New York, New York.

Times Square.

Times Square.

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I’d be thumbing a yellow taxi down in New York, but when you buy the ticket, you take the ride.

I didn’t so much buy a ticket, but worked hard for an application to Birmingham City University, which was accepted and led to so many wonderful things; the IBS Awards, being one of them. Armed with my tutor’s knowledge of radio and a recorder, I crafted a documentary series in partnership with the guys in DePaul and was shocked to find an email in my inbox in January telling me that we had been nominated for two awards at IBS.

So last week, Sam Coley, Scratch’s managers, Kris, and I boarded a plane. It was a big deal and, in rock star fashion, I brought my mum along. She got pretty out of control, but calmed down once I told her the drugs and hookers would be there to greet her on the other side.

New York really is a jungle and don’t believe anyone who tells you differently. Everyone is there for a purpose and as we first glanced at the sky scrapers of Manhattan out of the window, I knew what ours’ was.

The hotel Pennsylvania used to be the biggest in the world and its basement used to play host to some of the most brilliant jazz artists in the city. As I stepped down its hall ways and glanced at the view from the eighteenth floor, I imagined them playing long into the night. It was beautiful.

The Derby Telegraph even did a write up on us. 

The conference was full of people from all over America; I met some that we’re from Tennessee, Texas, California, Oregon and many who had travelled more of Europe than me. They were brilliant and bright and had so much to say about their subject. I met producers and presenters on the IBS’s station tours of CBS and Nash, who, despite their years, never tired of their subject. But most importantly, I met the two people that allowed me to gain the content in the first place; Joe and Jess from DePaul. We were the first ever English people to attend the conference, let alone win an award and it made me proud.

We did a panel and spoke about sharing content across countries, which went down brilliant and with our down time we ran around Greenwich and pretended to be Bob Dylan… ok, only I did that. However, we still visited the legendary Café Wha, where he was discovered and legends like Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix played. I saw Central Park and walked around Times Square. It felt very much like being in a film.

Empire state of mind.

Empire state of mind.

The taxi driver in the car we spoke to said that New Yorkers were always busy to go nowhere, but part of me doesn’t think that’s correct. I think they’re dream chasers, always trying to catch up with their desires, and what better place to run, than amongst the sky scrapers.

Here’s my entry below,

Stay tuned for more crazy journey’s.

Soph x

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Snow in Hell and the mission for the next novel.

front book cover

Ok, so last year I released Snow in Hell, it was my first ever novel and I’m super happy about it. For those of you who don’t know, I write sci-fi, fantasy adventures about crazy characters. This story was all about an angel, who fell from her world and in order to regain her place had to trial her mad methods on Earth, resulting in brainwashing and world domination. Then two scientists, a Christian demon, Satan’s daughter, a pissed off vampire and a necrophiliac transvestite called Barbie got involved and the rest is history.

Now I’m slowly moving onto the next challenge and it’s been hard getting it off the ground again after third year and my move to Brixton, but the story board is out and the game is set! I’m not saying a lot for now, as I’m only in the very early stages, however there is one thing I would like to say.

More queer characters need to be in sci-fi and fantasy… not even that, just in general stories! No, I’m not talking about making the whole storyline about their transition or their love affair which has to be kept secret, because ‘Oh god, it’s the worst thing ever!’ But just there, you know, living, being caught up in the storyline.

I’m also not saying don’t acknowledge the struggle that gay/ bi sexual / pansexual/ non gender binary/ transgender people etc. go through… do! Although, it is important just to let the characters be themselves, rather than just focus on their issues. I want to know what they like for tea and if they can kick ass when aliens come and attack!

I hope I’m explaining myself well!

This is something that I hope my writing does and I hope to do more of it. In my next book, I have decided to make my main character transgender, she will be my beautiful heroin and I’m so excited to write about her.

I know I’m not transgender. Yes, I have done lots of research and intend to do more and although the story won’t be about her transition, yes of course I will talk about it as it’s a massive part of her life. I didn’t choose to write her just because she was transgender, but because when I thought of the story that was how I imagined my character.

I know that I could rant for ages, so I’m gonna pause there!

Anyway, in summary for this next book expect epic battles, Father Time, a circus and some gay sex scene between two men from different worlds.

Woohoo! Have an ace weekend y’all.

