Sonic Boom Girl- Spark Interview.

Spark- Interview 2010- The Von Pip Musical Express

“Revolving” By Spark.

Free Download -‘Revolving Warrior One Remix.’


BOOM!  Welcome to the world of Jess Morgan, aka Spark.  With hair as black as a raven’s wing, pale, almost luminous alabaster skin and blood red lips, Spark looks set to take the pop world by storm.  After the limited seven inch single release of Shut Out The Moon in July,  her stunning début single for 679 Recordings , ‘Revolving’ is about to be unleashed.  It’s a fantastic  slice of  hypnotic left-field  electro-pop which mixes the soul-influenced funk  of Cameo’s ‘Word Up’ with the faux-goth pop sensibility of  Strawberry Switch Blade.  Throw in a touch of the Kate Bush style theatrics, add a dash of Alison Goldfrapp and Spark looks very much like a pop sensation in waiting.

Spark wrote her first song when she was just twelve years old but it wasn’t until she performed  the Kate Bush classic ‘Wuthering Heights at a school show that she experienced her own particular Boo Radley moment of musical clarity.  Thus inspired and armed with a new sense of purpose she adjusted her style accordingly to reflect her new influences.  After playing  just one solo gig  fate intervened, the stars aligned and she nabbed a spot on tour with Marina & The Diamonds,  a record deal soon followed.  I managed to catch the end of her set on  Marina’s Family Jewels tour and she positivity sparkled, leaving many of us in no doubt that we had just borne witness to the emergence of a bright new talent, one who was definitely going to make her mark on Planet Pop, it was just a question of when, not if.

She’s also a girl who’s enthusiasm is undoubtedly infectious but be warned, she doesn’t suffer fools.  Ask her about any record label restyle or musical  finesseing and she will most likely fix you with an intense dark gaze and reply “I’m not something you can construct. Fact.” At which point you should laugh nervously and then cleverly distract her by pointing over her shoulder whilst saying something like ‘ooh look a puppy’ before hastily moving on to another question !

If you follow Spark on twitter you’ll no doubt notice that she is prone to indiscriminately peppering many of her ‘tweets’ with the word  “boom,” indeed she implores her fans to “bring their boom” along to her gigs.  I’m not quite sure what this actually means or indeed if  it’s legal,  but it seems to be an affirmation of positive emotions which is no bad thing.  However, one fears if this behaviour goes unchecked it may provide a stumbling block to one day conquering America;  bellowing ‘BOOM’ will most likely not endear you to homeland security, in fact it could impede or least severely delay admission onto  U.S. soil and the last thing I’d want to see is Spark heading for Cuba in an unfeasibly orange jump suit. 😉

As well as the release of ‘Revolving’ Spark is preparing for her début album, due out early next year, her only problem at present appears to be narrowing down exactly songs will be  included on the album , “I have too many songs, I need to stop writing” she says. Finding a fantastic new talent like Spark is one the myriad of reasons why people like my good-self get so excited about music and feel a compulsion to share our enthusiasm via a blog.  Bloggers still believe that, that despite what the charts may tell you, great music from every genre is still being made, you just have to seek it out.  And so prior to world domination I had a chat with Spark and desperately hoped she didn’t ask if I’d remembered to bring my ‘boom!’


VP: Hello there, you release your music under the name Spark, what was it about that particular nom de plume that appealed?

SPARK:  Haha, well my real middle name is Sparkle. Birth certificate, passport and all that jazz! So when it came to being called something else, instead of being Sparkle- because that sounds like I’m 8 and like glitter.. Spark it was!

VP: You’re release your first proper single with 679 Recordings the ruddy marvellous ‘Revolving’. How does an artist decide on the singles? Do you have discussions with the label; do they tell you what they’d like to put out, how does it work?

SPARK: They’re decisions that my manager and I make together. When I first put these songs on myspace and blogs started to write about me and I started to get feedback, Shut Out The Moon seemed to be the one getting the most attention, so it felt right for us to release that first. Revolving is very different to SOTM, it has a different sort of sound and feel and so we thought it would be a good idea to put that out next to show that difference, another dimension.

VP:  So what exactly is  ‘Revolving’ all about then ?

