September 12th, 2008 5:33 pm | by NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns, Columns

Hang the DJ: Sparker Lewis

sparker This week Sparker Lewis—Sandpeople's DJ in residence—steps up to the Hang the DJ plate. He casts a comparison to everyone's favorite hidden stripe wearer Waldo (from the "Where's Waldo" book series) when it comes to his abundance of engagements, and uses a cast of celebrities to humorously illustrate his ideal crowd at such functions. In the game for about 12 years, Saprker Lewis takes the time to shed light on the vinyl versus laptop debate with some great analogies in relation to the utilization of each tool.

How did you decide on your DJ name? What's your real name?
Man... Honestly, it involved using paint, and for that reason I probably shouldn't give you my real name.

As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this" - how often do you encounter this?
Some people say hip-hop is dead, but maybe it's really just dancing shoes. I know the Portland breakers hella put it down. I honestly think it's Akira Yamaoka and his Che inspired dance dance revolution, he recruiting all the greats and the rest are going pro. What can you say, times are changing.

Ideal crowd?
Nick Nolte, Charlie Sheen, Cuban kick boxer Angel Valodia Matos, Lindsey Lohan, Gary Busey, that guy who took a bath in the sink at Burger King and Amy Winehouse. You know, socially responsible people.

How do you feel about requests?
I hate them. I kind of take it personal as if I 'm not doing my job, but people can be hell of random too. I'll be playing a classic joint like "Award Tour" or "I Got it Made" and someone will come up and ask if I can play some hip-hop. Or I'll be spinning at an obvious hip-hop function, break dancing, emceeing, the whole nine and someone will come up and ask if I will play some Britney Spears.

Do you have a story about a particular request or requester?
Yeah. To go along with the other question, to the guy yelling in my ear who wants me to play his CD that he has out in his car, I and a room full of people don't want to hear the fantastic song you made last night with your laptop, GarageBand, and garage sale microphone! And to the super underground cat who rattles off 20 emcees and groups I've never heard of in my life, your life is the hip-hop equivalent to that of a Star Trek conventioneer. Now go away.

Do you DJ full time? / What do you do outside of DJing?
I DJ for Sandpeople and its many members and sub-groups: Clockwerk, The One and Only, Iame; Alphabet Stew; Rocket One; Living Proof and occasionally other local, regional and national artists. I also do scratches, studio work for artists as well as work full time. I like Disc Golfing with wack artists LPs.

Where can we find you?
It's like those "Where's Waldo" books. If I told you, It would ruin the fun of finding me. I'd also waste the use of this long-sleeved red striped turtleneck and matching hat. I'll be touring with Sandpeople on the Living Legends Tour this fall.

How long have you been spinning?
Since that last Bombay Sapphire and Lime? About 12 years or so.

What drew you to DJing originally?
Jam Master Jay, DJ Jazzy Jeff and my cousin Steve. We tried to emulate the cuts with limited success on my dads belt drive. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Jam Master Jay a few years before his death. R.I.P.

What are your thoughts on vinyl vs CDs vs laptops?
I feel and understand arguments on both sides. When you talk about the feel, control and sound in regards to cutting and scratching, vinyl is king. When it come to performing in a group, touring with an artist or making and playing your own remixes, Serato is a necessity, for the simple fact pressing your own vinyl is just not cost effective, and carrying tons of records on the road is not really an option. At the same time Serato somewhat levels the playing field for unaccomplished cats that have no business playing shows. It makes it so anyone can mock a whole record collection over a few days when a more veteran DJ might have spent a decade and thousands of dollars piecing one together. Technology can only take you so far though. For example, 50 some years ago you could only watch black and white TV, now we have High Definition but did that change the person sitting on the couch?

It's like the same argument with technology in sports equipment. A larger tennis racket or golf club, can help you hit a more accurate or longer shot, but hard work and talent will always shine through.

What songs will we find ourselves dancing to with you?
I am not going to tell you, but they're all on my new mixtape Project "MiniVan Halen" exclusively featuring Sandpeople now available to the public! Just [contact] me [via Myspace] and cop a minivan (unabashed plug)!

How would you describe yourself in five words or less—complete sentence or not:
With my basic English skills.

How do you describe the genre you play?
Underground / Classic Hip-Hop / Spoken Word Instrumentals

Who are your other favorite Portland DJs?
Wicked, Void, The Fix DJs, Wels, Zone, Davis Cleveland

Anything else?
Everyone, Barack the Vote this November!

Sandpeople play Berbati's Pan with Living Legends this Thursday, Sept. 18. $15 advance, $18 day of show. All Ages!

Sparker LewisSpace
Sand PeopleSpace

Photo courtesy of Sparker Lewis
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