Exclusive Interview: Michelle Sparks


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Following a swathe of critically acclaimed releases on the likes of Octopus Recordings, Press Play, Weekend Weapons and DNCTRX over the course of her illustrious musical career, prolific US techno maven Michelle Sparks has got the production credentials to rival some of the best in the business. Now, and as she looks to continue her inexhaustible run of first-rate studio output, Michelle adds to her already stellar career discography with an exquisite official remix for Dusty Kid & Marascia’s iconic 2009 cut, WIWY. Out now via internationally lauded, LA-based imprint, Octopus Recordings – a label which she has come to call home over the past few years – Sparks pulls out all the stops for another landmark release, combining an expert amalgamation of luscious, rolling basslines, intricately layered drum patterns and sweeping euphoric breakdowns, to deliver a melodic techno weapon of gargantuan proportions. We caught up from Michelle from her home in Phoenix to find out more…

Hi Michelle, a very warm welcome to We Own The Nite NYC. Great to have you with us!

Thanks for having me!

Please can you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Michelle Sparks, I’m a producer & DJ based in Phoenix, signed to techno label Octopus Recordings. 

Despite everything that’s going on in the world right now, how has 2021 been for you so far?

2021 has been better than 2020 I’d say so far. I feel there’s a glimmer of hope so far that things will be starting to shift back to some sort of normal for events and I think there’s a bit more of an air of positivity everywhere right now. It’s also been a very busy start to the year, starting to get real life events going soon and also spending a lot of time in the studio before that happens. 

Huge congratulations on your remix of Dusty Kid and Marascia – WIWY on Octopus Recordings. We’re absolutely loving it here over at WOTN. Can you talk to us about the record and the creative process behind remixing such an iconic track?

Thanks! So glad you’re liking it, well Dusty Kid remixed my track ‘Melt’ last year, and then near Christmas last year his team and the Octopus team reached out to see if I’d like to remix WIWY and of course I was so honored. What a legendary track and so many memories when I hear it always. It’s always a challenge to remix such an iconic track but I tried to really take several elements of it that I felt are integral to the track and weave it into my groovy sound ready for the late night dance floor. I actually worked on two versions of the remix, simultaneously because I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted the final to end up, but then once the one that’s coming out took the right turn I knew that was the one.

We see you have a longstanding connection with Octopus. How did the introduction to Sian and the team come about? 

Well, I co-founded a techno event brand called ‘Circuit’ out in Arizona many years ago with my fellow label mate Juheun, we ended up booking Sian for a party in around 2012 or so, and then we developed a friendship over the years, having him back several times to play and then eventually reaching out to him about putting some music out on the label. We all are super like-minded and really clicked together, and from there it just kind of took off. 

With the majority of the world having been under restrictions over the past twelve months, what have you been doing to keep yourself busy during this period?

What a crazy year it’s been for sure. It was almost like a full on reset, having no shows or anything going on. In the beginning I was working a lot on music in the studio, having a lot of time where I wasn’t playing out or traveling or going out doing much of anything it was nice to be able to really spend a lot of time writing music. After a few months though, it was more challenging to find creative inspiration in the studio and so I shifted a bit more into live-streaming, playing regular sets on Twitch and then this year starting up a weekly residency with the Octopus Twitch channel, you can find me playing there each Wednesday from 5pm PST. Earlier this year I did a live-stream interview series called ‘Outside The Box’ which was focused on highlighting women in the dance music scene. 

Presuambly you have a lot more time to spend in the studio at the moment. What are your favourite pieces of studio equipment right now? 

I’ve really been having loads of fun with my tb-03 lately and also I picked up a juno 106 last year that’s been really cool to delve into. My moog sub37 is a trusty standby for some crazy bass stabs and basslines. 

Plugin wise I’ve really been into Omnisphere lately. 

Who or what were your biggest musical influences growing up?

I was pretty into classical music when I was really young, I played piano for many years and classical music really spoke to me. Later on I was more into rock bands like Korn, Slipknot and the likes, and also some kind of goth bands like Siouxsie & The Banshees and I’d say Moby was one of my first electronic influences.

Top 5 favourite records you love to listen to at home right now?

I listen to such an array of music all the time, I like to listen to a lot of different stuff in my downtime when I’m not in the studio in order to keep inspired. But my top techno jams I’ve been listening to lately are some total classics + a couple new ones!

1. Extrawelt – Murder Ballet

2. Woo York – Discovery

3. Juheun – Spacetime (Black Asteroid Remix)

4. Miss Kittin – Wash n Dry

5. Sian – Camouflage (Lee Van Dowski Remix)

What do you have coming up over the rest of the year? Any new projects or releases you can tell us about?

I’ve got a couple EP’s with some new originals scheduled for release on Octopus later this year and also some exciting real life events to announce soon. Excited to get back to playing for everyone out there, even though streaming is an awesome way to connect with everyone, nothing beats vibing out with a dance floor sharing the music together. 

Any final words for our WOTN readers?

Sending all the best vibes out there to everyone for an awesome 2021 and I hope to see some of you at some events this year or during some live-stream sets!! 

Dusty Kid & Marascia – WIWY (Michelle Sparks Remix) is out now via Octopus Recordings