SPARK: ‘Revolving’ is about control. It’s about being controlled, losing control and trying to regain it and also has elements of being taken advantage of- in any way that could be done. It tells the story of a girl, the metaphor being a wind-up doll. It goes on a journey with her, starting off with asking to be controlled, needing it and shows a vulnerable girl needing what could be described as love, or affection or anything like that- ‘Just turn me round, wind me up and make me work again, take out my heart, wind it up and make it beat again..’ and then talks about the trickery of that, instead of being controlled in a loving, caring way it becomes the opposite, saying the world should be ready for her ‘This wind up doll hands behind my back, hiding what I’m using for the attack, get yourself ready I’m back…’ and ‘You won’t know I’m under control, someone else tells me where to go, pushing my buttons and squeezing my soul, following directions I don’t know..’ – It’s about trust being broken, pressures of the people we choose to surround ourselves with and the results of doing that, the results of giving yourself away and allowing someone else that control over you.

It’s actually pretty deep and has a big underlying meaning, for me at least. Although, these are things that I think of and things that I wrote, I always want and like to leave my songs open for interpretation. This song may mean something completely different to someone else, and that’s what it’s there for. I feel like once you write a song and put it out for people to hear, it becomes their song as well and that entitles them (or us, because I do this as well) to have their own opinions on what songs mean to them as individuals, picking out different parts of the songs because certain words mean certain things, while others don’t. That’s how it works. But if you just don’t get it at all, maybe it could make more sense understanding the things going through my head when I wrote it! And that is all the above!

VP:  Marina and the Diamonds is big fan of your work, you also toured with her, how did she find out about you and how did you enjoy the tour?

SPARK: Marina was introduced to me and my music by my manager only a matter of months ago, and after she had a listen to the songs on my myspace she asked if I was around in May to support her on her tour. It was as unplanned and spontaneous as that! It happened really fast and was only decided about 2 weeks before tour started- if that?! The tour itself was incredible. It still feels like I dreamt it. Marina is amazing. She has something seriously special and it was an absolute honour to support her, there are so many things I’ve taken with me from the whole experience and Marina’s support is priceless. Loved it! (Understatement!)

VP:  When I was 18, before the war, the thought of public performances terrified me; luckily I had absolutely no talent. How do you explain the desire to want to go out and perform songs in front of an audience?

SPARK: Haha! Well I don’t really have an explanation. There was never a time in my life that I said to myself, or to anyone else ‘Hmmm, I think I want to sing!’ Or ‘I want to perform’ or any of that. It literally has been as natural as learning to walk or talk. I never questioned it, I just ran with it- and now here we are!

VP:  People have compared you to everybody from Toyah to Kate Bush; do you find comparisons annoying, lazy, or flattering?

SPARK: People will always make comparisons. It’s a way of people being able to make sense of something new. That’s why we’re a society that relies on genres, even though most artists don’t like putting themselves or their music in categories or boxes. But it helps people make sense of it all, and that’s okay. Comparisons can work in both good and bad ways. Some I think are lazy, definitely. I understand the need for people to compare, so I don’t like to call it annoying, although sometimes I don’t agree with what’s been said. Most of the time I find it flattering though. Being compared to Kate Bush, Toyah and all the others is an honour! They’re incredible, no complaints from me! Even when I don’t see it myself, I’ve been compared to amazing, strong, successful women and that can’t be anything but flattering. Could definitely be worse!

VP:  So we’ve established your views on comparisons, but how would you describe your music to somebody who’s yet to hear your work?

SPARK: I’d say edgy pop. I guess its pop music! But slightly left field possibly, because it’s not bubblegum- it’s deep and personal. Each song I write has a different part of me in it and has been written because I have something I want to write about, never because I want to write a pop song. But for the sake of the public! It’s probably best categorized as pop music. So pop music with a personal, edgy twist. Or I’m sure it can also go under so many other categories! It’s, as always, open for interpretation for whatever makes it easier for people to understand.

VP:  How do you go about song writing, do ideas just pop into your head, or do you sit down and think ‘today is a good day to write a new song’?

