We had the good fortune of connecting with Stevie Sparks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stevie, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor in my current success is undoubtedly the support of my family and friends. Not only do they come to my shows, share my work online, and in some cases help out financially; but they also believe in my ability and skills, and since graduating from college and returning to Austin I’ve built a wonderful group of people who will advocate for my musicianship and continue to push me forward in my career. As an aspiring creative, I was often told about the power of networking—which, to my introverted self, sounded completely exhausting. But I’ve realized that the true nature of networking isn’t just a constant grind of promoting yourself, your work, and “getting in good” with the right people. The most important part, to me, has been developing new friendships. My current bandmates all care about each other as people, and we support and help each other grow both in and outside of music. Networking means forging connections with people I care about and admire; I want them to succeed as much as I do. Plus, after years of being around so many amazing people who believe in me, I’m starting to believe in myself!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My two goals are to learn how to play as many instruments as I can, and also write music for video games. Currently I play piano, flute, saxophone, and clarinet, and I’m learning trumpet and guitar. I release both covers and originals under the brand name SymphonicElectric–mostly video game music covers on various instruments, but I’m working on building a portfolio as a music composer as well. I’m essentially here to make as much music as possible! Since returning to Austin in 2016, I’ve played in multiple different bands–right now I’m a member of Primo Musique (tango/jazz), Sheilava (pop/alternative), and Oh Antonio & His Imaginary Friends (light rock, or as my best friend calls it, “ska except not annoying”). In college I really honed my jazz skills, and I would say improvisation is my strong point: not only can I pull out a funky jazz solo, but I can also adapt to a variety of genres. I did go to college for music originally, but it wasn’t until about my senior year that I started to consider a career in music after graduating. If I had planned more ahead of time, I would likely have gone to school specifically for a degree in music performance, but I’m glad I ended up at Knox College, not least because I ended up getting to travel to China with the jazz ensemble! My biggest obstacle has definitely been my inability to believe in myself. Even in college, if I’d had more confidence in my skills, I would have been able to achieve more. I’m still not where I would like to be in terms of my own self-image, but what really helps is being surrounded by wonderful friends and fellow musicians who support me.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’ve actually considered this, as my best friends from college have talked about visiting Austin! There are so many great places to eat here: Kerbey Lane Cafe for breakfast, Tarka Indian Kitchen for lunch, Chuy’s for the best Tex-Mex dinner you can find, and either Voodoo Donuts or Amy’s Ice Cream for dessert. I also have a couple personal favourites, such as Miyako (a delicious sushi bar very close to my house) and Michi Ramen (which serves some of the most mouth-watering ramen I’ve ever had). I also have to mention the various bubble tea shops such as Coco’s Cafe and Teapioca. Thinking about the Austin music scene, of course your mind would go to big shows like SXSW and ACL–but they don’t call us the live music capitol for nothing! There are always amazing bands performing at places like the One-to-One Bar, Kickbutt Coffee, The Local, and one of my personal favourites, the Carousel Lounge. I would have to take them to one of my band’s live shows, most likely my jazz band’s performance at Sa-Ten Coffee & Eats for their once-monthly Slow-Pour Sunday. For a fun night out we could take a walk down 6th Street, or see what’s playing at the Long Center. If the weather’s nice, we could take a dip in the Barton Springs pool, or ride our bikes through Zilker Park. Or, if we wanted less of the crowds, there are several really nice hiking trails all over the Austin area (which is more my speed, if I’m being honest). If we got the timing right, I could take them to see the bats that fly out from under Congress bridge in late summer. I’ve only seen them a handful of times for all the years I’ve lived here, but it’s a really fun event! There are also some really great places to shop, from Round Rock Premium Outlets down to Barton Creek Mall. One of the best haunts in my opinion is H-Mart, not only for groceries but also for the small shops attached to the building, including Tous Les Jours, a truly decadent little bakery. Another great hangout spot is the Arboretum, which holds sentimental value for me as it’s where my dad used to work, and I have many memories playing on the marble cows as a kid. Honestly, there are so many great spots in Austin I’m not sure we could fit them all into a single week!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people I would give credit to, but I’ll try to keep it brief: First, I don’t think I’d be nearly as proud of my music if it weren’t for the support of my family and friends. My dad always comes to every show he can make, whether in-person or online. My younger brothers both champion my work on social media, and my best friends are always encouraging me to try new music and grow my skills. Second of course would be my bandmates–I’m in a few different groups, and am eternally grateful for the members of Primo Musique, Oh Antonio & His Imaginary Friends, and Sheilava for giving me the chance to perform with them. I also wouldn’t have come this far without my many teachers and mentors, from my first piano teacher at age 5, to the jazz faculty at Knox College, to my awesome trumpet teacher who has helped me make far more headway on the instrument than I ever would have by myself.
Other: SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/symphonicelectric
Christopher De La Rosa Adam T Richard Hawes
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