Sx

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For Those About to Dare.

I was going to write a post tonight all about homesickness, how to overcome it and the loneliness of the magical, filthy city that is London.

But then I thought no, no, I don’t want to do that. I have spoken to many people these past few weeks who have been really down. So in the words of ‘Kid President’ I think we all need a prep talk. After watching ‘Kill Your Darlings’ I felt inspired to write poetry, which is something I’ve not done in ages.

This poem is a response to really negative poem I wrote about having dreams, then waking up and release you’re not doing anything about them. This poem is the opposite, because, fuck it, we all need a little motivation from time to time. It’s called ‘For Those About to Dare’. (Spoken word Link Below)

http://www.mixcloud.com/sophie_sparham/for-those-about-to-dare-by-sophie-sparham/

For Those About To Dare  

I’m tired.

I’m tired and I’m sick of being wrong.

But even if I don’t know the words,

I’ll continue to sing my own song.

 

I cannot swim.

But I’ll dive into the depths

I cannot say those words,

The ones closest to my chest.

I cannot run,

Unless it is from Kings.

I cannot fly.

But fuck it, I’ll do it anyway.

I am the hawk with no wings.

 

Baby, we’re just moth on a merry go round

Scrambling towards flashing lights

Strangled by life’s circle

Where the only direction is right

But I say No. I choose Wrong.

And yes, the punters laugh at me,

Yes, my journey is long.

But Darling, it’s time to stop this ride,

We deserve the freedom of this carnival,

I need to live, not just be alive.

 

Before we go any further, I know that this is hard.

I have seen my chandelier dreams,

Shattered into shards.

I have seen my carcass of hope, rotting in the sun.

And I was the vulture that picked the bones

Until the light of day was gone.

 

Yes, I have my freedom

Yes, I experience loneliness

Yes, sometimes my heart aches so, that I’ve had tea with death.

Yes, I wanted to give up,

before I’d said I’d tried

And yes, I am a long way from the place I thought I belonged

And sometimes I want to cut the wire

And pull myself home.

 

But I refuse, I refuse, I refuse.

Whatever you do, please remember this.

 

Baby, they taunt us.

And they will do so for the rest of our lives,

Unless we prove ourselves from the righteous view of their eyes.

But I would rather be cursed, torn, hurt, beaten down,

Have my guts pulled out, wear a bleeding, wretched frown

Have every breath draw from my body, until I cannot stand

Than live a drunken fool, starved by ignorance in some utopian land.

 

 

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My Festival, Radio Course, Festival Three Weekend Sandwich

Hey everyone!

So the past few weekends have been very crazy and instead of exploring London and writing, like I’m meant to be doing, I’ve been away a lot! So let’s do this in order!

Weekend One

Firstly, I went to Hell Fest with this crazy guy  (my festival Uncle Angel) I literally had just been to spain and as soon as I touched down on the plane, had to drive down to Dover to get the ferry over (massive thank you to my boyfriend and bad planning on my behalf!).

Anywayyyy, the festival was great, I met some amazing people and caught up with some old friends. Mark – pictured left, who I’ve known for years and the lovely Jamie picked right! – look at me rockin’ the hat… not.

I also sat in on a bilingual interview, which was interesting! (Pictured below)

As I was working, there was no way I could get close to the main stages, however I finally got to see Against Me! And about died because they’re one of my favourite bands and Laura is so beautiful. I also saw Soundgarden for the fourth time (major fan girl moment).

So my verdict on Hell Fest is: Awesome to go to as a punter, not so great if you’re working and camping. The festival is cool, but very busy and you have to go over a lot of stairs and with camera equipment etc. it’s not good, plus they don’t really book any interviews with English press which was a pain! But overall, the décor was amazing and the line up was cool – forgetting the clashes!

P.S The French toll roads are killer, get a bus or travel in a large group if you can!

Weekend Two

I went to a training course with BBC Skill Set. It was a course for free lancers and gave a general overview of radio production, resulting in the production of fifteen minute radio production at the end of the weekend.

I could go on and on about the BBC software (which I’d never seen before!) but I won’t bore you with the details! The important things you need to know are the hotel looked like Downton Abbey!

(Halleluiah – shit the bed!)

And I was taught by some amazing people and also met some wonderful people, including the beautiful Debra, who is the editor of The Feminist Times!