SPARK: It varies. Lyrical ideas pop into my head because of situations I find myself in, others in, relationships I have, relationships I see, people I have something to write about. I take those literal things and try and make something poetic, and I let my imagination run with it. I never try and force a song out, if it’s not working- it’s for a reason. But when it’s working I can feel it in the pit of my tummy and that is one of the best feelings ever. The same I get on stage. When I start writing I don’t usually stop until the song is done, which always tends to be really fast, because I see my songs as moments in time. I was feeling a certain way, then, and wrote a song that in some way portrays that. And I don’t go back and try and change them to get a hook or a killer chorus because like I said before it’s not about writing a hit or a great pop song, it’s so much more personal and real than that, whether that results in a banger or not!

VP:  So  you were born in my hometown, Liverpool, but then moved to London. Can we claim you as a scouser when you’re hugely successful please?

SPARK: Haha! Technically, yes! I was born in Fazakerly! My mum and her whole family are from Liverpool, but I’ve lived in London my entire life and I am a London gal, BUT I support Liverpool FC though! So definitely a whole load of scouse in me!

VP:  Did you give your image a lot of consideration or is this pretty much you? You’ve said on your blog “If people think I’ve been manipulated or changed or altered or constructed or then they mustn’t have really known me in the first place!”

SPARK: I’m afraid this is 100%, without a doubt, most definitely me. The good and the bad! My ‘image’ isn’t and wasn’t ever thought out. I obviously give consideration to it; a chick needs to look presentable! But I rock what I want! It is definitely true that I’ve never been and never will be manipulated or altered or constructed. That blog was written in defence of the people I have chosen to work with. I rock with the best! It’s insulting for them, and of course for me, when it’s assumed that they would change or attempt to change me. It’s an impossible task! I’m too opinionated and set in my ways for that! Although obviously I’m growing and developing all the time. But I know what I like and I know what I don’t and just as I wouldn’t let that slip or forget that, the people I work with would never try and change it, or me. Those assumptions are lazy! Again though, I understand how lazy assumptions can be made when there is manufactured pop and all of that going on, but it was important for me to put my feelings on that out there when I wrote it (ages ago?!). I’ll give the facts and my own opinions and then people can and will judge and decide from that. But honesty is the best policy; I was honestly frustrated at those assumptions and comments so threw my facts and opinions out there for people to read. That’s all a gal can do!

Spark -Interview-The Von Pip Musical Express 2010







‘Revolving’ By Spark


Something For The Weekend -W/e 28/05/2010

This week Marina And The Diamonds Free Mp3, Ash release infamous “Slashed” footage, Scroobius Pip, Sound Of Guns,  Johnny Flynn, Bridezilla, Emii.



Marina & The Diamonds

A short version this week as I’m afraid playing out on a school night has left me a bit knackered. The reason being was Marina And The Diamonds show and here’s her awesome version from that very show of “Starstruckk” . Marina is  giving away a live version of  this track from her official website.  To download a live version of the track, go to her official website HERE

She’s also announced release of new single “Oh No” on July 26th through 679.

Recorded last year in LA with recent Ivor Novello award winner, Greg Kurstin, “Oh No” was the final track completed for her debut album, but has already become a firm fan favourite. The video will be directed by Kinga Burza, who last worked with Marina on her “Hollywood” video and the single package will feature remixes by Grum, Jaymo and Andy George, Steve Pitron and Max Sanna as well as Active Child. She has also announced she’s supporting Goldfrapp at the Itunes festival and will be appearing in the John Peel tent at Glastonbury.


Ash –Binary

Finally some footage from Ash’s never before released self made horror movie, “Slashed”, written by our old chum Jed Shepherd and featuring the likes of Chris Martin, Dave Grohl, Neil Hannon, Moby and Charlotte Hatherley


Sound Of Guns

Sound of Guns present the blistering video for their latest single ‘Architects’

‘Architects’ is taken from the band’s forthcoming debut album ‘What Came From Fire’, to be released on the 28th June through Distiller Records

‘Architects’ will be released on 7″ and download on the 21st June.


Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip

Awesome new video for the duo’s awesome  new single Sick Tonight which  out on May 31st as a double A-side with Great Britain.

Fusing Pips laser like social commentary with Dans slamming beats, ‘Sick Tonight’ is another slice of hypnotic urban poetry which has plenty to say and gets your feet heading firmly in the direction of  the dancefloor!

