Charlie Sparks is one of the vanguards of the new generation of techno. Emerging as the poster boy of the UK’s thriving hard techno and hard dance scene, he has become one of the most in-demand names, known for his full-throttle and multi-faceted approach to playing this breakneck style of dance music.

The emergence of hard techno, punishingly harsh & rapid club sounds, and hard dance has been one of the most important changes in the dance music scene in recent years. The hard-edged and full-tilted approach to techno draws inspiration from a variety of 90s and early 2000s scenes, including German hard techno, Netherlands gabber influences, flashes of UK hardcore, and much more, but the sounds capture the high-octane and vigorous voice of a generation that was somewhat left behind during pandemic times. This red-blooded approach to the rave scene provides an outlet for those who need to let loose, and the new generation of DJs is soundtracking the movement, with Charlie Sparks leading the charge.

The name Charlie Sparks seems to evoke a feeling of energy, a spark of energy, a rush of excitement and relentless movement. The UK DJ and producer’s name commands authority and his presence in the booth commands attention, his formidable performances have been capturing audiences across the globe and making him a highly sought-after artist. Sparks unique take on techno finds him interweaving a multitude of influences and nuances into a dynamic and hard-bitten techno package that oozes with UK influences. His music has found its way onto some of techno’s most lauded labels including NineTimesNine, Exhale, HEKATE and more. Sparks is also a resident of Manchester-based party, Teletech, a collective that has backed him from his early days and helped to carve the Sparks name into what it is now.

We caught up with Charlie Sparks to talk about his influences, favourite parties, tour life, his new label ELEKTRA and more.

What was your first introduction to dance music?

It was my first time at fabric in London when I just turned 18 and spent the whole night on my own just exploring a ‘rave’ experience for the first time.

When did you first begin to think you could make a career as a DJ and producer?

It was during my final year in Architecture studies, that my passion grew stronger than my degree and I decided that I would become a DJ. First I had to finish my course, and then I focused everything on music. I knew I was going to make it the day it changed from a hobby to my passion.

You were making a name for yourself in the techno scene before COVID, but you really broke through in the post-COVID dance music scene; what do you think contributed to your success?

I think it was mainly due to my releases over the lockdown. I decided while there were no clubs to focus on what I could add to the scene was making music to a professional level and creating my own sound that people could follow.

Your touring schedule is pretty hectic right now, how’s life on the road?

Haha yeah, I can agree with that! It’s actually a lot more hectic now but it’s a lot easier to go through as I now have an amazing tour manager with me, Beatrice Vasile. It’s really important to have someone you can trust next to you when your schedule is like this otherwise you will burn out, I know from personal experience.

As someone who has been super consistent in releasing music and has a pretty impressive backlog of music, how have you found balancing studio time with tour life?

Honestly, it was impossible the first year I started touring professionally. It took me about 1 year to even open my DAW again to start producing. However, the time away has been very positive as I came back with a fresh mind and a new look at the sound that I am sharing with the world through my music.

How are you keeping your sets fresh while travelling so much?

I really do try to find new music for when I return to a country again. Mostly through artists, I know that always have the vibe I am looking for. I always go through promos sent to me which helps me keep my music fresh whilst also helping producers get their music heard to the world.

Your music has a real UK feel to it, you blend elements of rave, bassline, and hardcore into hard-edged techno. Is this multi-dimensional approach to music production important to you?

For me, yes it’s super important, music is so good that I think it should not be kept to one genre. There are so many great genres and sounds, why not mix them?

Congratulations on your inaugural release on your label, ELEKTRA; why did you forge your new label now?

I always wanted to since the start but I think now is the right time. I wanted to create a community and family-like place where I could really show my emotions through productions and who I really am as an artist and person.

You’re a resident with Teletech, can you tell us how that relationship formed?

They booked me as a warm-up DJ for SPFDJ for my first show as my name was not so big at the time and from there I met Tom and Anton and just felt like we had a special connection of new heads in the techno scene pushing for the top and over time we started meeting at shows other than the ones we were booked for and created a great relationship within and outside of the industry. We both have the same mindset of achieving the top level within the industry and really pushing what we believe through our platforms.

You’ve become a regular at Edinburgh’s Terminal V, what’s the energy like at that party?

It’s amazing, honestly, I have known these events since the start and to play for them regularly is such a pleasure. The team and energy within Terminal V are at such a high level. It’s a show I’m always looking forward to.

You’re playing at Terminal V’s first iteration in Croatia; how do you approach sun-soaked outdoor sets versus darker indoor ones?

I always approach a set with the mindset of ‘let’s just have as much fun as possible’ so this time it’s just how much fun in the sun can we have haha!

Do you have any final words of wisdom for rising DJs and producers?

The best advice I can give is to be yourself and enjoy the process of what you love doing, be it producing or djing, remember why you’re doing it and one thing that won’t let you down is the work you put in. Whatever you put in, you will get out! So good luck enjoy the process and work for it, it’s worth it trust me 

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