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Music Interview

Sam Sparro

By
Sam Sparro
Great voice? Check. Decent sense of style? You betcha. Storming first single? Absobloodylutely! Sam Sparro, a Sydney-born, LA-based former child actor whose musical influences range from Petula Clark to Lady Sovereign, is one of the most exciting new talents of 2008. With the spine-tingling, soul-tinged electropop of 'Black and Gold' powering towards the top ten, we called Sam to discuss life, music and... err... McDonald's ads.

Has music always been a big part of your life?
"I'm from a long line of musicians - I think I'm actually the fourth generation of musician in my family. I played piano as a child and sang in the church choir, but when I was a teenager I started programming music and making electronic records. I was in a few bands too, later on. Yeah, I've kind of always been in music, really."

What sort of music did previous generations of Sparro make?
"My grandfather is a really well-known Australian jazz musician. He was the trumpet player in a TV orchestra for, like, 30 years and played with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. My father was a gospel recording artist, but his tastes were quite varied. He was into rock and soul too."

What do they think of their music?
"They're all really proud, but my grandmother checks my MySpace page just about every day. It's really funny."

You appeared in a McDonald's ad when you were younger, didn't you?
"Yeah, I was about eight at the time. My grandmother was a dancer and an actress - she was always performing somewhere, even if it was just in the kitchen - and she thought I'd be a great little child star. She insisted that I got an agent and started taking jobs, but apparently I just got really obnoxious and my mum pulled the plug."

What did you have to do in the McDonald's ad?
"I had to dress as a pirate and play in the McDonald's 'Play Place', jumping about in the ball pond and stuff like that. I'm very proud."

Moving on... what's the single, 'Black and Gold', about?
"It's pretty much about existential moments: does God exist? What are we all doing here? I was thinking about the origins of the universe when I wrote it - you know, nothing much, really! The black is the space in between and the gold is the stars."

Is that something you think about a lot?
"It had kinda been looming for a while. There was a period in my life where I wasn't that happy and didn't feel I had much direction, but that song was kinda the turning point for me. I just picked up a pen one afternoon and it all came out really quickly; it about two years ago that I wrote it."

How's your album coming along?
"I've almost finished it. I think it's coming out May 5th, so it's all happening pretty quickly."

How important to what you do is your sense of style?
"It's important to me in the sense that I like to wear things that reflect who I am and what I'm interested in. I have a lot of friends who are designers and stylists and stuff, so they help me out. Besides, it's quite fun to play dress up, isn't it?"

Are you enjoying the attention that comes with being a popstar?
"Positive attention is nice, but people say really weird things on the internet, don't they? I've no business reading it, because I don't know who these people are and I shouldn't really care. There's no shame with some of them, though, they just say what they want. Everything is so gossip-driven these days, and everybody's so interested in gossiping about other people, and it's because it's all anonymous."

Have you got a thick skin when it comes to that kind of thing?
"I'd like to think so. I was quite unpopular in school when I first moved to the States and I was quite used to people being mean and vicious, so if that does happen to me, I'll just revert to what I was like in those days. I handled it [then] by acting more strangely than ever. If someone calls me weird, I just think, 'I'll give you something even weirder then. How about that?'"

'Black And Gold' is out on download now.

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