Glasgow by way of Hamburg, dance veteran Sparky (aka Dave Clark) has been around the block. He was a member of early ’90s Techno outfit State Of Flux, and later regularly teamed up with JD Twitch on remix duty as Optimo (Espacio). Most recently he’s been working for Optimo Trax as LUMA, and his excellent new 12″ ‘Signals / Tigress’ is out now on Numbers.
‘Signals’, cooked up in Sparky’s garden studio, splits the line between early Synth Pop and Detroit Techno, while ‘Tigress’ is an archive cut that Numbers finally managed to prise away from his vaults after almost a decade of pestering. So good that the label were reduced to playing a 192 mp3 last summer.
Sparky is playing a live set at Numbers’ London warehouse party this weekend, along with Jackmaster, Denis Sulta and Jay Daniel. Ahead of that, he’s kindly taken some time to run us through his musical upbringing, from his first synth to a House epiphany to Glasgow today.
The Birthday Party – Junkyard
I moved to West Germany from Scotland in early 1984 because my dad got a new job. I was 13. Hamburg was a completely different place to the small central-belt town where I spent my childhood, and immediately I was exposed to all sorts of new experiences, not least new and interesting music. In fact I accidentally saw Einsturzende Neubauten as the ‘house band’ at a theatre show the same year. This video shows the sort of thing that I was exposed to on German cable TV in the early 80’s.
Yellow Magic Orchestra – Firecracker
At school in Hamburg, I made a great friend who was from Tokyo and we regularly made each other tapes. He introduced me, among other bands, to YMO by giving me a cassette of their first 2 albums, ‘Yellow Magic Orchestra’ and ‘Solid State Survivor’. It was my first introduction to non (euro/US) chart music, and this track inspired me to buy my first synth, a Yamaha DX100.
The Residents – Constantinople
By 1985 I was taping everything I could get my hands on. I didn’t have any money to buy records so radio, fanzines and word of mouth were the only ways to discover new music. The school I was at was very small but seemed to have a disproportionate amount of people with broad tastes in music. By this time we were discovering Post Punk, US Hardcore, Industrial, Psychobilly, Reggae, and out-there stuff like The Residents. I think this is when I started to appreciate ‘weird’.
Front Club, Hamburg, 1988
At the end of summer 1987, a few pals were returning from the UK with tapes of dance mixes. At first I confused it with shitty chart pop, but soon began to tune in and love it. By ’88 me and friend were going to the ‘Front’ club, one of West Germany’s first House clubs (sometimes even on school nights). It was the first time i’d seen a room of people doing nothing but dancing, and the first time I’d heard real House music loud. It blew my mind.
Seawards The Great Ships
My family returned to the UK in early 1990, and I moved back to Scotland to study in Glasgow which is a port town like Hamburg, but the two cities were poles apart in terms of wealth, social problems and weather. This Oscar-winning documentary from 1960 beautifully shows Glasgow’s River Clyde in it’s heyday. Sadly the boom time wouldn’t last much longer. I like to watch it soundtracked by the last half-hour of Johann Johannson’s ‘The Miner’s Hymns’ because it better evokes the utter sadness of the industry and the city’s decline.
Ron Trent – Altered States
Glasgow is now reasonably well known as a city with a strong love of House and Techno music. There weren’t many clubs around in the very early 90’s that played the kind of stuff I wanted to hear, and the one that meant the most to me was actually in Edinburgh, run by a collective called Renegade, with JD Twitch and DJ Brainstorm as the resident DJs. Going to the club for the first time was a true epiphany. The spine tingle I got when the synth-strings came in on this track will stay with me forever.
Factory Floor – R E A L L O V E (Optimo Espacio Mix)
The story of my musical journey (and Scottish clubbing in general) can’t go without the mention of Optimo. Although its weekly night was on a Sunday, I’d regularly go and suffer the nightmare Monday hangovers for years. Keith McIvor became a great friend, and over the years we’ve worked together on dozens of projects. For several years we remixed many bands, and my favourite mix we did was for the Japanese band Boris. But it isn’t on YouTube, so I’ll play my next fave, for the amazing Factory Floor.
Mogwai – Rano Pano
There’s such an amazing variety of music coming out of Glasgow. I won’t list any genres because they’re pointless, but for such a small city, the output is incredible. Here’s a video that the uber-talented Glaswegian Tom Scholefield (Konx-Om-Pax) did for Mogwai, which stars my wee brother and a pal after a few shandies.
Denis Sulta, Boiler Room Glasgow
Scotland has an amazing musical future too. For example, here’s youngster Denis Sulta utterly destroying the Sub Club on Boiler Room.
Limmy’s Show – Dee Dee – Charity Bag
But Glasgow certainly isn’t all about music. The city is so creatively fertile in visual arts, film, music and, of course, the legendary patter. This is Limmy with his hapless character, ‘Dee Dee’.
Sparky plays @ ‘Numbers LDN: Return To The Warehouse’ this Sat 5 Dec, get tickets here.
Featured image: Brian Sweeney