If you’re a fan of feel-good music, you’re probably a fan of Shwayze. The Los Angeles native is best known for his 2008 viral smash, “Buzzin’” and “Corona & Lime,” both of which earned him international recognition and took him around the world. Talk about timeless music: one decade later, both songs still hit home every time they’re played.
Shwayze is all about good vibrations, positive energy, and living life in the present moment… which is exactly the energy you get from his music. His outlook on life is one that is much appreciated, with mental health playing a huge role in all facets of his life and career. Plus, his contributions to the genre of reggae and alternative rock have paved the way for many aspiring musicians to also go after it and chase their dreams.
Fast forward to 2022, Shwayze returns with his highly-anticipated new album called Shway SZN, spearheaded by lead single “Tides” featuring Pepper and Slightly Stoopid. The 12-track project arrives in perfect timing, the perfect soundtrack for any summer to come.
Sheen caught up with Shwayze in downtown Los Angeles to discuss his new project, relationship with Slightly Stoopid, tour life, the importance in mental health, wanting to act, and more!
I saw your epic album release party, how was that? It was in Malibu right?
Yeah, it was fun. It was cool. I wasn’t even going to do a party, but you know what, I’m really proud of this project. It really encompasses what I’ve been doing the last 10 years. I added some new reggae on top of what I’ve been doing. I got a little beach rental, had 60 of my family and friends came. It was great, good times.
What is Shway SZN?
My friends call me Shway. There’s so many different variations of my name: Shwayze, Shway, Shwasted. For this project, I dropped 5 singles in the summer. But I dropped the album last weekend, so it was heading into the fall. Whenever you put this shit on, it’s Shway SZN. That’s what the vibe is. Wherever you are, you put this shit on and it brings you back to that summer feel.
Talk about “TIDES” with Pepper and Slightly Stoopid, that’s legendary.
It’s full circle because when I started getting into the music scene, my music wasn’t 100% hip-hop or 100% rock. It was a medley of a bunch of different genres. What tied it together was this feel-good vibe. When I first started, my first tour I ever went on was Vans Warped Tour. That was my first introduction to tour. After that, who do we know to play with that makes sense? Is it the hip-hop guys?
Pepper and Slightly Stoopid were some of the first acts I went on tour with after the Warped Tour. It made the most sense, even though they’re reggae. 10 years later, I’ve obviously remained friends with them. On the project, I made an effort to say let’s go reggae. Let’s go Cali reggae, not too crazy reggae. I’m still making pop music, but wanted to have that flare to it so I had to reach out to my boys. That helped introduce me to the scene in the first place. That record’s a classic, it means a lot because of the history of It. I love those dudes, still supporting after all these years.
Did you learn anything from going on tour with them?
Slightly Stoopid especially, I learned how to tour. Touring can be monotonous, you do the same shit everyday. You play a show, then wake up in a new city. You go to soundcheck, then play the show. These dudes after every show, they have a big tent. They have a barbecue, they just live life. This is my second tour ever. They’ve spent so much time on the road, they know how to travel and make it a fun life. I’ve tried to implement that in my own tour. I’ve been working out, been trying to hit dope restaurants. Hit local little spots.
Also one thing I learned is when I do soundcheck, I usually only check one or two songs. These cats, Slightly Stoopid soundcheck for two hours. They get there at noon and they jam. They play a full show for two hours. I’m like, why do you do that? They’re like “bro, my favorite part of the day is playing music. We can get up there and jam.” Now you see me all in soundcheck, I’m up there for an hour. They’re like you done yet?
I get shook when artists don’t do soundcheck.
To each its own. That’s why people complain about hip hop shows, they say it sounds like shit.
To me they’re rapping over their own lyrics.
Exactly, that part! Rapping over their own lyrics and people have mics. To me, attention to sound and detail has been my #1 thing for a show.
How was this last tour?
It was crazy, it was really good. I went everywhere. I was in Colorado, I was in Kansas.
Colorado must’ve been lit and full of smoke.
Oh beautiful, Colorado was great. I was thinking about who got mad at me for smoking on stage? Better not have been Colorado.
Did you have to put the blunt out?
Security came on stage, I took one more hit like take It.
They don’t know Shwayze and what you’re about?!
That’s literally what I said after. Bro, this is the Shwayze show right? You know what you signed up for. The tour was good though. I went out with this group called Ballyhoo! I haven’t toured traditionally like this in a minute since my son was born.
How old is he?
He’s 11 now. Now he’s a grown man, but at the beginning I was anti-touring. I remember coming on one tour and my boy was walking. He wasn’t walking, then he’s walking. At the airport, he walked up to me. Now, he’s 11. He has a cell phone and we can communicate about when I leave town and when I’m coming back in town, so I think it’s time for me to get back out there full force in support of this new project.
Is he following your steps at all?
Not right now, but he has a lot of interest in music. He’s naturally good at music, you can tell. He’s humming shit, he’s on key. I’m not even on key, I need autotune. He’s not really fully 100% following it, but I’m not pushing it. I’m letting him do what he does and see what happens.
How important is mental health for you?
It’s super important. Early on back when I started making music, I didn’t understand the importance of my music per se, or music in general. I made music because it was fun and I was having a good time. Someone came up to me early on in my career and told me my music helped them fight depression. That really opened my eyes because I still remember that conversation.
I was tripping because I’m talking about having fun, being on the beach and chasing chicks. But the fact that it’s medicine for someone else. Not just mine, but all music and all entertainment almost can be. I’m very blessed to be in something that can help people get through things. I’m glad mental health is being touched on more now, especially in the black community. As a black man, it’s not cool to have to go see a therapist.
Do you go to therapy?
No it’s not cool. [laughs] Just kidding. I just started talking to one because I like the idea of getting shit out. Music is therapy for me. If I’m going through some shit, yeah I’ll make a song about it, but then it’s done. I don’t relisten to that song for therapy, but someone else might listen to that song over and over. It’s a weird cycle: it’s therapy for me to put it out, but then it’s therapy for someone else to listen to it. It’s interesting, but I do want to talk to someone to have that unbiased opinion. Just to run shit through.
I know you meditate. How long do you meditate for?
About 20 minutes in the morning and at night. Right when I wake up, I do a little meditation. At night, I stretch and meditate. Every night, I stretch.
I’ve been wanting to implement that.
For me, my body literally talks to me like “time to stretch.” I’ll be watching some shit, I’m like oh shit. You know what, you’re right. Let me get it. Before you know it, you slowly make progress and you go to sleep so nice.
What else do you do for self-care?
This is probably not a general answer, but I smoke. I decompress after a long day. Also massages.
What’re you most excited for next?
I’m shooting my shot on the acting shit. I have a couple of things developing, but you’ll see your boy on the screen more. I had a couple episodes in this show called Lincoln Lawyer on Netflix, so go peep that. I love to act and hope to be doing that a lot more. I’m going to start touring a lot more, I’ma try to hit every city. I have a whole new agent, a whole squad.
This album I am very proud of because every song to me is a hit. I’m coming into this scene and bringing life to this Cali reggae scene. The funny thing about it, there’s only a certain amount of bands in this scene. A lot of the festivals have the same acts, which is beautiful! But I plan to me more apart or it. My music is a gray area. Why am I competing over here with the biggest names in pop and or hip- hop, It’s organic for me to make this transition. What I did with this album, I made it really accessible. I made it more pop, hip-hop, mixed with that Cali reggae vibe . I’m really excited. I’m excited for everyone to listen, I’m going to be touring this album the next year.