There’s also a free download available, Hyetal remix of Great Britain, below


Johnny Flynn

Johnny Flynn has made a five track sampler of his forthcoming album ‘Been Listening’ available It . features standout tracks from the album including ‘The Water’ (with Laura Marling), ‘Barnacled Warship’, ‘Churlish May’, ‘Been Listening’ and recent free download ‘Kentucky Pill’. Been Listening’ is released on the 7th June through Transgressive Records.



Straight from the heart of cool alt Australia comes the unconventional quintet Bridezilla. Comprising of the unusual collective Ms Pia May(Guitar), Ms Daisy Tulley(Voilin), Ms Millie Hall(Saxophone/Keyboard), Mr Josh Bush (Drums) and led by Ms Holiday Sidewinder (Vocals/Guitar) like a mesmerising dream. Drifting through the music with ultra cool carelessness, Bridezilla mix a sound, likening it to everything from Dirty Three’s instrumental explorations, to Cat Power’s country-noir and PJ Harvey’s darkened outsider-pop.  Here’s the video for “Western Front”



Move over Britney, there’s a new girl in town, who could well steal the pop crown from the Britsters fully restored noggin. Her name’s Emii and her debut Ep ‘Magic’ is imminent….



Marina And The Diamonds-The Family Jewels Review

Marina And The Diamonds-The Family Jewels Review

Picture  taken by Kasia Bobula on the set of the ‘Hollywood’ video shoot

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Marina And The Diamonds-The Family Jewels Review

Runner up in The BBC’s Sound of 2010 poll, Marina and the Diamonds puts her money where the hype is and releases her much anticipated debut album ‘The Family Jewels’. The question is, does it cut the mustard, does it measure up, is it all that???The short answer is an unequivocal “YES!” But here’s the long version….

Marina And The Diamonds-The Family Jewels Review‘The Family Jewels’ really does exceed all expectations and heralds the arrival of an outstanding new talent, it’s an album that can be enjoyed on many different levels and should appeal right across the board from fashion conscious teens right through to middle-aged Kate Bush fans . Comparisons are of course lazy, but on this occasion seem quite justified because at times you may feel like you’re listening to Tori Amos’ street wise, sassy little sister. There are other musical reference points throughout the album, for example a discerning ear may well detect more than a hint of the vocal aerobics favoured by Regina Spector, or the theatrical, dramatic delivery of Amanda Palmer or even a pop-centric version of Siouxsie Sioux.  Despite such comparisons Marina has unleashed an album that is very different from what’s currently being produced by other artists in the sphere of ‘pop’. You have to say ‘hats off’ to Neon Gold and Marina And The Diamonds -tracklist679 Recordings Ltd for taking a chance on a singer many may have regarded as a little too ‘wacky’ and left field at a time when record labels rarely invest in anything that deviates from the traditional ‘safe pop’ template. ‘Family Jewels’ is a vibrant, angry, wry, joyous and at times scathingly sarcastic affair. But it also reveals a more reflective vulnerable side, as  weaved throughout the fabric of  what is, essentially a pop album , are songs imbued with an aching melancholy which display a raw honesty that is genuinely touching, no more so than on the magnificent ‘Numb’or the spine tingling ‘Rootless’. Whilst Marina may not quite be Simone De Beauvoir just yet, this is an intelligent album that tries to make sense of being a young female in 2010.  A world in which there has been a definite backslide into an ideology that seeks to enforce certain female stereotypes and sadly, a world where  raunch culture, idealised beauty and ‘hotness’ are seemingly regarded as the ultimate tools of female empowerment ( perversely often by females!). The purposefully heavily photoshopped album art work also provides an ironic nod to many of the ideas and themes that run throughout the course of the album.

The album kicks off in fine style with a new song ‘Are You Satisfied? and straight away any fears that a big label deal would somehow extinguish Marina’s fire are quickly laid to rest.  ‘Shampain’ gets a thorough reworking, replacing the slightly cheesy keyboard present on the early demos with a throbbing synth beat that snakes around Marinas vocals and turns an already good song into a pop beast. Lead single ‘Hollywood’ is probably the albums most mainstream offering and whilst it’s chart success has gleaned Marina a whole new army of fans, it’s also given credence to the theory that Marina may well be one of those artists who you either  “get” or are left wondering just what exactly all the fuss is about. Whilst ‘Hollywood’ is not Marina’s best track, it still boasts a killer chorus and is certainly more intelligent than your average chart single.  Love or hate it there’s no denying that in many ways ‘Hollywood’ is a brave pop song in terms of the subject matter. Bizarrely, it seems that a small minority of over sensitive miscreants have churlishly  misinterpreted ‘Hollywood’ as somehow being an attack on American values, however anybody with a modicum of intelligence will surely dismiss that accusation with the contempt it deserves. In reality ‘Hollywood’ addresses issues that Marina often touches on, both in her music and her blogging, such as our obsession with the emptiness of celebrity culture. Like many of us she is seduced and yet repelled by Hollywood’s plastic alternative reality, and deftly sums up her feelings as “Living in a movie scene/ Puking American dreams”

