On a cold night in Minnesota, Sweater Beats looked to live up to his name and bring the heat while performing at the legendary First Avenue & 7th St Entry in downtown Minneapolis. Before he took to the stage, I had a chance to sit down with Sweater Beats (aka Antonio). We talked about his current tour, the new EP, and the musical elements that make Sweater Beats.
With name like Sweater Beats, it seemed too good to be true that the final stretch of his “For The Cold” tour seemed to take place at Northern cities on Fall/Winter dates. “That wasn't planned.” Sweater Beats laughed, “But with “For The Cold”, it definitely feels appropriate and I'm enjoying it!”. The “For The Cold” tour is Sweater Beats first live set. I asked how the tour has been going so far. “It's been awesome, it's been amazing, it's been tiring,” he laughed “but it feels really good to get back up on stage and do what I really want, 100% Sweater Beats”.
Video Credit: Gabriel Tiano Photography
For those who aren't familiar, Sweater Beats' sound is one that can't be defined. Listen to a Sweater Beats track and you're sure to hear some Future Bass, Trap, Electro, Hip Hop, Indie, even a splash of Nu Disco.
Would you have gotten tired of the scene if you stayed tied down to one genre?
“I like to experiment with different types of music and try to find my sound at the same time. I try to keep looking for cool sounds to keep growing on. To stay in the game you don't necessarily do every genre, but you have to allow yourself to grow sonically. I like the struggle of finding that new thing and keeping it fresh.”
Is there a genre that you’re really into right now? Not necessarily for your sound, but what you see yourself listening to at the moment?
“I listen to so much Electronic Music. On my down time, I like to go back and listen to Indie Rock, like Death Cab and Taking Back Sunday. I listen to what got me to where I am. It's nostalgic. I also listen to a lot of the West Coast beats.”
The “For The Cold” EP is out. Both tracks (“Did You Wrong” and “Better”) are getting a ton of love. Personally, I dig the variety of sound and of course the vocals in “Better”. How did that one come to be?
“I wrote that song with Nicole Millar. I started it, then we wrote it together later. We were having trouble trying to find a second verse, but the main thing was we wanted to make it a duet. We had my homie Imad (Royal) do it, and he slayed it. We were thinking about finding a rapper and doing it that way, but Imad has a good balance of singing and rapping. It was a good balance of those two on that track plus a little bit of Rock N Roll.”
Sweater Beats first started his music career by being the guitarist in an Emo band in high school. His live tour is now a one-man-show featuring him playing guitar, the drum pads, and on the decks.
Do you ever picture yourself performing a set with a full live band again? Or do you like the freedom of doing the instrumentals on your own?
“I would love to get a whole band up there! Especially having a singer, with some back up singers too. Having a drummer on stage hitting my beats would be phenomenal. Just having a presence on the drums adds a whole new level.”
You’ve mentioned in the past that Timbaland and Pharrell are big influences, is that because you have similar tastes musically?
“Yeah. I love Timbaland's production and the way he manipulates odd sounds. I think he was one of the first people to experiment with the sample of a baby crying (Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody). The most random things that make the hottest shit! I look up to him and Pharrell. They're both from Virginia Beach too. With how much they've evolved over the years and still staying relevant, if I could be 10% of what they've become I'd be happy.”
You’ve produced a lot of great tracks with up & coming Hip Hop artists. Is this a way of showing your love for the underground Hip Hop scene?
“I love working with vocalists. It doesn't matter if you've got a hit already or if you don't even have one track on Soundcloud. If I can fuck with your sound or fuck with your voice, and we're going to make something cool, it doesn't matter to me. We can make some great things together.”
You listened to Green Day and Taking Back Sunday during your middle school and high school years. Do you ever catch yourself randomly listening to some of those throwbacks?
“Oh for sure! I'm super bias about Emo music now. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing, but it's definitely gotten me through some things. It taught me how to be okay with being sad.”
Besides the tour, what’s new with Sweater Beats? Still grindin' in the studio?
“After the tour I'm pretty much heading straight back to the studio. Writing new music, finishing up a new EP for Big Beat, which will come out at the top of the year. I've got a lot of sessions lined up and I'm looking forward to some new things in 2017.”
Finally – you recently posted the lyric video to “Did You Wrong” yesterday, and mentioned it’s the perfect Karaoke Bar song. Besides “Did You Wrong”, what’s your favorite Karaoke Song?
“Oh man haha! It would probably be Weezer. Because you can sing along and you don't have to be really great at singing, but you can still let your heart out.”
Sweater Beats then went out to perform his live set. As expected, the crowd was loving the diversity of music. He even got his Rock N' Roll moment when he got within arms-reach of the crowd for his final guitar solo, causing the fan in front of him to cry.. And yes, in case you're wondering, there was a Weezer song in the mix (“The Sweater Song” of course)!
I'd like to thank Sweater Beats for taking the time for this interview. This guy was one of the most humble and chill artists around! You can catch Sweater Beats last stop of the “For The Cold” tour in Portland on December 16th. Don't forget to check out the “For The Cold” EP, out now!