Projecting a forward-leaning sound infused with deep musicality and raw, stripped-back minimalism, Michelle Sparks’s productions display a hyper-focused and extraordinarily skilled artist, intent on pushing the envelope. Recognised across the industry for her uniquely atmospheric and futuristic sonic palate, her ability to synergize complex textures with underground rave aesthetics is second to none, as she continues to explore the limitless boundaries of techno with her trademark minimal grooves and dark, stirring melodies. Following the critically acclaimed release of her latest hit record ‘Yakuza’ on Octopus Warehouse Series, we caught up with the Phoenix-based talent to find out more. Hey Michelle, thanks so much for speaking to me today. Can you start by telling us a little about your musical experience and background? Where did you grow up and how did you get into music? Hi, thanks for having me! I’ve been into music since I can remember. When I was younger I was first inspired by my grandpa who was a jazz pianist and I began taking piano lessons when I was about 8 years old. From there I joined band in middle & high school where I started playing the flute and the harp. Living in NYC during college I went to my first underground rave/warehouse party and started getting into electronic music and started DJing shortly after that. Now to the present, where are you currently based and what have you been up to recently? Currently I’m based in Phoenix, Arizona and over the last 10 or so years I’ve been releasing music on Raise Recordings & most recently Octopus Recordings & Octopus Warehouse Series. I’ve also been hosting underground events under the event brand ‘Circuit’ in Arizona with Juheun who is also based out of Phoenix and also happens to be one of my label mates on Octopus Recordings. How is your sound evolving? What artists do you enjoy mixing and listening to right now? I think as a DJ our sounds should be ever evolving. As a producer my sound generally has a good amount of groove to it and it’s a stripped back, modern, minimal techno vibe. I am always on the hunt for music that you can’t help but tap your feet to but that is fresh, forward thinking & hypnotic. I’ve been loving what Simina Grigoriu, Matrixxman, Deas, Juheun, Xander & Aardy lately and always seem to have their tracks in my sets. What can you tell us about your last release, Yakuza? Well, I wrote it during the summer last year when It was still covid lockdown time & I was daydreaming about heading to one of my favorite cities, Tokyo. The tune is a stripped back warehouse stomper with a heavy acid infused vibe throughout.
Do you think your sound has changed a lot in recent years? I think my sound evolves, but doesn’t lose it’s main underlying influence. I always lean towards a stripped back minimal feel for my music, but sometimes I make tracks that are a bit heavier or melodic, but at the core there’s always a solid groove & energetic bassline.
Do you feel more comfortable playing with more experimental sounds now than you did when you started out? Definitely as I evolve as a producer I feel a need to step outside my comfort zone of what “works” and to push the envelope by experimenting more. I love sound design and crafting other-worldly sounds and textures so getting weird & experimenting comes pretty naturally. We all know that the digital revolution has affected sales, but has it affected creativity in your opinion? I think the digital revolution has maybe allowed people to be more creative in a way. By allowing us to do things easier, quicker and more efficiently than before, we have more time freed up from mundane tasks of producing to spend being creative. But on the flip side, when we have too many machines, synths etc at our disposal sometimes creativity can be lost by simply too MANY things. I think it’s a double edged sword and you’ve really got to find the right balance in order to let creativity shine. Looking forwards, can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? I’ve been in the studio non stop the last several months and I’m excited to share the new music I’ve got coming out but can’t quite spill the secrets yet. Please stay tuned to my socials for updates! :) Anything else you’d like to add before we finish? Thanks for having me for the interview, Wishing everyone a wonderful 2022 ahead!