The boisterous, bouncing  ‘Girls’ w.a.g.s an accusatory musical finger at vapid female airheads who blindly follow fashions without engaging their brain and conform to a media (male) driven stereotype. However I’d question if ‘I think like a guy’ is necessarily the bench-mark of cerebral excellence? Elsewhere ‘Mowgli’s Road’ sounds as gleefully insane as ever (die-hard Diamonds will be pleased to hear that the slightly spooky clockwork intro is back) and ‘I am Not A Robot’ remains a sublime example of how intelligent, heartfelt pop should sound.

‘The Outsider’, another old favourite from Marinas early demos, could be  Kate Bush fronting the Pet Shop Boys in an alternative reality, although  you wonder if even they could come up with something this good!  One of Marinas oldest songs ‘Hermit the Frog’ which appeared on 2007’s homemade CD  ‘Mermaid versus Sailor ‘also makes the album cut, whilst another brand new tune ‘Oh No’ sees Marina warning ‘If you are not very careful/Your possessions will possess you’ and highlights her idiosyncratic, off the wall take on modern life.

It’s a great  album which has greater depth than some may associate with a genre as seemingly disposable as ‘pop’.  Strip away the pop gloss and production sparkle and there is sadness, anger, insecurity and contradiction. And maybe it’s the combination of  all these elements that make Marina stand out as a much more real, colourful and ultimately engaging  character than much of  the bland, unchallenging musical effluence that all too often clogs up the musical toilet known as ‘the charts’. ‘The Family Jewels’ proves she’s so much more than simply Kate Bush on acid.  One gripe though, no ‘This is L.A.’?   If this is the future of pop, then I’m already in my DeLorean with Marty and Doc as the futures bright, the futures Marina.- Hype? Not a chance.


Marina Interview here

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Marina And The Diamonds Live, Liverpool Masque, 13/12/2009

Marina And The Diamonds Live
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I generally get a little nervous before gigs. Excitement, anticipation and of course freshly laundered underpants all play a part in the pre gig ritual but prior to tonight’s gig I was extra jittery. I’ve been in the thrall of Marina and the Diamonds for the last 18 months or so and now finally I had the chance to catch her live, at a free gig as part of Liverpool music week. The anxiety I felt could probably be equated to the emotions a football fan must experience prior to a big game whereby you hope that your team puts in the performance you know they are capable thus affirming the faith you have in their talent. In retrospect there was absolutely no need to worry. Simply put, Marina produced the sort of life affirming set that merely served to confirm the buzz about this girl is 100% correct. I’ll say it again but if she doesn’t make it big in 2010 then I will eat my proverbial hat, dress up as Lady Ga-Ga and question the nation’s sanity.

Reviewing gigs can sometimes be a solitary affair, especially when half the city seemed to have transported itself over to the other side of town to Morrissey’s favourite venue, the Liverpool Arena in order to pay homage to popular George Formby tribute act, the Arctic Monkeys. I actually had a ticket but as soon as I heard Marina and the Diamonds were playing on the Set Listsame night it was a case of “forget the arena; I’m going to see Marina.” Funnily enough I met a couple of other fans who were at the gig solo, rendered friendless for the night by Mr Turner and his band of ragamuffins, but once you’re a “Diamond” (the term Marina uses for her fans and isn’t actually the name of her band) you’re not really alone as there is a very real shared bond and a sense of camaraderie amongst her fans. There’s a definite vibe amongst hard core “Diamonds” that you are all in this musical adventure together, that this is your girl on stage, the one you’ve seen blossom from myspace bedroom demo singer to fully fledged pop goddess … (or maybe that was the pre-gig double Jack Daniels kicking in?) Marina has often said how much her fans mean to her and some may be inclined to dismiss this as PR bullshit, full of the kind of empty sound bites we often hear from countless pop singers. However maybe the doubters would be given pause for thought had they witnessed Marina begging bouncers to allow one of her biggest fans into tonight’s venue over concerns about his age, she eventually secured his entrance by convincing said doormen with a major whopper that the young lad in question was her long lost Scouse cousin called Onslow! (His real name is Jack) Now, how many singers would go that far for one of their fans? You do get the feeling that Marina is very much the real deal.Marina And The Diamonds Live