Weekend Three 

…getting pretty knackered now. But don’t worry I decided to be sensible and go to Sonisphere after work on Friday and dance to the Prodigy!

It was awesome, met up with Angel and Rach from BRFM (Best Radio for Miles) in Wales and we watched loads of awesome bands! Haha, there’s not really a lot to say about this! I saw Gorjira which made me really happy and caught up with lots of old friends!

Also met up with Jamie again and found out he was driving Baby Metal! – Crazy guy! I have a lot to say on Baby Metal, but that’s another post for another day.

Sophie conclusion: tired but feeling epic!

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Rebellion Line Up Spread Sheet!

Ok boy and girls, I promise I’ll do an update blog about what I’ve been doing soon, but for now, the summer is here and summer means one thing for us music fans – festivals!

This year, I’ve been lucky to go to a few, but shall also being going to Rebellion in August, for punks, ice cream and of course music! This is my first Rebellion and I want both me and you guys to see as many bands as possible, so here’s the festival running order:

You can view it online:

https://docs.zoho.com/file/mb9ur2b25a7abfb62436297730c47b157298d

Or download it for the festival, by click the link below!

http://sophiesparham.co.uk/RebellionSchedule2014.xls

and it’s a lot cheaper than a program!

See you in Blackpool

Sx

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Ending University and Beginning Life in the Real World: My crazy move to London, aka how not to do it.

Ok, so I understand that I have not blogged for a while, or written, or done anything outside of university as a matter of fact, seeing as I’ve been finishing my third year at Birmingham City. And it was hard, but then again, that is why it was called a degree and I learnt a lot about media.

However, as it became May, I knew my time was almost up in the second city. Was I sad? When I had time to be, yes! But I was also excited as I’d be starting at the Prison Radio Association in London. I didn’t really think about the logistics of this at the time. I’d tried calling a few housing places at the start of May but you have to move in pretty snappy in the big smoke, so I’d had no luck.

One day my friend Anna invited me to a punk gig in Manchester, it was amazing, but what was even more awesome about that day was that I met a beautiful woman from Brixton called Jenaveve. What even were the chances?! She was living exactly where I was moving to and she was vegan (double bonus points). I travelled to meet her the following weekend and she said I could stay on her floor when I first moved down. Thank god.

Things began to get real a week before our, exhibition at university, which (lucky me) I was chairwoman for the radio room. So that was an extra stress! I blitz my room, put my life into boxes, whilst still trying to finish my degree and find a place to live. It was a horrible week. I finished uni on the Thursday night, the last night of my exhibition and was due to start my new job on the Monday. 4 days to find a house.

Before I knew it, I kissed my boyfriend goodbye, said goodbye to my friends and jumped onto a train with a backpack and a suitcase containing my whole life.  I felt like I was in a film; I still didn’t have a place and time was running out. Thankfully, I had two viewings on Saturday so I was crossing all my fingers. I met Jen on Friday night and we went to the pub to drink with her friend Andy who runs a socialist stall on Saturdays in the town centre. I liked him a lot!

On the Saturday I awoke know that I had to find somewhere to live. I walked to the first viewing and the people were wonderful, but there was also six other people viewing the property. Sadly, I walked back up Brixton Hill, sure that I wouldn’t get the house. My next viewing was at the opposite end of the town, it took me a while to get there and the sun burnt me, but the journey was worth it. Because at that house waited the wonderful Jack and as she showed me the single room, I knew it was perfect.

Then she said those brilliant words, “You can move in if you like?”

“Tomorrow?” I asked.

“That’s fine.”

That was when I almost broke down in tears because of the sheer joy I felt. I almost wanted to shout ‘Victory!’ – that may have been a bit too overdramatic!

The rest of the day was filed with embarrassing moments such as me going to the cinema and falling asleep then venturing round Brixton with Andy who thought it’d be an awesome idea to get drunk, air guitar and sing Queen to a full London bus.  Still think he’s great.

Finally Sunday came and I dragged my case through Brixton to my new house. It took me half an hour but it was worth it! I started work the following day.

And my job, is awesome.

So that’s how not to do it kids. I do not recommend moving like that at all! It is chancing a lot of things, but in this case it was so worth it!

Blogs about writing and the new book coming soon!

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Native Monster!

