten some new fans through it, so it's good. It's kind of nerve wracking when you put something out, but I'm really pleased with the response and I'm really happy with the album".
The musical side of Return to Paradise focuses more on live music creation, rather than the previous synth and drum machine heavy music we are used to from Sparro, which he brings down to influences at the time, and having more time and money; saying " I think it was something that I always wanted to do and I had the time and a bit of a budget to play around with for this recording. I was really nostalgic at the time too, and I was listening to a lot of old records and really meditating on New York City in the late 70s to mid 80s and that whole period of nightlife there and disco and soul and funk. So I was collecting records and I became really infatuated with how those records were made and how musical they were and how people were really playing instruments in the studio and they had to be good at them because it was all on tape. So they had to get everything in one take, not like now, where everything is so highly edited and processed. So that was inspiring to me as a musician. I think it was an album that helped me grow and push myself as a composer, arranger and songwriter. I've already started my next record though and that's a lot more production and synth heavy and programmed again".
The album was written when Sparro was going through some difficult times dealing with a breakup and life in general and as such can read like a personal story book of someone with nothing to hide, though this is exactly how Sparro sees himself and how he wants to be seen. "I don't really worry about revealing too much of myself. I've always been very honest and I think of myself as quite transparent in a lot of ways, that's my nature and I think its part of being an artist. It's totally cathartic to release these things and get them off my chest and give them to an audience, that can then use them for therapy as well" Sparrow said.
The single from the new album "I wish I never met you" sees the viewer transported back to the prohibition, and my question of whether he was comparing relationships to high stakes poker and mafia violence brought around a lot of laughter and thought, with Sparro eventually saying; "Not consciously. I was comparing the relationship between lovers to the relationship with alcohol, which was why I set it in the times of prohibition. It's sort of like the tale of a boozy outlaw, told through my relationship in some weird twisted way".
While Sparro wasn't busy working on his ever increasing library of personally created music, he was busy collaborating with some of the world's best, which Sparro says both enhanced his career and taught him lessons; " It's really fun to collaborate, I like collaborating, especially with artist's that you have things in common with or you can learn things from. I always learn something when I'm working with somebody else. I think it's beneficial to your career, in the sense that it can widen your audience or expose you to an audience that hasn't heard of you or your music before, and because you get to learn something from other talented people, who have a different skill set. Sometimes you get stuck in rut with your song writing and you just go to the same bag of tricks over and over again when you run out of melodies, or chords or ideas, but when you're collaborating it helps break you out of that" he said.
Having always been outspoken about sexualisation within the industry, Sparro got himself in a bit of trouble recently when a journalist misquoted him as referring to certain treatments in the industry as "reverse sexism", which Sparro adamantly denied saying, " I need to go on the record and say I never said reverse sexism, I don't think there is such a thing as reverse sexism or reverse racism, there's just sexism and racism. I think it's a very sexist industry there are not a lot of women in dominant executive roles and it's a bit of a boys club and that has an effect on the way women are perceived in the industry and through that the way men are perceived. A lot of doors are closed to Male performers too, if things are seen as too flamboyant or not macho and masculine enough. It's really sexist and misogynistic industry."
Having cleared the air, and wanting to end our interview on a happier topic, we turned to Sparro's other love, Fashion, which has recently taken him to Paris Fashion Week. Sam said, "I love fashion. I went to fashion week there twice this year, I went to the summer shows and to the fall shows. It's an awesome experience, and it's great for me, because I get to order clothes directly from the houses before the stores get them. It's fun too, I love clothes, I've received some criticism on Facebook for posting too much stuff about fashion, but I like fashion.
Sparro will be playing this year's Homebake on August 8th (The Domain, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney)with artists that include Blondie, Hilltop Hoods, Kimbra, Angus Stone, Birds of Tokyo, Julia Stone, Daniel Merriweather, a host of comedians and heaps more. To see the full line-up or purchase tickets go to http://homebake.com.au/2012/