There is only one California possibility after a long day by the ocean and an even longer night in the club: back to the beach. With the sea still in your hair and the sun's warmth at home under your skin, returning to the scene of the mellow crime—large sunglasses and beach towel included—is the only option. And there couldn't be a better trajectory for Shwayze and Cisco Adler's ever-evolving music career.
The unlikely duo was ushered to unlikely heights with their self-titled first release, Shwayze. A string of hits ("Buzzin'," "Corona and Lime") fueled by millions of Internet plays carried them to top ten album sales, landed them a coveted slot on the Vans Warped Tour, and turned them into reality television starts on MTV. The combination of acoustic-guitar lead sing-along melodies and California-cool rhymes found on Shwayze was the musicification of sand, sun and water—just one step removed from actually smelling like sunscreen. But as talented musicians are ought to do, they decided to switch it up for their sophomore release, Let It Beat.
"We can't sit on the beach with an acoustic guitar forever," proclaims Cisco Adler. "This is not a one-trick pony."
Featuring contributions from New Orleans hip-hop duo The Knux, Shwayze's lifelong hero Snoop Dogg, Ric Ocasek from The Cars, and Darryl Jenifer, bassist for legendary DC punk band Bad Brains, Let It Beat was a fearless experiment held together by the controlled yet casual guidance of Adler's production. The album put an electro-pop twist on Shwayze's newly patented sound, but not everyone was on board.
"The funny thing about the first record is that when you make it, you have no expectations or pressures. We were able to discover our sound in the process," Shwayze says. "Then the second record, we now have fans. We were trying to simultaneously appease them and show that we can make music that grows our sound. Some fans wanted the laid back, chill Shwayze and some were cool with the uptempo sounds on songs like 'Get U Home.' It was 50/50."
Then, in the middle of a skyrocketing music career, life intervened. It was time for Shwayze and Cisco to grow as individuals, which meant taking time apart from the golden combination they had fine-tuned.
"For two-and-a-half years straight, up through Let It Beat, Cisco and I were together 24/7. We were touring constantly, recording, interviews, and when we weren't, I was living at his house in Malibu. Cisco did his mixtape, Supercalifornialipsticksexymagicdopeshit, and I moved to Hollywood where I started experimenting with other producers and sounds. That's when I came out with my first mixtape, Love Stoned, under my real name Aaron Smith."
But it wasn't until another year had passed and subsequent move for Shwayze to Austin, Texas, that the beach and collaborative spirits of yesteryear came calling again. The duo quickly caught fire in the studio, releasing an EP, The W's—a reference to weed and women—in February of 2011. Strictly for the fans, it let everyone know that Shwayze and Cisco hadn't permanently forsaken the beach (or each other) and were primed to deliver what everyone wanted.
Just a few months after The W's and three jam-packed years since they first met, Shwayze and Cisco are back with Island In The Sun, due out August 30th on Bananabeat Records and Feel Good Music Imprint. The new labels are Cisco and Shwayze's respectively, as Island marks the first release away from Interscope Records.
"Even when we were on a major label, we did most of the work on our own. The marketing, the tours, all the looks and features.it's how you have to do it at majors because there are so many artists and so few people actually working at the label," Shwayze says. "Island In The Sun is a breath of fresh air. We're back at the California beachy, laid-back music and it was a conscious decision to go back to what we do so well. The lyrics are stepped up, the beats are stepped up, the hooks are stepped up. It's really Shwayze and Cisco at its finest."
And while personal growths and individual career paths are unavoidable—Shwayze is hard at work at his solo debut—they will always come back to the beach. Don't get it twisted though, just because the sounds on Island In The Sun are perfect for a hung-over and sun-soaked nap or passing a few Coronas across the sand, doesn't mean these guys are sleeping. Even at the beach, Shwayze and Cisco are hard at work.