Taking it back: TMF meets Spark
We’re never wrong at TMF; we’re just ahead of the curve. Last night marked the return of Jess Morgan, AKA Spark, to the live arena in the intimate, and slightly quirky, surroundings of The Social in London. It’s been almost two years since Spark’s last live outing at Bestival in 2011 and at the time, at least from the outside looking in, things seemed to only be going one way for the now 21-year-old. So what happened?
“Once I went on tour with Marina [And The Diamonds], it all happened very fast. I got back from tour and signed straight away, and it was go, go, go. It was so fast that I didn’t really have a chance to stop and think about what I was really making” recalls Spark when we sat down with her before the set. “I have no hard feelings towards my old label. We got to the point where we realised it wasn’t working. It was very amicable and I respect that.”
One thing immediately apparent from both the tracks released last month and the comeback set is that while the strong, charismatic vocals are still there, this isn’t necessarily Spark as we knew her. If anything, it’s somewhat softer, more emotive. The acoustic 'Her' brings the house down, while ‘Try’ is a wonderfully old-school power ballad. There’s still the upbeat side though: the previously released ‘Take It Back’ is an addictive belter, while ‘Which Way Round’ ends the comeback set with style.
But if you’re expecting to hear ‘Revolving’, think again. “‘Revolving’ is in a box. ‘Crave’ I still love but I hated the video for both. I feel like there was a miscommunication with who I am and what I wanted to do and be, and what they [the label] had in their heads… This is what I want to be doing and I’m sure there will be some people saying ‘I don’t like this, sing Revolving’ and I’ll be like ‘sorry babe, no’.”
Eerily enough, Spark remembers a piece from back from ‘Revolving’ came out that mentioned how the song was really about how she was being manipulated like the song’s wind-up doll. “It was maybe my subconscious writing these things and it always happens to me, I write these songs and later on in my life, something happens and I realise I’ve written a song about the exact same situation.”
Song-wise, there’s already enough to fill an album; something that two years early didn’t come close to happening, even though the easier route would have been to finish it. “I got halfway through which was when I got to the point that I was embarrassed by what I was showing to people. I went to the label and said I wanted to start again, and that was the start of the downfall really if you want to call it that.
“It was never what I wanted to do, I fell in love with Joni Mitchell, Tracey Chapman and Sheryl Crow and at the same time, being raised in Walthamstow and exposed to – and loving – hip hop, bashment and grime, that’s what I grew up on. It was meant to be a combination of that. I love these deep and meaningful songs that tell stories and I love skanking it out and breaking it down, but what became wasn’t that.”
Now it’s a case of Spark showing people what she's done and wants to do and working from that, as opposed her adapting to fit an ideal. “I’m not the kind of gal that could fit into a mould. An artist should put out music that they love and are passionate about so that other people can feel that as well, that’s the only way that connection can be made between an artist and the fans. I can’t wait to show people what I’ve been doing because it’s the first time I have music that I’m really proud of. Before, when people didn’t like songs, I was like ‘yeah, I get why’. Now my heart is fully in it and I feel ready.”
Spark is refreshingly honest about the whole experience. “I have left that in the past because I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be, even though I’m not where I want to be right now. It all happened for a reason.”