Radar Band Of The Week – No. 22: Spark

Spark – one part Brian Harvey to two parts Kate (Bush and Nash)

In a world populated by Peaches, Palomas and Pixies, it’s not too shocking to learn that London’s latest cred-pop hopeful’s middle name is Sparkle. “I was born in water, and my dad said that when I was born I sparkled,” grins 18-year-old Walthamstow lass Jess Morgan. “He wanted it to be my first name, but my mum was like, ‘No’.” Finding the stage name then for her Edith Piaf-meets-Beyoncé down the Lee Valley ice rink act was a darn sight more straightforward than picking “something random, like Flower or Lamppost”. Quite.

Despite looking gothier than Zola Jesus before she partied with the bleach bottle – when NME meets this perpetually perky starlet, she’s rocking black leather trousers, raven hair, ruby lips and smudged kohl-heavy eyes – she’s a bona fide Top 10 contender. With the prerequisite Brit School background, Spark was primed for pop from a young age, not least because she grew up around the corner from legendary prize plum, Brian Harvey.

So she’s not too young to have missed out on the charms of East 17, then. “Hell no!” she shrieks. A treasured Harvey memory of hers is seeing him play the big man down the corner shop when she was a kid. “He was buying something and was like, ‘Keep the change’ to the guy and then looked at me like, ‘I’m Brian Harvey!’” Spark’s eyes become misty. “I was like, ‘Woah’!”

Penning songs since the age of 12, she was signed at 16, by A&R bigwig Dougie Bruce – the man who bagged Kate Nash, Lily Allen and Adele. Yet her moment of Damascene enlightenment didn’t come until the end of last year when she performed Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ at a school show. Switching around her sound to reflect her new-found love of all things strange and synthy, tracks like the glam bass banger of forthcoming single ‘Revolving’ – out on the ever-excellent Neon Gold label – came thick and fast.

With just one solo gig under her belt, the fast-mover headed out on tour with Marina & The Diamonds the day after she left school and nabbed a record deal soon after. Don’t be surprised if Spark’s chart domination comes just as quickly.

Need To Know

• Her favourite game is Monopoly. She never loses and claims that she doesn’t cheat. “I’m just super good”

• Spark is whittling down from 20 tracks for her debut album, due for release next year. “I have too many songs,” she tells us. “I need to stop writing”

• Despite naming her Jess Sparkle Morgan, her parents aren’t hippies. Apparently she gets asked that a lot


This article originally appeared in the October 16 issue of NME

Subscribe here and get NME for £1 a week, or get this week’s digital issue