Without wishing to cast myself in the role of Benny Hill it must be said that Marina is stunningly beautiful in the flesh and as she prowled the stage wearing killer heels and a figure hugging leather outfit the sound of young men’s knees buckling was almost palpable, whilst gentlemen of a certain vintage seemed to experience the onset of a full-on mid-life crisis!! Marina and her band had just played a sell out 1,000 capacity show in Dublin the night before so if playing a free gig in Liverpool on a wet and windy Friday night was a bit of a comedown it certainly didn’t show in terms of the effort and energy expended. Liverpool can be a strange city when it comes to gigs, it’s almost impossible to gauge which bands will draw a crowd and what sort of reception a performer will get. Tonight’s assembled crowd greeted Marina with the kind of cautious enthusiasm that says “well you’re not a Beatles tribute band so we’ll just have to just see how we get along, won’t we?” However by the time the acid tongued bouncing brilliance of the opening song “Girls” (think a literate version of a punked up Britney whose drink’s been spiked with vitriol) had finished she’d thawed even the frostiest of hearts and proceeded to produce one of the most entertaining, engaging and compelling performances I’ve seen for quite some time. Marina’s charisma, easy charm and ability to completely connect with the audience seemed so effortless and natural that you really did feel part of the show; it’s hard to believe that at one time she was petrified of performing in public.

Tonight’s set included a tune strongly rumoured to be the next single, ‘Hollywood Infected Your Brain,’ a stellar pop tune which could be the song that enables Marina to break through into the mainstream, whilst somewhat ironically it appears to be a critique of the very culture of celebrity she is on the cusp of. In many ways it encapsulates the paradox that is “Marina.” She may well tweet with the likes of salacious Hollywood rumour monger extraordinaire, Perez Hilton, on twitter, she is undoubtedly “obsessed with the mess that’s America” but “Hollywood” shows she’s also aware of the dark side of fame. She’s conscious of the fact that the limelight is also the firing line and you get a sense that should she achieve a certain level of prominence that she is acutely aware of it’s ugly destructive flip-side. Like many of us she seems fascinated and appalled by it in equal measure. But unlike many of us she has the ability to write a killer pop song on the subject!

An obvious highlight of Marina’s set is her tale of dysfunctional relationships and post-coital angst, the quite wonderful ‘Obsessions’ is a song designed to make ones heart simultaneously burst with both joy and sadness, such is the raw emotion, honesty and bitter-tinged sense of regret contained within. Further spine tingling moments included a slowed down keyboard only version of her current single ‘Mowgli’s Road,’ turning a tumultuous slice of “cuckoo-pop” into a rather sad yet beautiful lament whilst showcasing the uniqueness of her vocal style. When firm fan favourite and one of the songs of 2009, ‘I am Not A Robot’ is performed with such passion you can’t help but agree with the fan who said “this woman deserves to succeed,” because she really does. She has something new and innovative and dynamic to offer the pop world, something that she exudes herself and, unlike many pop wannabes she isn’t just going through the motions to attain success for its own sake.

“My true dream is to become successful for what I do naturally proving to people that you do not have to replicate other people’s popular qualities in order to become popular”

The set finishes with a triumphant second version of ‘Mowgli’s Road,’ this one the full on version ….and then….. she’s gone. A ten song set which was over way too quickly, but she proved beyond a doubt she was born to do this, is a unique talent and next year will surely see her make the breakthrough she richly deserves. She gave a staggering performance, as did I, as I weaved my home into the wet Liverpudlian night, quite intoxicated in every possible sense of the word! Balls out brilliant!

Marina on stage

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I wrote this review for . The original article can be viewed here