Clinton Sparks is a musician on a meteoric rise. However, to call him a musician would be a sin of omission; he is so much more than that. Clinton Sparks is a businessman, an entrepreneur, a networker, a director, and an athlete. After spending the day with him, it’s clear that Clinton can accomplish anything that he sets his sights on, whether that’s creating a multi-million dollar website, making Grammy-nominated hit records, or signing a deal with a major Hollywood TV production company. The scary thing: he’s only getting started.
Now that I have the obligatory introductory stuff out of the way, I'll describe what it's like to spend a day with him. But just in case you’re not looking to actually do the work of reading the rest of the article, here’s a TL;DR for you:
Met up at the hotel, ran into a plethora of Comic-Con people, may or may not have heard snippets of a new collaboration with Rick Ross and Mackelmore, met people running event pretending to be Clinton’s assistant, got driven to event in bone-chilling cold on a golf-cart, learned that “Boba Fett” means “fat balls”, arrived at Mardi Gras aka SlopFest, saw boobies, got hit in head by cigar while on-stage outside, saw boobies again, started Clinton's first set, watched drunk guy fall off-stage, saw more boobies, smoked aforementioned cigar (while seeing boobies), raged with random drunk middle-aged people (thankfully no boobies there), watched people struggle to make tea in a fully functional restaurant kitchen, started second set, saw final round of boobies, finished second set, went back to hotel, found lady passed out in hallway, conducted formal interview, and went back home.
If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me. If you’re just looking for a tl;dnr for the tl;dnr, fuck you.
I had unprecedented and unfiltered access to Clinton Sparks, charading as his assistant for the day. Clinton has an understanding of others unrivaled by anyone I have ever met, and a way of instantly putting you at ease (or as easy as you can be around someone as brilliant as him). And I should clarify that Clinton Sparks is not in fact a “slight man with striking gray eyes [and] freckles on his pale skin”, as a certain Boston Globe reporter would have you believe, but rather a tall, in-shape dude, with light green eyes, and a strong tan. In fact, I’m not sure who the reporter was talking about, and neither is Clinton, although he did say that he finds the description extremely amusing.
But that’s just the type of guy that Clinton is. He doesn’t hold things against people, doesn’t ever stay angry for more than five minutes, and will help anyone that he possibly can. Case in point, he spent ten minutes after his last set hunting down a drunk fan who had asked him for an autograph right before he went on. When I joke about it, he very seriously says, “Don’t take life and things in it for granted. Don’t focus on what you don’t have, rather enjoy and appreciate what you do have. Don’t worry about other people. Everyone always wants to be like someone or have what someone else has. Just be glad about what you have. I am very glad, very fortunate.” In a world where people brush off the fans and ignore their attempts at communication, it’s refreshing to see someone who values a fan’ taking the time out to appreciate what he does. He made a good point, asking that if this was such a big deal to his fan, and required so little effort from him, why would he not do it?
I should also stress that this “love-everyone” mentality extends beyond just his supporters too. Sparks continues, adding, “If I can help anyone in any way, and make their life better, why not do it? If me helping them means they can help someone else, and then that person helps someone, and so on, now we’ve got a bunch of people all helping each other out and making the world better!” He even applies this philosophy to people who have wronged him in the past, saying, “If I’ve got a key to a door that you need to get through, why would I not give it to you, just because you didn’t help me before? Why would I tell you that I’ll only help you if you pay me, that’s stupid. If I can help you, I’m going to.” It sounds simple when he says it, but it’s no easy task loving everyone. Yet somehow, Clinton manages to completely embody this idea, doing anything he can to help others – even drunk women passed out in the hall of his hotel.
Riding to the show in blistering cold (...who the fuck drives around St. Louis in a golf cart in the middle of February?), Clinton and I had our first chance to really talk, and over the course of the conversation, we found ourselves discussing his love for tea, at which point I asked him if he’d ever tried bubble tea. "Oh. My. God." The look he got on his face was like a kid at Christmas. After telling me how fattening the boba in bubble tea is, he then asked me if I knew what “boba” meant. Keep in mind, I was playing his assistant and there were people around, so I simply said no, though in my head I was wondering why the fuck I would possibly know that. Turns out, Clinton’s a bit of a Star Wars fan and he explained that “boba” means “balls”. He then went on to explain that “fett” means "fat." See what he was getting at? No? Let me elaborate: Boba Fett literally means “fat balls." One of the most badass dudes in a galaxy far far away is really named "FAT BALLS."
