Interview by Scott Preston
Tori Sparks calls Nashville home, but spends most of her time on the road in the U.S. and Europe. Called “a knockout” by the Village Voice, her dynamic live show is equal parts soulful singing and zany stand-up-style humor. Tori’s latest album Under This Yellow Sun was co-produced with indie rock veteran David Henry (R.E.M., Ben Folds, Josh Rouse, Widespread Panic, Cowboy Junkies) , and features players such as Steve Bowman of Counting Crows, Aaron Sands of Jars of Clay, John Deaderick (Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams), and Pat Buchanan (Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dixie Chicks).
Under This Yellow Sun is the first release under the auspices of Tori’s own record label (Glass Mountain Records) and publishing company (Hand Over Foot Publishing). It has been praised by Relix, Harp, Maverick, Skope, The Nashville Music Guide, XM Radio, and others. After breaking the Top 100 on the RIYL Weighted College Charts, the album was immediately licensed by MTV, Lifetime, and the Oxygen Network for use in their 2008 television seasons. A subsequent feature by XM Radio Unsigned prompted Universal Music France to contact Sparks, has toured in France and other parts of Europe. Universal included Sparks’ single “Cold War” on their double-disc compilation, released internationally in March 2008, which has sold 25,000+ copies to date."Cold War" is also featured on the Paste Magazine New Music Sampler released in June 2008. (from myspace.com/torisparks)
Cincy Groove: How did you recent show at Sitwell's here in Cincinnati go?
Tori Sparks: I really enjoyed playing there because its kind of an informal setting. The people there are really sweet and its a nice change from all those smokey clubs that I play at sometimes.
Cincy Groove: Do you handle all of the day to day operations of your career yourself?
Tori Sparks: Yes I do, I was with a label, but it didn't really work out because they said they were an all country label and wanted to expand into areas that wasn't country. I think it was some kind of story they told people so they would sign with them. They just weren't very honest people, so ultimately it worked out quite well to go out on my own. It took a while to get out of that situation but now I have complete control over what I am doing. Although its a lot of work and can be difficult, driving to gigs, checking emails, and doing interviews. But at least you know that things are being done the way you want them to get done.
Cincy Groove: Do you mostly do solo gigs?
Tori Sparks: Yes most of the time. I have this really great band that plays with me in Nashville when I have shows there. I would love to take them on the road, its just very difficult to be able to afford to pay a full band on the road. Basically I have to convince these rock and roll clubs that I'm not going to put on a sleepy show because I'm just one girl.
Cincy Groove: Who are some of your influences?
Tori Sparks: There are so many! I think whatever I'm listening to at the time influences what I'm writing. Here are some longtime favorites, though... Tom Waits, U2, Martin Sexton, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Billy Bragg, Amos Lee, Bill Withers, Damien Rice, Patty Griffin, Radiohead, Regina Spektor, The Beatles, The Boss (mainly just Nebraska), Ben Folds, Chris Isaak, Feist, David Bowie, Cecilia the Band, David Gray, Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, Ray Charles, Ryan Adams, Nirvana, the White Stripes, Iron and Wine, Wilco, any and all blues, local bands, people who like local bands. And Mitch Hedberg.
Read the full interview here