The Philippines and suburban Maryland aren’t exactly R&B or dance music hot beds, but they didn’t need to be for Antonio Cuna, aka Sweater Beats, to ingest both genres and spit out an exciting hybrid, melding the sensuality of contemporary R&B with the immediacy of dance music.
We sat down with the Los Angeles-based, 29 year old DJ/Producer minutes before he kicked off his six-week tour, The Sleepover Tour, with Gnash, WRENN, MAX and a plethora of other special guests.
Liz for Magnetic Magazine: Thanks for chatting with me today! There are a lot of people back here tonight. Do you know all these guys you’re touring with?
Sweater Beats: Yeah. It's really awesome. It was one of the perks when they proposed this tour for me in January. I had just gotten off another six week tour and was like I don't want to do this again but then they were like dude, Max is going to be on it, Imad is going to be on it. Gnash is huge. I was like amazing. They said it would be really good.
MM: Nice! So this is your first night on the road. Any surprises in store for tonight’s show in San Francisco?
SB: Oh man, I'm going to be doing this on all the shows but, I think a lot of people think I'm just a regular DJ set, but I have little surprises. I have a song with Imad so he's going to go and sing on that. Also with MAX so he's going to end my set with the song that we did together. Then I have a guitar with me so I get to play a little bit for the crowd.
MM: I heard somewhere that one of your biggest inspirations was the song Pony by Ginuwine. What was it about that 90's tune inspired you?
SB: The groove. It's got such a good vibe. I like the sound design especially. I read his autobiography to find out how he came up with that sound, with like just the vocoder and the layers. I've been trying for years to recreate that sound but to no avail. Yeah, my whole goal is just to make something like Pony.
MM: It’s a super sexy song.
SB: It is super sexy. A lot of it is production but, Ginuwine, he's a sexy man with a sexy voice, and it's just a good song. No matter where I am, no matter what show I play, every time I play it it goes off. It's just so universal, that feeling.
MM: Completely. That’s the R&B element you’re looking to infuse into your dance sets.
MM: So what are three words that you use to describe your own personal sound?
SB: Oh man. Um, emotional. I think I would call my music emotional bangers or adventure pop, kind of thing, you know? I take you on a ride and you’ll feel some things along the way.
MM: What about collaborations? You’ve supported and appeared on tracks with Chance the Rapper, Flume, Chet Faker, Manila Killa, Jai Wolf and Gallant, to name a few. That’s a really talented roster! Who are you looking to collaborate with next?
SB: Always my dream has been Pharrell, but also I love Kimbra, so I'm really trying hard to have her on the track. I'm also a big fan of Charli XCX. I love her vibe so yeah, those are my dream collabs.
MM: I also read that you're from the Philippines, born there right? And then moved to D.C., New York and now living in LA. Do you think that where you've lived has influenced your music?
SB: Absolutely. Yeah. I think the general energy of each city, like New York and LA have different energies. I think I wrote darker or more you know, dense music living in New York just because of the city. In LA I think I write happier and more popular music. It's just the weather and the people and yeah.
MM: It's all the sunshine, that’ll do it to you.
SB: Exactly. I'd be like I really don't want to write this sad song right now.
MM: Any advice for up and coming producers, or those who are just starting out making their own music?
SB: Yeah. I used to be in bands and I used to have a four track tape recorder. I guess that's the genesis of me trying to produce and make music and record it. I've just been doing this for years and I only recently started making music on a computer. I use the ableton all day so producers out there, you know, Sweater Beats approved, just go with ableton because that's the best thing to make awesome, weird music.
MM: Perfect. What can we expect to hear from you in 2017?
SB: Oh, new song coming actually next week called Alter and it features this singer from Nashville called R.LUM.R, he's an amazing singer. Yeah, after that I'm going to be consistently putting out singles and remixes until I'm confident enough that I can a cohesive album. Right now just singles and more music and more tour.
MM: And hopefully some collaborations with Kimbra.
SB: Yes, totally, coming down the pipeline.