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Shwayze and Cisco buzzin' with energy at Summer Meltdown

Producer previews forthcoming album in exclusive interview

Posted: May 29, 2009 10:19 a.m.
Updated: May 28, 2009 7:10 p.m.

Bekka Gunther and Chris Young stop for a quick snapshot after Shwayze's performance in which Young performed a new single "Stadium Rap" for the crowd.

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A crowd of screaming girls with outstretched hands grabbed at Shwayze's and his partner Cisco Adler's shirts as the rap-rockers leaned over the barrier in front of the stage into the audience of about 1,000 near the climax of the 6th annual Summer Meltdown concert Saturday night.

A dozen bands rocked Golden Valley High School's outdoor amphitheater before Shwayze and Adler, but it was obvious the fun-loving pair were the real stars of the 10-hour music marathon, produced each year by students in the Hart district's Yes I Can program for students with and without disabilities.

The performers were impressed the girls knew all the words to songs like "Buzzin,'" "Corona and Lime" and "Roamin,'" from the duo's first album, "Shwayze," out late last summer on the SureTone/Geffen label and a No. 1 hit on iTunes' album chart.

Between songs Adler praised the Yes I Can program and the students for putting on such a cool show, which they do each year as part of their course studies. Both performers appeared to have as much fun as the audience, and no one seemed to mind their set was shortened because the festival was running about half an hour late.

Shwayze and Adler, accompanied by a DJ/horn player/bassist, managed to sneak in one last song as an encore before the plug was pulled at 11 p.m., and dozens of Yes I Can kids with backstage passes swarmed them as they left the stage.

As Shwayze, 22, autographed dozens of T-shirts and CDs and posed for pictures backstage, Adler ducked back into the duo's dressing room for a short pre-arranged interview before rejoining Shwayze and a friendly mob of fans at the autograph table.

The controlled chaos was all pretty normal for Adler, 30, a musician, songwriter and producer who was front man of the band Whitestarr, best-known for their songs "Sunshine Girl" and "Give Me a Light."

Cisco said he called it quits with the band in 2008 and has since been working mostly with Aaron Smith, who he met at the Malibu Inn, a club on Pacific Coast Highway, when Smith jumped onstage and started free-styling, catching Adler's eyes and ears.

Adler decided to collaborate with and produce Smith, tagged Smith with the nickname "Shwayze," and started recording tracks in Cisco's studio.

The first Shwayze single, "Buzzin,'" became a major hit. Most of the other songs on what became their debut album were also inspired by their adventures on the beach the first summer the two hung out together.

With beats reminiscent of smooth reggae and hip-hop and words as fresh as summer, the album embodies California.

"I think we represent a lifestyle," Adler said. "And I don't think it's only California living it. What we've found going everywhere else is that kids are just like the kids in California."

With recent concerts as far from Malibu as Canada and Hawaii, Shwayze has been igniting fan support all over the country. Coming up, they have dates in Texas, Las Vegas and Arizona.

Between road trips, Smith and Adler have been writing and recording songs for the second Shwayze album.

"You've got like your whole life to write your first album, and then you only have like, a month off to write your second," Adler said.

"But luckily the last year has been kinda crazy, so you put everything that happens into it, and also I think it's good experience. You kinda stumble upon something...and then you evolve," he said.

While keeping the breezy sound, Adler said the second Shwayze album has more substance, perhaps some more thought and a branching out of stories and lyrics from the late-night parties of the debut album.

"We made the record really well-rounded," he said, adding the as-yet-untitled album is due in August.

"We released our first one in August and it's done pretty well, so I think we're going to stick with August" for the second, Adler said.

Adler and his production company also recently signed Aaron "Shwayze" Smith's cousin, Chris Young, an up-and-coming rap artist. Chris performed one of his originals, "Stadium Rap," to open Shwayze's Summer Meltdown show, and the crowd ate it up. Onstage, Young has the energy of a seasoned performer, yet he is only 19.

"Nervousness is a good thing. I like it; it's like an adrenaline rush. I wouldn't do this if I couldn't handle it," said Young, commenting on how he uses anxiety as energy for a show. With an ability to grab an audience's attention and hold it, Young stands out as a fresh, new artist.

Young has a free EP called "Mood Swings," a soulful collection that explores his view of what it's like to make music before getting signed to a label. For free downloads and more information go to www.myspace.com/chrisyoungrap

The sun set on the 6th annual Summer Meltdown Concert, but the heat was still felt as fans crowded around Shwayze's merchandise table hoping for an autograph. Both Shwayze and Cisco know they have alot in store for them this summer and Saturday's festivities were just the beginning.

Signal Online Editor Stephen K. Peeples contributed to this story.

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