Dressed in white, with a cold beer in hand, Brooklyn-based performer Chrome Sparks a.k.a Jeremy Malvin spent a few moments winding down after his performance at Mamby on the Beach on Sunday. Malvin, who got his start as a DJ here in Chicago stuck around after his set for an interview. Known for his unique ability to meld driven beats with synthesizers and effortlessly smooth dance vibes, Malvin creates music that is both sophisticated and sexy – despite his most widely recognized song being titled “Marijuana.”
How has your background as a classical percussionist made your music unique?
I think for anyone who studies music in school, there’s an academic aspect to it that can then carry over into whatever else it is you do – be it DJing, writing your own music, or playing for other people. I think you learn discipline that isn’t actually specific to studying music.
I think if you study anything or any other art form, you can take that discipline and use it for something else. What I got out of being a percussionist was goal oriented practicing and discipline. Maybe not something so much that affected my sound as it affected the way that I do things.
I know you have a pretty eclectic background. Can you briefly describe your journey from school to where you are today?
Well, I started playing drums in bands when I was really young, just for fun. Then I studied classical percussion and went to college for it for a couple of years before I started touring and playing drums for bands. At a certain point, I decided that I wanted to focus on my own music.
Can you tell me about the Lollapalooza DJ competition?
Oh yeah! That was here! That was about a year after I started trying to DJ, and I made it somehow through to the final round off of my remixes. Then the final round was a live DJ battle, and I kind of bombed. I mean I wasn’t very good at beat-matching or anything like that. I just really didn’t know what I was doing.
I had to play for a live audience and it was fun… I remember it was like 15 minutes and I got passes to Lollapalooza, I got some nice headphones and there were good prizes, but there was no way I was going to win that. It was a great experience. And that year that I went to Lollapalooza was my first music festival, too, so because of it, I went to a music festival for the first time.
Do you think that motivated you to work harder and to grow as a performer?
No, I don’t think I felt that way. I was more just kind of shocked and entertained at the whole idea that I made it into the final round of a DJ battle without really knowing how to DJ.
You have such a unique sound. How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
*Laughs* – I would not do that. I would ask them to listen to it. I get really annoyed by people spewing out genres. One song might be house, and one song might be what someone would call beat music, you know? That’s an impossible question to answer.
It has been a while since you released anything new. What can your fans expect from your upcoming music?
I’ve got an album coming out with Counter Records next year.
Can you tell us a little bit about the concept? Is there anything we should expect?
Got it. It’s a secret. Your set today was a blast and you drew in a huge crowd! What the main thing you want to get across with your live performances?
You know, people paid to get in here. I want them to have an experience that is worth their hard-earned money and that lives up to their expectations – and maybe even exceeds them.