It came from Bandcamp: The chillwave kaleidoscope of Sparkle Motion

Sparkle Motion, this week’s Bandcamp gem, was mined in chilly Flagstaff. Geewhiz, is it one heck of a kaleidoscope of dream pop/slightly psychedelic/chillwave vibes.

September saw the release of Sparkle Motion’s latest work, “Silver” and “Come Closer.” The former is a bass-heavy, melodic romp through the loss of your resolve and taking Tylenol, while the latter just so happens to sample “Head over Heels” by Tears for Fears to great effect. You can explore that auditory dreamscape right here.

Your reporter recently sat down with the man behind the sparkle, NAU music sophomore Conner Chase, to discuss his commitment to Sparkle Motion (which we don’t doubt), felines, Gary Numan and creative vomit.

The State Press: What’s the origin story for Sparkle Motion?

Sparkle Motion: It started out as a summer project right after I graduated high school. My friend Ridley and I had a semi-electronic group, so I started trying to learn as much as I could about synthesizers and sampling, drawing a lot of inspiration from bands like Baths and Slow Magic. That summer, I made "Gold Coins," which I guess was my motivation to start making more tracks that embraced these ambient, dreamy textures.

SP: Why “Sparkle Motion” as a name?

SM: I'm a movie buff, I guess you could say, and I have a big obsession with “Donnie Darko.” Sparkle Motion is the name of Donnie's little sister Sam's school dance group; in the movie they perform at a school talent show to the cheesy '80s song "Notorious" by Duran Duran. I thought this was the best thing ever when I saw the movie, so the choice seemed logical.

SP: Sparkle Motion, according to Bandcamp, is “dream pop for deaf people made by cats.” How are cats involved?

SM: So, after I finish recording the tracks, I hire three to four freelance felines to run across my computer keyboard to give it that final added flare. It adds a layer of depth to the recordings I think.

SP: Who/what has influenced your sound?

SM: Growing up, Jimi Hendrix was the first person that really made me go crazy and influenced me to pick up the guitar. Sonically, his music was on a completely other level that blew my mind. As far as electronic-esque musicians, I actively worship Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus, Sylvan Esso, Spazzkid and Baths. My sound is constantly evolving and changing as well; I'm a firm believer in creative exploration and trying as many new things as possible.

SP: What’s your creative process like? Does a tune just materialize in your head and you go from there?

SM: My creative process is pretty scattered. I struggled for a long time figuring out how to write or compose music effectively. I finally figured out that I work best writing in small pieces; I'll usually start with one thing, and build everything from there. It's sort of like creative vomit. A lot of times, I'll be somewhere and record just on my iPhone, and that'll turn out to be like the heart of the song. I think recording while you write is really important as well because if you end up doing something cool in the moment, it's there and you can use it! There's nothing worse than coming up with a cool idea and forgetting it.

SP: The Internet claims you’re a part of The Underground Foundation NAU. Is this correct? If so, what’s that like? Have you done any shows?

SM: I am indeed. For once, the Internet was truthful. I'm in charge of band relations, organizing events and running sound and visuals for all the shows we put on. The club is a really great outlet for promoting art and creative expression within the community, and it has been a great opportunity for me as an artist to experiment with different ideas. I've played a couple shows so far as Sparkle Motion through TUF NAU, and honestly, these shows were probably my favorite shows to play. The dynamic with TUF and everyone that attends the events is just so positive, that it's hard not to have a great time.

SP: What’s it like playing a live show? Are ya a one-man band?

SM: It started out as just me, but my friend Tim plays saxophone live with me currently, and that's been awesome. With Tim, I have that added support and that other layer of live sound that makes the set way better overall. Every show we develop just a bit more; I always try to create brand new material for each show, and I've started to incorporate visual elements like projections and costumes to make the show even more than just music. My goal is to just create the most fun live show I can, and get as many people dancing as possible.

SP: OK, so you’re making a hypothetical music video for one of your songs. What’s the ideal visual accompaniment to that album?

SM: I've tried making some music videos before, working with stop motion and black and white drawings, but I was overwhelmed at the amount of work it required, so I never finished it. I'd really like to get back into it, especially with this new album. Where my past stuff has seemed more monochrome in a way, this new album is dense with color and texture, so I think that could translate into some really cool videos. I've been looking through a lot of kaleidoscopes lately, so I might try to do something cool with that. I also have been watching a lot of early black and white cartoons. We will see what materializes.

SP: Let’s talk about your cover of Gary Numan’s classic, “Cars.” What inspired it? Are you a fan of cars in general?

SM: So, I recorded this song for fun one Saturday in my dorm room. I remember it was the day after Gary Numan was playing in Phoenix, and I love Gary Numan, so I was pretty bummed. Sometimes, I try to see how close I can replicate certain sounds and synths in recordings, just for fun, and this one turned out pretty well. At the time, I had one new original song and a collection of remixes that I really wanted to release so this track turned out to be the perfect fit for that. As for actual cars, the movie was decent, and the vehicle is helpful.

As per tradition, your humble Bandcamp miner ends with a call to action: Check out Sparkle Motion on Bandcamp.

Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length.

Reach the reporter at Zachariah.Webb@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter at @zachariahkaylar

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