Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Tori Sparks

I have a very special guest with us here today. This lady comes from Nashville, Tennessee and has slowly been making a name for herself in the music industry. She brings to the stage an incredible understating of talent from her vocal range to her skills on a guitar and to top it all off she is beautiful to look at. A talent like this does not come around very often. Making her way across the country playing shows and telling stories, she has taken the time to sit and talk with us. It my pleasure to introduce to you Tori Sparks.

What is your first memory of the guitar?

Probably my first guitar lesson. I couldn’t do the G or the D chord to save my life, but the teacher said I had the best form on an A chord he’d seen. Maybe my hand is deformed, who knows.

How long have you been playing?

Since I was about 13. I took lessons briefly and then have been self-taught since. I studied classical in college for a little while before dropping the program after it started interfering with my ability to tour.

Do you have a job outside of music?

No. It’s my full time job-hobby-masochistic fun.

Staying single out there on the road?

No comment.

Where are you originally from?

My family is from the South side of Chicago, but I mostly grew up in Florida. I lived in Atlanta and Raleigh, then Sarasota, then Tallahassee in college.

Let’s say that you are offered a $250,000 record deal but it is someone else’s lyrics and it is a rap album. Do you do it?

No. I don’t think I’d trust the man offering it to me, he’s obviously not paying attention!

Do you write all of your own lyrics?


Have you ever written with anyone else?

I don’t co write as a rule. I’ve helped people finish songs for their own album projects on occasion, such as the song “Blackbird” on Caroline Brewer’s album “A Me-Shaped Hole.”

Where do you get inspiration for a new song?

Who knows! Books, movies, conversations, dreams, thinking too much. It comes from all over. Most of the best ideas never get finished, unfortunately.

What is the largest crowd that you have played for?

Probably 15,000 people at Bele Chere in Asheville last year. That was fun, a big outdoors show.

The smallest?

My mom and one homeless lady at a sandwich shop in Florida when I was 18.

What was it like playing Austin during SXSW and RedGorilla MusicFest?

Playing in Austin is great, especially around that time of year. Your whole audience is friends, other musicians, hardcore music fans, and “important” folks in the biz, so it’s like playing a set on steroids. Every note goes further by default.

How did you get an opportunity like that?

Through Brian Waymire of Dreamscapers. He’s a great guy.

So you must be a hippie huh since you used the side door? (Laughs)

This is true. I shower daily, though.

Tell me about the rest of your band.

On the upcoming new album “The Scorpion in the Story,” I’m lucky to have worked with some fabulous players such as Viktor Krauss, Will Kimbrough, Steve Bowman, David Henry, Fats Kaplin, others. Live, the cast of characters varies. Some of the aforementioned guys, as well as Brook Sutton, Brian Reed, and one of my best friends Matthew Burgess. All these gentlemen are in demand, so depending on what kind of show it is, I’ll call certain guys for certain shows. Matthew, who is a percussionist, and I do a lot of duo shows too, and I play solo quite often. I love playing with the band, though.

I hear you have played Indianapolis before. Where have you played?

At Birdy’s, and the Slippery Noodle, and another place I can’t recall.

What were your thoughts on the Slippery Noodle?

I loved it. It’s a fun room. There’s a long story behind that gig, but that’s for another day. I’d like to play there again in the future. I still wear the tee shirt they gave me. It’s true.

Are you excited to be coming back to town?

Yes! Rick Sparks, no relation, is hosting a fantastic house concert, and I can’t wait.

Who did all your photography?

Wayne Hall. He’s a stellar human being and a very talented director, videographer, and photographer. He’s done all of my music videos and has done some behind-the-scenes work for Jewel, Jack Ingram, Danielle Peck, others. He’s always willing to try out my ridiculous crazy ideas.

Ever played overseas?

In England, Ireland, and France. Hopefully this year I’ll have time to go back!

If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you go?

New York City, without a doubt. Then when I’m old, a little island in Greece or a tiny cabin on a mountain somewhere.

What are your thoughts on all of this social media surrounding us like Twitter MySpace, and Facebook?

OK, so the secret is out now. I hate it all. I spend all my time online, I wish I didn’t have to. The part that I dislike is that I have to spend so much time updating the numerous websites such as those mentioned above. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was only one to keep up with! That being said, it’s extremely helpful when it comes to booking, and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to connect with fans and friends.

Let’s get a pizza. What toppings?

Ice cream and jelly beans. No really, it’s good. I can tell you don’t believe me. Fine, grilled chicken, mozzarella, pine nuts, fire roasted peppers, sage and garlic.

What was the last movie you saw?

Donnie Brasco.

Did you like it?

Yep. Yay Pacino and Depp.

Ever shared the stage with someone famous?

Yes. Chuck Leavell (piano player for the Rolling Stones), John Lombardo (10,000 Maniacs), Charmaine Neville, Monte Montgomery, a few others. I was supposed to do a show with Shawn Mullins this month, but we’re working on rescheduling.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still doing music, of course. Lots of touring and by then hopefully living in New York. I meant it, I’ll be living there eventually. I’ll just rent a refrigerator box in a nice back alley.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

I suppose it depends on who is remembering me. My favorite artists are always the ones who do their ow
n thing, and maintain their professional, personal, and artistic integrity while becoming as successful as they can. I’ll probably be remembered for the hair and the big leather boots.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

Serendipitous. It’s a great word. And, I have a new album coming out on June 23rd and preorders available on right now. In the meantime, I’ll be playing at the University of Cincinnati on the 16th, and will be back later in the year. I love this city!