Malibu’s Music Corner

Buzzin’ with Shwayze

Locals Shwayze and Cisco Alder have teamed up and created a buzz nationwide.

By Lisa Kestenbaum / Special to The Malibu Times

Decorated with tall palm trees and neon-colored lights, The Roxy Theatre on Sunset was on fire. Buzzing with energy, the performance space was packed with people. Just when it felt like it couldn’t get any hotter, the main performers took the stage. Talk about temperatures rising.

So what was all the buzz about?

One word, two people: Shwayze.

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Malibu residents Shwayze (born Aaron Smith) and Cisco Adler are lighting up stages and filling airwaves with their West Coast, laid-back sound-a blend of acoustic guitar, hip-hop rhythms and easygoing lyrics. Their new MTV series, “Buzzin’,” which precedes the release of their debut album titled “Shwayze,” documents the two as they film music videos, go on tour, make music and generally have a good time.

The season premiere of the MTV show is set on the sands of Malibu where the pair filmed the music video for their hit track on the album, “Buzzin’.” Film crews tape the overall scene and Shwayze carries around a handheld flip-cam to get up close and personal shots.

Shwayze, 23, grew up with his grandparents Candace Bowen, a film producer and founder of the local Women in Film’s monthly networking breakfast meetings, and Howard Ferguson in Point Dume, where the rapper was brought up on the music of James Brown, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and Smokey Robinson.

Twenty-nine-year-old Cisco Adler is the son of Lou Adler, a prominent music manager, producer and songwriter, and owner of The Roxy on Sunset. Like his father, Adler has made a name for himself in the music industry as the producer behind Mickey Avalon’s “Jane Fonda” and “Mr. Right” and as the front man for the now disbanded Whitestarr.

Shwayze and Adler met several years ago during a show at the Malibu Inn where Whitestarr was headlining. Shwayze had jumped on stage and began to free-style rap about his self-proclaimed role as “the only black kid in Malibu.” After a mutual friend suggested they collaborate, Adler and Shwayze began hanging out and eventually moved to Adler’s home studio to record. “The beautiful thing about it, is that when we made the record we weren’t signed,” Shwayze said, describing the laid-back dynamic. “So we’d be out at night partying and then making music about it. It was really organic.”

At times Adler, who produces and sings backup, would already have a beat created for a song, and in other instances the two would make something new to start working with.

“Back then, we’d make the songs, give them to locals, see what they thought about it,” Shwayze said. “Now we’ll be sitting on the tour bus, laughing, thinking, how did we get here?”

Jordan Schur, head of Suretone Records, offered to sign Shwayze after Adler played him a demo of their single “Buzzin'” during a meeting. Later, when they were offered to do the show for MTV, Adler saw it as the perfect chance to help launch the group’s name.

The show allows Shwayze and Adler to represent the Malibu culture that is alluded to in many of their songs.

“I feel like I know most everyone in Malibu, at least between me and grandparents,” Shwayze said. “People think about Malibu only in celebrity aspect, but it’s actually a community where everyone knows everyone, has each other’s back and supports each other. It’s a good, small town-I love the ‘Bu!”

“We’re very pro-Malibu,” Adler concurred. “We’re trying to spread Malibu love across the nation.”

After their stint at The Roxy, the two hit the road with the national KROQ Warped Tour (when they play live, DJ Skeet Skeet provides the music). After the tour, they plan to get back into the studio for more recording. Adler and Shwayze say they will always return to do shows back home.

“We’re gonna play at the Malibu Inn forever, no matter what. That’s our local spot,” Shwayze said.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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