Editorial by Nick Woolley
Nice Guys Finish First.
The Internet since it's conception has been a double edged sword. Yes - not only did we receive the miracles of social media, file sharing, and a worldwide platform for artists; but we also inherited the pitfalls. Music is now devalued to less than a cup of coffee, content can be easily downloaded and abused, and last but not least: the barrage of egos, and fake facades masked by online monikers. Amongst the evolving chaos over the course of the last half decade, here is a story where nice-guys finish first.
Antonio Cuna is the epitome of how to stay above the fray, and stands out as not only one of LA's prominent producers, but also one of the most genuinely sincere people you'll meet. Constantly smiling, Antonio - who goes by Sweater Beats - carries himself humbly. Growing up in LA, his musical background stems from working in various, as he referred to, "Emo bands" throughout high school. He noted it wasn't until his friends began going off to college that he was left without a drummer, and began composing music on the computer.
"That was like 5-6 years ago. I started on some obscure software from Bestbuy like Cakewalk, and then moved on to Ableton - cause I saw Daft Punk uses Ableton. Ableton all day! Represent!"
Cuna notes Daft Punk as one of his major inspirations. But beyond the external influences, growing up in a Filipino household, he was ingrained with a love for other forms of music as well.
"We love our R&B. At least growing up my sister and my cousin listened to all that stuff. And we love our karaoke, so music was always in our family." He laughed as he spoke, reflecting back on his childhood. "My cousin who used to be a singer in a pop group based out of DC, they always used to have MTV on with music videos playing like TLC, or Genuine and I didn't know anything about that. So yeah, my family definitely injected my brain with that part of me."
You can hear the blend of these genres as you listen to some of his recent work, like his praised "Cloud City" EP release. Combinations of smooth piano and melodic vocal accompaniment play off gunshot high hat patterns and bassey electronic influences. But in this age of the Internet, even Cuna admits he draws influence regularly from this new digital landscape.
"I hope I have my own sound. But I can't deny I am influenced by all sort of elements and producers, and that all boils down into my sound. I think I am finally finding my own place within the music spectrum though... I’m growing more and more in tune with what I want in my music, which always has me researching both old and new music."
Cuna, is an early adopter of a lot of the benefits of the internet, garnering a heavy online following not only on social media outlets but Soundcloud and other media players as well. As someone who has researched music regularly, it turns out SEO (Search Engine Optimization) even played a part in the now iconic Sweater Beats alias.
"I used to go by "Sweaters" 'cause... I liked... sweaters.... for some reason. But you couldn't Google me, so I added "beats" to the name. That's really it."
In the age of the Internet it is possible for nice-guys to finish first, and Antonio Cuna is a shining example. His curiosity for learning and constantly growing his sound, paired with a humility rarely found in musicians with his accolades, have perpetuated Sweater Beats to being a heavy hitter on the LA music scene. With the likes of Myspace dead and buried, and new forms of social media as well as sharing platforms popping up everyday, Cuna stands as an exception to the old adage offering an elevated blend of electronic, R&B and hip-hop music.
We strongly recommend downloading his "Cloud City" EP for free. Click HERE to download.