Recently, I’ve started writing for Native Monster, the new West Midland’s entertainment website. After pitching a few ideas, I’m happy to say that I’ll be promoting Unsigned bands around the area as well as doing my usual interviews with passing touring bands.

Here’s a link to my first article and the transcript below:

http://nativemonster.com/music/birmingham-based-band-set-for-big-things

Inspired by the likes of nineties legends Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age and Weezer, Since Monroe having been remodelling alternative grunge ever since their formation in 2011.

Consisting of members Andy Clifford, James Bradley and brothers, Rich and Matt Tregortha; the Birmingham based, four piece’s debut E.P ‘Lost Generation’ attracted the attention of many, including Amazing Radio’s Rock Show. Now, with a tour only days away, Since Monroe’s latest release ‘Dropped on My Head as an Adult’ has got even higher expectations.

“It’s a lot heavier and a lot more song writing based than the last, E.P” says guitarist, Matt.

The band’s music combines distorted breakdowns with catchy riffs and melodic vocals, to give a diverse range of today’s alternative music. Heavier songs such as ‘Caged’ and ‘Jugular’ demand attention with fast paced guitars, whilst pop infused classics ‘The World is Out to Get Me’ shows the bands lighter side and give audiences something to sing along to.

Since Monroe are keeping the Birmingham music scene going strong. With rumours of an album next year, these guys are definitely one to watch out for in the future.

Check them out at https://www.facebook.com/sincemonroe

Watch the video for ‘Everyone’s a Statue’ at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McqiJjgv0rY

And get their latest E.P ‘Dropped on My Head as an Adult’ free from http://sincemonroe.bandcamp.com/

And here’s my last interview with Letlive! http://nativemonster.com/music/letlive-let-loose-in-birmingham

This weekend, post hardcore L.A stars, Letlive, headlined the infamous Birmingham rock venue, The Asylum, as part of their U.K tour.

Although the band have visited England before, when playing Download and the Kerrang Tour in 2012, this trip is extremely significant for them.  ‘This is our first big headliner tour in the U.K,’ says lead singer, Jason Butler, ‘we did one a few years back, but it was much, much smaller and so this is a lot different.   It’s certainly a significant change and development in the band.’

The band began their tour the previous evening in Bristol and were shocked by the reaction from fans.  ‘Bristol was crazy!’ the singer laughs humbly, ‘ I guess it’s just that when we play a show, we don’t expect much, because we don’t feel entitled to expect anything, so we’ve just been out to try to do the best we can and the response that we’ve received has been really, really wild.’

This may be due to the raving reviews for Letlive’s latest album ‘The Blackest Beautiful’, which was released earlier in the year. Following on from ‘Fake History’ in 2011, Butler purposely chose to do little production work to gain a rawer sound.  ‘There’s a disparity from the last record to this one, I think the point with this album was to abandon the superficial elements of music, recording and a band’s persona and put together a record that was honest.’

As well as aiming for a more organic sound, ‘The Blackest Beautiful’ also deals with some deep issues. ‘The album is about the imperfections that make us human beings. We’re the most emotive creatures on this Earth and although it hinders us at times, the duality serves quite well as it helps us understand ourselves and it also helps us learn.’

‘Messing up is how you learn,’ he adds, ‘you can read and study as much as you want but experiencing the perils and the trails of life is where I’ve found my most cherished lessons. So the message with the ‘Blackest Beautiful’ is that it’s ok to be an erroneous human being , it’s part of who we are, it’s what makes us special, it’s what makes us quite beautiful I think.’

It’s clear that this new record draws upon a lot of the singer’s new experiences as Butler, himself, has learnt a lot the past few years. ‘I’ve released things about myself that I had supressed and things that I needed to deal with. Ironically, after excavating all my issues, I’ve found a way to feel better as opposed to feeling depressed and sad about it. Although it does elicit feelings in me that can be angry, sad, confused and frustrated the end result is very, very positive.’

Interestingly, despite his hardcore background, the singer has also been experimenting with a different genre for his own solo project, ‘I’ve been writing a lot on my own with my guitar.  I’m very much inclined towards rhythm and blues hip-hop, like this new age of idiosyncratic dark, dark R n B and I’ve just been writing things like that and sharing my ideas with other artists so we’ll see, it’s definitely on the horizon.’

