Sonic Gospel

At a recent party in Rangsit, Sparo was performing in the middle of a tight crowd with everyone all sweaty and bouncing in full, joyful rage mode. “I was playing a brand new song. I introduced it, like, this is really different but I hope you’ll fuck with it,” the young rapper says a few days later while eating ice cream and dressed in all black. “But the crowd was lit! They’ve been giving me that energy for my whole set for the last three performances. It’s pretty new to me.” His sound is diverse—ranging from acoustic to spacey vibes—but he’s mainly catching attention for a mournful type of indy club pop, featuring skittering drum n bass with moody sing-song lyrics that alternately float and stutter in rhythmic fashion.

Sparo was born and raised in Bangkok and just graduated high school. “People at my school pretty much only listened to generic pop stuff,” he says. But he had one schoolmate named Grey Marilyn who also makes music and the two of them started messing around with recordings on a phone a couple of years ago. Since it’s an international school, everyone speaks English, as does his dad, who’s from Ireland, so writing lyrics in English comes naturally to him. “Thai is still my first language,” he says. “But it’s easier to express myself in music with English.”

He knew he wanted to make something different from what most Thai rappers were doing, and he started looking for beats on YouTube that matched his vision. Eventually he found Canadian producer Tykun, who was posting stuff under “Pink Pantheress-type beats.” “I don’t think it sounds anything like her music,” he laughs. But the lofi dnb beats were exactly the type of melodic thing he was looking for. A few months ago, they dropped a track together called “Falling Apart,” which was the first time Sparo started to gain some recognition. Tykun now produces most of his music.

Around the same time Sparo dropped “Falling Apart,” he also started performing. He’s done about 20 shows in the past six months, with half of them at Red Corner, where he performed the new track to a wild crowd. It’s an intimate spot that holds about 50 people and they host rap performances from the underground community nearly every week. “Lately people have started to learn the lyrics to my music and are singing along in English. It’s a magical experience,” he says.

Most of the artists performing in Sparo’s orbit tend to stick to a drill-style template, but he says that he sees a more experimental side starting to bubble up. He mentions a couple of other, more popular artists who dabble in club sounds like Percy, 4ourYou, and 7fifty, but he thinks that his style still stands out as unique. “I see people discovering the underground scene now, and I hope my sound will introduce people to these new ideas and help familiarize them with a different sound so it grows more.”