Rain was predicted for Los Angeles that October night, but the crescendo of rhythmic bass from the El Rey Theater blew those heavy clouds away. Having opened up for big acts like Purity Ring, Chance the Rapper, Flume and Chet Faker, Antonio Cuna, better known as his stage name Sweater Beats, embarks on his debut tour “For the Cold,” titled after his latest EP.
The El Rey Theater stage was set up with an elaborate on-stage barrier decked with LED lights and a familiar DJ layout. As his first headlining tour, Sweater Beats first seemed a bit shy with a distant demeanor, which many fans found charming, cheering him on with “Get it Pinoy!” or just simply chanting “Sweaters!”
Although many DJs are often criticized for just pressing play to their pre-recorded music and never looking back, Sweater Beats played live for the audience, even performing on a guitar and drums. Performing "Better," he closed the gap between the crowd and himself, creating a more intimate environment.
The heavy hitter came with “Do It For Me,” combining a hip-swaying R&B melody with sultry guitar riffs, bridging the gap between EDM, R&B, and rock ballad all in one. Rather than sticking to just his machinery, Sweater Beats flows toward a more organic sound with his instruments with his live one man band performances.
Even though it was hard to follow up after his popular remix of “Hey Ya,” surprise guest MAX, who provided the vocals for Sweater’s new single “Did You Wrong,” burst onto stage. Surprisingly, the highlight was not just hitting and sustaining his high notes with clarity, but finishing off the song by doing the splits. Sweater Beats’ show in Los Angeles exemplifies his growth and diversification of sound.
APA had the opportunity to chat with Sweater Beats on his new album, his tour, and his inspirations.
What inspired you to make music? I understand you started off in a different genre before moving into EDM and hip-hop.
I started out playing other people’s songs when I was in bands, playing stuff like Blink 182 covers… Just jamming with my friends and playing original music felt better than playing other people’s music, so it just kept going from there.
What’s the story behind the name "Sweater Beats"?
When I first started making music I went by “I Sweat Everybody,” which I thought was funny, but after a little while, I shortened it to just “Sweaters. But if you’ve ever tried Googling “Sweaters,” a million things come up, so I added “Beats” at the end, so people could find me more easily and because I make beats.
Previously you’ve performed with Flume and Chance the Rapper. How do you feel about your first tour?
These are definitely my favorite shows. It feels amazing to play these shows and know that everyone there is there to see me and hear my music. These are my fans, and it really warms my heart.
Even though it rarely is the weather for wearing sweaters in Los Angeles, is there anything about Los Angeles that inspires you?
Oh yeah, it’s the birthplace of the beat scene and that’s always been a big inspiration. Los Angeles is definitely a hub for a lot of music, from the most underground stuff to mainstream pop. It feels good to be in the thick of things.
Do you have a favorite sweater?
My favorite sweater is my “No Face” sweater. “No Face” is a character from the movie Spirited Away by one of my favorite creators, Hayao Miyazaki. I don’t wear it a ton, but it’s definitely my favorite.
Compared to "Cloud City," what can listeners expect from your upcoming "For The Cold" EP?
I definitely explore a lot more of the pop sound. Every song has a vocal feature on it. I really wanted to make less of a “dance music” project and instead, lean on songwriting, hooks, choruses and not just focus on the buildup and drop.