So, with the rest of U.K to travel and a U.S coming up with ‘Everytime I Die’ it’s clear that Letlive have a busy winter ahead of them.

 

 

 

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An interview with Margot and Jade from Snow in Hell.

A lot has happened in these few weeks. The biggest new so far is that my book, Snow in Hell, will finally be coming out this Halloween! Just in time for All Hallow’s Read! A lot more information will be coming up on this soon!

Prior to the release, I wanted you guys to get to know my characters just as well as I do. So Margot Grant and Jade Wilde, reluctantly agreed to speak to me. This is how it went…

Sophie- Ok, so first of all thank you for coming here guys, I know you’ve been really busy and- Margot would you mind putting that cigarette out in my house?

Margot – Is this gonna take long? Because, I have, you know, like a life.

Jade – Why do people always think that I’m a woman?

Sophie – What?!

Jade – Well it’s just that all of your audience think I’m a girl!

Margot – Ha! People think you’re a girl that’s hilarious!

Jade – It really is not Margot.

Margot – Oh come on Jade! It is a little bit funny! Don’t cha-

Sophie – Guys please! Jade I think we’ve now all clearly established that you’re a man. Can we actually start the interview now?

Margot and Jade – Fine.

Sophie – Phew, ok, thank you! Now for people who don’t know who you guys are, how about describing yourselves a bit.

Jade – Well, hello readers, my name is professor Jade Wilde, I’m from the island of Bequia and me and my partner here have worked on many scientific projects that your minds have only yet to discover. For example, Nomad, the first ever space craft to leave the universe, the portable Jonovicator, far more advanced than your average journal-

Margot – Fucking hell Jade! Don’t bore them to death. Why not tell them your favourite colour while you’re at it.

Jade – I was just getting to that.

Margot – Jade, seriously, stop.

Jade – But Sophie said-

Margot – Fuck what she said, we need to sound cool. Look, let me go first.

Sophie – I’m all ears.

Margot – Cool, ok, well I’m Margot Grant and me and my buddy Jade here have done some pretty amazing stuff. I’m talking vampires, explosions, other worldly shit.

Jade- You’re making us sound like a Ridley Scott film…

Margot – Well you didn’t do much better!

Sophie – Moving on swiftly, how did you feel your characters were portrayed?

Margot – Well to be honest Sophie, you made me out to be a pretty mardy bitch.

Jade – I wonder why…

Margot – It just really pissed me off, I don’t shout that much.

Jade – Well in the lab you are prone to losing your temper.

Margot – I am not!

Sophie – Alright Margot, calm down, there’s no need to be so aggressive.

Margot – Hey man, take it up with yourself, you created me!

Sophie – Fair point.

Jade – In all seriousness, I thought we were portrayed pretty accurately, I feel like I learnt a lot.

Margot – I think I’m going to throw up in my mouth.

Sophie – Go on Jade.

Jade – The journey was both a mental and physical one, I learnt a lot more about who I was and not to be so timid and that I could act as well as just think.

Margot – I learnt that other worlds have some pretty messed up drinks at their bars.

Sophie – I’m sure they do.

Margot – Like seriously, you guys should go to The Halo and Harp, it’s crazy.  It’s just like bars stacked up to the ceiling on top of one another and the seats are spinning ladders, great joint.

Jade – It’s a shame those people are idiots.

Margot – Are you going on about Damien again? Seriously, he’s not actually that bad once you get to know him.

Jade- Can we please not discuss this in front of Sophie, it’s a private matter!

Sophie – Guyyssss, interview.

Margot – Well go on then we’re waiting!

Sophie – Favourite and worst parts?

Jade – Well I didn’t really enjoy getting beaten up, or crawling round in the rubbish tip or – wait come to think of it, I didn’t enjoy most of it!

Margot – Well, I love the experience, it was amazing. I’m sure that will come across when the book is released.

Sophie – Yeah, I’m sure it will… Now-

Margot – Ok, thanks Soph, it’s been fun, it really has but we’ve godda shoot.

Sophie – But, I’ve not finished!

Margot – Just send us the questions over email, come on Jade.

Jade- Nice meeting you!

Sophie – Thank god that’s over.

 

Below: Margot and Jade- a writer’s impression. (I never said art was my strong point.)

 

Margot and Jade

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You can buy my latest book "Snow in Hell" by clicking here! X