John “One Stop” Sparkz began his engineering career at sixteen and hasn’t looked back since. With Grammy dreams and a heavyweight set of credits, the self-described workhorse has become a mainstay on the Northeast hip-hop scene, working with Action Bronson and French Montana. We got the story behind the mix and learned how a childhood fascination with computers could lead to a career in the music industry.
What was the driving force behind becoming an engineer?
Since I was a kid, I was always more into why a song sounded like it did rather than the song as a whole. I was always into computers and in high school I took audio recording as a trade at vocational school. It was just something I know I wanted to do so I just sort of took it and ran with it.
How do you stay focused?
Staying focused is actually one of the hardest things for me. Might be a little ADD but I do so much more than just recording and mixing records. Fraud actually gave me the nickname “Frankenstein” and “One Stop” because I do the mixing and engineer part, graphic design, merchandise handling, and pretty much anything. I find the easiest way to stay focused though is just write everything I have to do on a piece of paper and cut my phone off.
What’s it like engineering for Harry Fraud & Surf School?
The work ethic with the whole team is ridiculous. Everyone is doing something at all times, literally. Fraud is a perfectionist and he’s actually a pretty awesome mixer himself, so we work closely on mixing a lot. From the production to the recording to the mixing to the mastering, it’s just all done very meticulous. But, that’s what makes the product that’s being released great.
Tell me how working with Emilio Sparks on an EP was different then what you were used to…
The Forever Madness EP was awesome. Working with Emilio on it was such a different vibe because I was out of my normal engineering point of view working on the beat selection, pairing the artists for each record, and just overall putting it all together. We just took our time with it and had a ton of fun.
In your opinion do you feel you are expected to live a certain lifestyle because you are a part of the music industry?
Of course, it’s crazy now; look on Instagram, if you’re a part of anything in this industry people expect you to be sipping lean, in a club and shit like that. I’m way low-key with everything. I don’t sleep on a normal schedule and my laptop is with me pretty much wherever I go. So, I fall more into the work more and party less category.
If you could change anything about the industry what would it be?
The business aspect. It’s so hard now with social media outlets and YouTube, everyone’s an “engineer.” But, it’s like you don’t perform surgery on your friend because you read about it online. It’s such a hassle sometimes when an artist tries to book me; a lot of them have it backwards and expect free services. I try to work with everyone’s budget but the way some artists handle business is crazy.
Who is your dream artist to work with?
I really can’t pick just one. I’ve accomplished a lot of my “to work with” list. Dream artist though I would have to say in Hip-Hop, 50 Cent. To really stretch out on a limb, I still say I can help John Cena re-amp his Rap career. But overall artist, I would drop what I’m doing and catch the next flight to work on a record with Blink 182.
What are your future plans?
I’m just going to keep working to make myself “the go to hip-hop engineer.” Since I started engineering the golden prize would be a GRAMMY. Even to get nominated would be huge. But, basically anything that involved improving and getting a bigger buzz is cool with me. Since I’m a huge wrestling fan, I also want to participate in one WWE match just to say I did it.