by Alexa Grayson
From Northeastern’s intimate AfterHours to the electric stage of the Royale, Zoe Sparks lights up stages and moves crowds with her music. Her pop-funk and R&B sound shines through her songs and is especially apparent in her new single, “All The Things You’re Not.”
Since moving to Boston from Los Angeles in 2018, Sparks has lit up the local music scene. Sparks fell in love with music at a very young age and honed in on her passion for songwriting, singing, and bass performance when she enrolled at Berklee.
“When I started writing songs for real, it was when I got to college. It kind of took me a while to figure out where I wanted to go with it… like what my songwriting direction was,” Sparks said. “I got to college, moved across the country, and I just started writing songs.”
Sparks has written and performed original songs in various venues across Boston, including the Royale, where she opened for one of her favorite bands, Lawrence, on Nov. 12, 2021. At the concert, Sparks and her band decided to play a slow song at the last minute.
“We started singing and people were talking through it and then halfway through it, the room was silent,” Sparks said. “That’s always a good test of the audience — to see if they’ll sit through a song that’s slow and quiet. And moments like that make me feel good.”
Sparks’ love for songwriting resulted in her releasing her debut EP, I Need a Win, on July 30, 2021. Her EP features six original songs that showcase her range in lyricism,
musicality, and dedication to authenticity. Songs on the EP include “I Need a Win,” “Why’d It Have to Be You?,” “IDC,” “Got It Bad,” “Sober,” and “Something That’s Already Gone.”
Sparks named the EP based on its central theme of wanting a “win,” or wanting something good to happen when going through difficult times, especially in the midst of the pandemic. The song’s relatable lyrics transcend through the entire album, as the songs follow the themes of navigating love, life, and all that comes with it.
“Before I started writing it [the EP], I didn’t really know what it was going to be called, and then I realized I had all these songs around that central theme,” Sparks said. “It’s just a cool way to explore why I was feeling so mad and hurt about so many things. All the songs are very different, but it’s still kind of cohesive in that way.”
Sparks released a new single, “All The Things You’re Not,” on May 27. The release comes just in time to prepare for those classic long summer car rides where fans can scream-sing the track’s ultra-relatable lyrics. Sparks describes the song as “super upbeat,” “fun,” and “very funky,” and looks forward to performing release shows throughout the summer.
To kick off the release, Sparks hosted a release show on May 26 in Boston. Since then, Sparks has held release shows at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC and at the Brooklyn Bowl in Philadelphia, and has an upcoming show at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on July 9.