Diversity and art fuel each other, and the best of humanity is often the sum of this equation. Case in point: “Band Together to Banish Bullying” (sponsored by Epiduo), a campaign that’s bringing together a clutch of recording acts to stand against bullying.
Bullying has rushed to the fore of the cultural conversation in the last decade, almost omnipresent in the media today when talking about school-age children and young adults. Thankfully, some of those conversations have included activist undercurrents, and “Band Together to Banish Bullying” is one of best ones around.
Clinton Sparks, The Mowgli’s, and Kylie Morgan―hailing from hip-hop, alternative, and country respectively―are coming together to write a song for the “Band Together” project. What’s interesting about the song is that it will draw its content from submissions from the youth themselves. Kids and teenagers have been asked to submit lyrics, stories, art and any other kind of material that inspires them.
Clinton Sparks, known through a miscellany of formats (producer, radio host, presenter, songwriter, performer), has made quite a career for himself in 10 years. With remixes, mixtapes and arranging for both the underground and mainstream popular music spheres, Sparks has channeled his uniqueness into his art. “When I tried to start making music, no one would listen or pay attention to me. I needed to learn, and had to learn, to become this person to play my own records on the radio.”
Sparks has taken “Band Together to Banish Bullying” to heart. The Massachusetts native struggled to find his place in his adolescence. “I didn’t have any friends or fit in, a bunch of bullies in my neighborhood made it rough. It’s what made me partner up with music because I didn’t fit in.”
Sparks’s earlier experiences with bullying allowed him to empower himself and supercharge his own cool: “I was subject to ridicule because people didn’t understand my thought processes. When you’re young, you’re shown ‘Here’s what’s cool!’ and if you don’t fit in those boxes then you’re kinda like, ‘Damn, I don’t fit in that box, I’m not cool.’ Hopefully my involvement [with 'Band Together to Banish Bullying'] will show that your style is cool. If you think it’s cool, it’s cool and that is the message I want to send! It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.”
Sparks also thinks that this campaign will facilitate an educational―and healing―dialogue between victims and bullies. “One of the main issues that needs to be tackled is consequence. They’re [kids] not old enough to experience or get it yet, why it [bullying] isn’t cool and how hurtful it is. I want them to look at life differently, that’s my agenda with this campaign to show them how bullying hurts them and others.”
Clinton Sparks is in tune with music being the language that unites people. As an ambassador of modern music, Sparks knows the influence of a good melody, a clever lyric, and a hearty beat. “Music is so imperative to the world we live in; you see all races, all ages, all economic backgrounds and everyone’s there to just enjoy music. I’ve always been that guy who listened to everything, rock music, rap music, pop music! That’s the common denominator and that’s why creating this song for ‘Band Together’ is about making music that people need.”
While music culture has certainly veered close to a genre-less melting pot in decades past, now more than ever it seems that social and digital media are trying to break down walls between audiences. Sparks commented on these changes: “There will always be genres because you need to identify things. However, people won’t be identified by [the] genres they listen to. When it comes to shows, it’s so different now. All these types of festivals, you see all these artists from everywhere and everyone is just partying to it all.”
Sparks is currently preparing for his new musical project, with him as the face, boldly and aptly titled ICONoclast. With its release impending, Sparks elaborated on how embracing his diversity empowered him to take his various artistic guises and utilize them all. “When I was putting ICONoclast together, one of the biggest problems I saw was how the Clinton Sparks brand had many different parts that were confusing to some. I came up with the title to unify my brand and represent being rebellious; I want to change their [listeners'] traditional institution of thought too. I have this platform of how to define me, not to be bound by genres, rules or it has to be done that way. I’ve always crossed genres and boundaries and I am genuine to it all.”
Clinton Sparks is one of the vibrant faces to represent the anti-bullying movement. His own story shows that individuality, when harnessed with fearlessness and empathy, can be wielded to be an example for others. As a part of Epiduo’s “Band Together to Banish Bullying,” Clinton Sparks is sure to reach wider audiences where it matters most: in their hearts.