It's time to get familiar. As a matter of fact, you should already be familiar with one of the most innovative, influential DJs of our time, Clinton Sparks a.k.a. Mr. Get Familiar, as he was once introduced on his 2010 Get Familiar Vol. X mixtape. One of the hardest-working producers and DJs in the business, Sparks has worked with a who's who list of artists, including Ludacris, Diddy, Akon, Kanye West, and Mike Posner. Now he's busier than ever as he juggles studio time, a gig as E!'s weekend music correspondent, and the host of Sirius Satellite Radio's "SmashTime Radio" show on Eminem's channel Shade 45. Get familiar after the jump.
BroBible: Word on the street is you are working on an album. Can you tell us a little about it?
Clinton Sparks: Yes I recently signed a record deal with Interscope records. It will not be a DJ album. I am actually the artist and the music leans more pop/rock. I'm very influenced by bands from Weezer to Queen. My intentions have always been to be known as a producer and songwriter but no one would listen to my music so I merely used my DJ ability to gain credibilty and relationships within the industry.
What are your songs about and how much creative control do you have over your music?
As of now, I have had all the creative control because I have never been signed to a label but I'm sure people will have their input and I'll have to deal with that I suppose. My music is based on life. I have music about how you love your friends but they suck sometimes to music about that girl you hook up with and the next morning she says "I hope you don't think I do this with just anybody" to relationships. I'm really excited for people to hear my album.
What was your first experience in music and what song do you remember from your childhood most that has continued to impact your journey in the music industry today?
Well, Teddy Riley has been the most influential musician to me from producing Michael Jackson to Blackstreet. He's one of the reasons I wanted to be a producer. Ironically and awesomely enough, I got to produce a track together with him recently. Saaaaweeeet! Anyhow, him and Freddy Mercury's amazing writing and singing talent.
What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
There was no one incident that made me want to make music. It was a culmination of being exposed to so much music that my mom would play; MTV playing videos, when they use to do that; and sort of not fitting into one social circle. So basically music was my friend and we seemed to enjoy each others' company. Inevitably since I dropped out of music school, didn't persue college, and injured my spine working at UPS, I kinda had no choice but to make my dream-slash-hobby of making music for a living a reality.
If you had an opportunity to change something about the music industry what would it be?
I believe in the "who's to say what's good or bad theory," so, with the good comes the bad and vice versa. The only thing I would like to see is people respecting others' hard work, meaning, if you don't like someone's music, just say it's not for you. No need to literally go out and bash them and hate on it and tell other people it sucks. That's mean-spirited and uncool. But, I guess that's more life, not just the industry.
Aside from being in the studio working on the album, you have also been involved with many other projects such as E!, Shade 45, etc. Can you tell us what these other projects are all about?
Yes, I am the music correspodent for E! Entertainment weekly on E! News, where I interview celebs related to music and get people familiar with music news and new album releases. I also have a syndicated radio show in over 20 cities called Smashtimeradio playing top 40/hip hop/club music and interviewing celebrities which you can download the podcast weekly on smashtimeradio.com. Additionally, I have a seperate radio show on Eminem's Shade 45 on XM/Sirius Satelite, which is all uncensored hip-hop.
How do you see DJing in today's music scene? Everybody with a decent computer has the ability to sample and mashup tracks. What distinguishes some DJs, such as yourself, from others?
It really comes down to knowledge of music, people's emotions, and your energy. You could have all of the Neptunes drumkits but it doesn't mean you will make beats like them. So every DJ could have the same music and software in front of the same crowd but stand-out DJs can do different things with the same tools. Not all DJs are good on the mic, not all are good turntablists. It comes down to the forementioned.
You have written and produced some amazing chart-topping records, can you tell us about this?
Yes, I have been fortunate enough to place records that had success on the charts. I have produced and written songs for people such as Akon, Pitbull, Ludacris, Soulja Boy, Plies, Beyonce, Diddy, Bun B, Clipse, Rick Ross, Fabolous, and Sean Kingston. I am just getting started. I have a lot of records in the can and all I do is live music so you will be getting familiar with a lot more music soon, especially mine. Yesssss!!
Who is more crucial for a song's success: the songwriter, the performer, or the producer?
They are all instrumental components to a song's awesomeness. You can't have one without the other unless, of course, one person does it all.
How did you become so credible within the mixtape world and which one is your favorite?
Well it really came down to literally getting in my truck and driving up and down the East Coast just looking for barber shops,music stores, and sneaker shops,that I could put my mixtapes in. I treated my mixtapes like drugs, I knew if I gave out for free you would come back and get more. It was also a different time, and we all know timing is everything. Then I wanted to help other DJs get exposure so I started a website called mixunit.com which became the holy grail for mixtapes and DJs. I have tons of stories I could share of how I got to the level I got to but that's an interview in its own. The projects I'm most proud of strictly due to the fact it not only involved my ability to mix and make music but my marketing andpromo ability along with my team to make them much bigger than a "mixtape." Here's my top 10 favorite mixtapes that I've been involved in (all of these can be downloaded for free at clintonsparks.com):
- Clipse & the Re-up Gang "We got it for Cheap" Vol 1 & 2
- Chester French "Jaques Jams Vol.1: Endurance
- Kanye West "Touch The Sky"
- Smashtimeradio Shade 45 Edition
- Eminem Anger Management
- Diddy "Hip Hop Rockstar Vol. 2
- Pitbull & DJ Snake "Shut it Down" mixtape
- Mike Posner "One Foot out the Door"
- Busta Rhymes "New Crack City"
- 1Kay Slay "Kill Yourself"
Clinton Sparks's new album is coming soon. To download Clinton Sparks's music or see funny videos go to clintonsparks.com and get familiar!