It also should be noted that Clinton is from Boston, and as such, he pretty much has his pick of winning teams to root for. Not only is he a die-hard Red Sox fan, he’s also penned a song specifically for the team – one that he thinks could be their new anthem. He says that he hasn’t approached the organization yet, but I’ve no doubt that when he does officially unveil his ode to the Sox, it will be met with open arms. Chances it will be echoing off the Green Monster for years to come like "Sweet Caroline" are high.
When we finally got around to talking about his past, present, and future projects, I inquire whether he's released any work hat he would change in hindsight. He replies that he would never change anything he’s done. Not because he’s cocky, but because he doesn’t believe in regrets. Clinton explained that he is of the school of thought that everything in life happens for a reason, and that even when he was stressing over money because he was broke and living paycheck to paycheck, something would happen and he’d somehow get money in a way he didn’t expect to happen. Everything just managed to work its way out.
Sparks continues, adding that after making it through that, “there’s literally no reason to ever stress in life because it’s gonna be fine! Everything’s gonna be fine! So I really don’t get upset about things, I don’t regret things, or ever yell really, and when things do bother me or upset me, I’m over it in five minutes.” He admits that even though it may sound cheesy or zen-ish, he loves everything he’s ever done and that there’s probably a reason that things he wasn’t a part of didn’t happen. He says the worst thing he’s ever said is “I wish I did that”, but he doesn’t lose sleep over any of it.
However, that said, don’t be fooled into thinking that Sparks just waits for good things to come to him. He has one of the best work ethics in the business, which coupled with his charm is probably why he’s made so many friends in the business. I mean, how many people do you know who can joke around with Samuel L. Jackson about his banging white chicks back in the day, allude to Jackson being his father, and then get him into a parody of “Pulp Fiction” for an intro to his mixtape?
He recently uploaded his 100th YouTube video and didn’t even notice. When asked about it, all he had to say is “is a hundred a lot?"
This got me curious as to how long his days are. On average, Clinton says he gets about four hours of sleep a night, just because his brain is constantly coming up with new ideas and he wants to make as many of them realities as possible. One of these "dream projects" is a collaboration between two music industry heavyweights for a new record he’ll be releasing soon on his new "Disco Ball & Chain” album, which he'll be singing on. I heard the track and it's ABSOLUTE FIRE. When he played it during his set, the crowd went nuts, causing a massive uptick dancing. It's slated to come out sometime in April.
Between spending most of the day spinning and keeping the audience hyped, saving a drunk chick, playing me new music, and showering love on everyone he met, Clinton still had the energy to crack jokes and take pictures with fans. However, when we got to talking, it was clear to see that for all of his humility and jokes, this is a man with his head on straight. We discussed a variety of subjects, from future business ventures to his music to social media and its implications on society. With every topic we broached, it was harder and harder to keep my jaw from hitting the floor. I mean, this dude may make music and rage, but he does a lot behind the scenes too and is planning to do even more.
However, even though he’s not known for all the work he’s done with other artists under the radar, Clinton says that he’s pleased that overall that DJs nowadays are getting the credit they deserve. He likes them to rock stars – a far cry from just ten or fifteen years ago. He says chuckling, “DJs are the lead singer of the band after the band cracks and the leader singer takes off and does his solo album. Where’s the band members - who cares, we only want to see you!”
On the topic of the sheer amount of music that he releases, and how it’s received, Clinton talked about how at the top of last year he released a new track every week for three months – an impressive feat – but that he doesn’t view it as impressive, rather as necessary. He said “It’s hard to say what’s too much or too little, because people’s appetites for more content – they’re always starving for it. People are over stuff in a week and then they need something new. Plus you’re bombarded with so much stuff that you have to be ultra-cool or interesting – light years ahead of everything else because there’s so much stuff on the internet. It’s endless – it’s like counting stars in the sky.”
As the night grew older, Clinton was visibly tired from the day’s festivities. He had come to St. Louis, allowed me to step into his world for a day, and put on a performance as big as the Gateway Arch.
As the interview came to a close I asked Clinton what he wanted the world to know about him. In true Clinton Sparks fashion he responded, “I like spooning because it leads to forking.”
Get Familiar, indeed.