Words & Interview: Alex Khatchadourian
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard something new from the Bay Area-native, but LA-based rapper Antwon has now offered up a new mixtape entitled Sunnyvale Gardens, as a follow up to last year's Double Ecstasy EP, and a precursor to his upcoming album, Downtown Tony.
The 14-track project, which features a handful of notable names including Lil Peep, Shlomo, Kaytranada, and Andre Martel, is a perfect depiction of the sort of inventive songs that have not only brought Antwon into the spotlight, but also that he has become widely known for. From "Airplane Mode" to "94s," Antwon tackles everything from romance to fashion with equal comfort, showcasing his eclectic musical influences, which continue to make him stand out.
We had a chance to meet up with Antwon where he told us about the flow of his brand new mixtape, what we can expect with his upcoming Downtown Tony album, some of his least favorite trends, and future projects to be excited about.
Tell me about your new mixtape Sunnyvale Gardens.
Sunnyvale Gardens is all the songs we didn’t end up putting on the upcoming album, Downtown Tony. They’re really great songs, I think it’s my best stuff I’ve done so far. We got some production from DJ Lucas and Fish Narc, and it's a lot of stuff that me and Lars Stalfors did. There's one track that Kaytranada and I did.
How does it compare to Double Ecstasy? Or can you not even compare the two?
Yeah you can’t really compare the two. Double Ecstasy was probably the most cohesive stuff that I have made thus far, and Downtown Tony will be like that as well. Whereas Sunnyvale Gardens is like the old stuff I made, where it kind of comes from everywhere, with a lot of different sides to it.
We were about to have sixteen tracks on Sunnyvale Gardens, but two of them would have been tracks that were already released, “Fly Away” and “Living Every Dream”. We’ve been working on these tracks since around the same time as Double Ecstasy, so since 2015.
You’re always doing collaborations and featuring people on our tracks. Do you think you work better collaboratively or on your own?
I do both, but I like to work with people because it’s a different experience each time I get together with someone. If I just worked by myself all the time I wouldn’t know how to work with people. I know some people that just don’t know how to work with others, like in the same space, I mean they can make something on their own and then send it off to a collaborator and work with another person like that, but you don’t get the same experience as being in a room with someone and working on something together.
You’ve worked on some other projects this year as well, like that Corbin album. How did you get involved with that?
When I was recording for Sunnyvale Gardens my homie Nick Melons was letting me use the studio a bunch. I recorded at lot with Shlomo, who was working with Corbin in the studio at the time, and we were just introduced. I would hangout and be around while they were recording and was just such a sick vibe. When they were nearing the end of recording that album, Corbin asked me if I wanted to get on one of the last songs. I was like, “Yeah for sure,” and we kind of just hashed it out. I wrote a verse for it and showed him and he would come back with some tips on how to push out the verse a certain way. He’s a good kid, he’s smart and was in the choir and shit.
So Downtown Tony comes out early next year right?
Yeah that will be coming out at the beginning of the year. The way I like to flow things on my albums and mixtapes, listening wise, is like a vibe. The next five makes up for the last, you know? I’ll play a song that’s downtempo, and then make a hella upbeat song next. So my mixtapes are more like albums, but their mixtapes to the general pubic. But Downtown Tony was recoded fully in the studio. So we re-recorded things and did it all with Lars, who executive produced the album. He’s done stuff for Cold War Kids and the Neighborhood. He helps me out, slumming it, and helping me out.
You’ve had six albums since 2012. Is there a day that you don’t wake up and not making music?
No not really, unless I’m really depressed. But the next day I’m usually at it again.
What do you have coming up?
We’re doing another Nature World Night Out festival, and I’ve got some new Nature World clothing coming out soon too. Nature World started in 2014 and we just recently did a collab with Pleasures. It was a shirt with the OJ Simpson chase scene. This kid wore it on the NFL draft and it went pretty viral. I think we’re doing another collab with them soon and some others as well. Also new Secret Circle album 2018. We’re planning to do more shows as well.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater or Skate 3?
Skate 3, but I like loved Tony Hawk Pro Skater so much when I was growing up; that was my shit. That was a real pivotal turning point in the hood too. Like when they had Kareem Campbell on there it was crazy because kids were like, “Yo, there’s a black dude on this video game,” and that’s when all the black kids in my neighborhood started skating because it was some crazy shit. And then we had Chad Muska too. Every other kid was wearing Shorty’s.
Buffy or Charmed?
Buffy, for sure.
Are you on Tinder?
Nah. I mean I’ve been on Tinder before, one time when I was in Canada. This girl hit me up and was like, “Aren’t you playing a show tonight?” I got this feeling like, “Uhhh yeah…I shouldn’t be here.”
What’s your least favorite trend right now?
I hate and love spinners because I like using spinners, but I hate how often I see them out. I also hate when people hate something just because it is a trend. I myself am like that, which I hate. I just want to enjoy things.
One thing I don’t want to become a trend is Crocs. I legit like wearing Crocs and I don’t want people to start wearing Crocs. They’re coming up, but I don’t really like that.