Published: 06:00, 15 September 2021
Medway songwriter and producer Larken Sparks is making waves in the USA after collaborating on a track to celebrate New York graffiti legend Ree II.
Sparks, aka Andy Jupp from Chatham, worked with graffiti historians "Bowery Boogie Uncapped", to make the song - which was presented to Ree II at a show in the Dordor gallery in Brooklyn last month.
The track - Unauthorised Biography of Ree II - is now available to download and stream, with all proceeds donated to breast cancer charites in the UK and US.
And it could be the start of a new chapter in the musical career of the 39-year-old dad of three, who began playing guitar aged 11 and went to Oakwood Park college in Maidstone in 1999 to study music production.
Over the last 20 years Andy has played in a host of bands - including reggae band The Objectors and folk band Tin Foil Hats - while also producing music for other artists in a host of other genres from hard rock to reggae, boom bap, hip-hop to folk.
It's that wealth of musical knowledge, and his breadth of influences which meant he was ideally placed to take a new direction when Coronavirus forced musicians away from the stage and into their home studios.
"When Lockdown 1.0 happened our new band Hot Duchess split and so I decided to branch out and start creating beats," said Andy, who also realised he could record most instruments needed himself. "So I created Larken Sparks as a solo project."
Creating a track for New York sports brand Crimefaces helped Andy gather more attention from would-be collaborators, while he's also able to call upon Kent musicians like Jim White, Jason Crispe and Ryan Harvey to add further elements to his tracks.
Andy added: "With the original beats I created I had the opportunity to remix a track for Roots Manuva. I was then asked to create the podcast theme for New York based Podcast 'Bowery Boogie Uncapped', a podcast charting and interviewing legends in the New York graffiti scene. The creator of the podcast, Rebel Knowledge, was so impressed with the podcast theme she asked if I would edit her podcast weekly."
From the back of that came a project with world-renowned artist Adrian Wilson, who asked Andy to help create an original piece of music and video charting he's work over the last 30 years - work which has included selling the world's most expensive skateboard and spraying New York garbage with catchy and controversial slogans.
Then six months ago Rebel Knowledge asked Andy to team up with New York graffiti artist & MC Frankie Botz, as well as Spainish producer Atom 3.25, to create an original track celebrating the life and work of Ree-II.
The celebrated graffiti maestro got to hear the track in person at the Dordor Gallery, and although The Chatham musician was unable to attend the show he was able to watch a live stream of Frankie Botz performing accompanied by a music video Andy created.
He added: "I honestly couldn't have imagined that I would be able to work with some many great artists and gain so much attention. What started out as a way of keeping my musical interest afloat has turned into a pathway to potentially some really exciting projects.
"The highlight for me so far was definitely watching the live stream in New York. Watching Frankie Botz perform the track overseas and seeing all those people enjoy it and singing along was a great feeling. As well as making some amazing friends in the process. It was a bit surreal hearing a track I had created and produced being played in a respectable gallery."
And that performance is far from the end of his musical journey, as Andy has also gained the attention of Hollywood producer & director Ethan Maniquis, known for his work on Machete & Sin City fame.
"He originally wanted to use some of our old music on a new film he is making," explained Andy. "He liked the reggae work with the Objectors and instead of using old tracks we have decided to reform the group, for studio purposes at the moment, to record a 4 track e.p especially for the film. The current set up is myself Russ Pring, Matt Fullagar & Jim White who are all Medway residents."
To listen to more of Larken Sparks' work , search for him on YouTube or click here.