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LAist Interview: Clinton Sparks
Clinton Sparks smashing it up at Hard Rock Hotel's Body English every Saturday night
If you aren't familiar, Clinton Sparkshas rapidly risen from the basement of his mother's house in Boston to an elite DJ, producer and on-air personality. Recently, the host of the nationally syndicated Smashtime Radio and producer of numerous classic mixtapes like the first two volumes of the "We Got it 4 Cheap" series by The Clipse and The Re-Up Gang, has crossed over into cable television as the music correspondent for E!'s The Daily 10. A man on the go, criss-crossing the country from coast-to-coast to throw down some of the biggest parties in the country's top clubs, to producing beats for A-list artists to appearing on your television screen, Clinton took a little time to talk with LAist prior to boarding his flight from Las Vegas, where he hosts Daily 10 Smashtime Saturdays at Body English, to LA.
Spending time in LA, what do you think is the biggest difference between here and the East Coast? Is there anything you have you had trouble adjusting to?
The East coast is more of an in your face, dog eat dog world. Out here it might be like that but at least it's done behind your back. Over here people get out of work at 5, and they leave and go home at 5. On the East Coast, we work until 11 and go out to eat and keep on working even while we are out to eat. Obviously there are some other big differences, but I wouldn't say that I have needed to adjust. I'm a pretty laid back guy so I just go with whatever.
Where do you enjoy going while you are here?
I frequent Winstons, I like to go there with a bunch of friends. My apartment is in Santa Monica, I spend a lot of time in there producing beats. I travel with my studio, I guess you can say. I am always working on that regardless of where I am. Every now and then, though, I will head out to the Burke Williams and get a massage.
What are your thoughts on the LA hip hop scene? LA hip hop radio?
It's pretty much like everywhere else. There are a lot of talented people out here who are putting out some great music and there is also a fair share of guys who don’t have a grip on reality and have no idea that they are complete garbage. But that’s everywhere. That’s everywhere I go to. In any city across the globe, you will run into some guy who hands you his CD and says this is the best shit you've ever heard. There are some great DJs out here who support the local acts. I think Felli Fel does a great job of supporting the local acts. Of course, people will disagree with that but those are the same people who are pissed because he isn't playing their shit.
Do you DJ much out here?
Out here in LA, I mostly just DJ events. I am in talks with doing a couple of residences, but nothing is locked in so I can't really talk about that, right now. Previously, I have done parties at Les Deux, I have done Winstons to name a few.
What do you think has been the secret to your success?
Patience is one of them, definitely. I think the most important thing though, is knowing how to walk the fine line between being persistant and being aggravating. You have to know how much you need to follow up on something to get someone to pay attention to you without pissing them off to the point that they will never work with you.
Did you ever think you’d be on E!? How did the Daily 10 come about?
No, I never in a million years did I think it was going to happen. I came up as hip hop DJ. I have hosted things with MTV, MuchMusic and a lot of other stuff, but for the most part everything I have done on TV has been urban. So it was really surprising to get the call to do something like this. When I get the call, it took about five minutes for me to process. I said, E!? The E! channel? Like the entertainment channel with Talk Soup? I really didn’t know what to expect. I came out to LA and auditioned for the show, but I didn't really know what was going on. The audition was just me talking to Sal on camera and I knocked it out. One take. When it was over, everyone said "See you next week." I thought, "Really? Just like that. I got this."
What is life in the E! building like?
I am not there everyday. But I have to say, that these are the best people I have ever worked around. I'm sure people who are there everyday may not think that. But for me, personally, I think everyone is super cool. Everyone has made me feel like I was part of the team, right away.
Do you ever run into fellow E! Channel star Kim Kardashian? You made the soundtrack to her sextape, I would think that interaction might be a little awkward.
I ran into her at Sundance. We were hanging out and I was trying to convince her that we should album together. She wasn't really sure about it, I said let's just go to the studio and do a couple tracks and if it doesn't sound good we can just throw them away but if they're good we can keep at it. I don't know if she knows about the soundtrack. It never really hit the street. I made a gametime decision to not put it out and suggested to Ray J I don't want to put it out because I'm new in town and I don't want to ruffle feathers then Ray J said "yeah your right." Ray J has since put that stuff out with other DJs.
What's the vibe at Body English been like?
Saturday nights in Vegas is becoming Body English. I'm playing a little Hip hop mixed with some rock. We're bringing in a mixed crowd. The crowd is growing rapidly and this is during the slow season. Rehab opens up soon, and I will be DJing there too. That will help spread the word about Body English on Saturdays. I have no question in my mind that it will be the party Saturday nights. Hard Rock has done a great job supporting it, they've got billboards of me in Vegas.
You mentioned on your blog that you are looking forward to Felli Fel’s new album, what other albums are looking forward to?
Oh you read the blog? So I guess, it's good that I do the blog. I wasn't sure about the blog when I started it but I have received some good responses from it so far. Along with the blog I am going to start an online video show too, just showing off some of the cool things that I get to do. As far as albums go, I am looking forward to Weezy's album. Whenever he ends up dropping one. I hear Teddy Riley has album coming out, he's the reason why I got into producing. I am looking forward to hearing some of the albums I recently worked on, like Ludacris and Beyonce.
While you are here in LA, are there any plans on doing comedy on an open mic? On your blog you said, you have wanted to do comedy because you feel you have the material but you lack the ballage to do so.
Wow, you really did read my blog. I do plan on doing an open mic. I make comedians laugh. I have friends who are comedians who will say "you're funnier than the guys we work with" and "If you’re not going to use that joke, I will." I am a super nervous shy dude. It may not show, but I am actually shy. I get wicked butterflies. Before I do a set as a DJ, something I have done for a while I still need a minute to just breathe. I know it's like every other field and you've got to pay your dues before you become noticed and known. I don’t know if I have the time to put that effort into it. But I do want to do it once to say I did it.
I think the same thing goes for acting. A lot of people come out here and get the acting bug. I think I have that right now. I just want to do some auditions, get in the room and see if I've got it or not. If not, I am happy with not trying it again. But I want to see if I've got it. I think I live my life like a movie, my wife, who I've known since I was in 7th grade always says I am the star of my own movie.