The Austin Chronicle

ACL Fest Interview: Pink Sweat$

Teddy bear R&B pop quietician skyrocketed from the bedroom to festival stages

By Thomas Fawcett, October 4, 2019, Music

"I don't want to be trendy, I want to start a trend," declares Pink Sweat$, a 27-year-old teddy bear of a singer who cribbed his stage name from his favorite leisure wear. "I want to be the reason people start dropping acoustic albums or whatever."

Last year, the fuchsia-clad crooner born David Bowden whipped up a quiet storm online with "Honesty," a tissue-soft R&B ballad stripped down to the bare essentials: vocals, guitar, and just a touch of reverb. The Philly native's soulful falsetto and naked ballads landed him on seemingly every playlist of curated cool and, well, that's how you go from first-ever live show to a late-afternoon major festival set within a calendar year.

"I don't want my music to ever be out of style," he asserts. "You're never going to listen to a guitar and be like, 'That sounds old.'"

While often relying on acoustic instrumentation, the singer doesn't trade in folksy throwback revivals. Rather, he traffics in the purest form of R&B pop. Sophomore EP Volume 2 follows a familiar pattern, this time spiked with a splash of "Coke & Henny."

"It's very heavily inspired by Bobby McFerrin," he explains. "It has percussion, but it's not programmed drums. If you know who Bobby McFerrin is, he makes sounds via his mouth, hands, body. So it's not new. I'm recycling the energy I received from him."

To a tune, these are love songs – one more thing that never goes out of style.

"That's the most common feeling that we all have as human beings," he muses. "The desire of love, to be loved, and the desire to give that love."

Pink Sweat$

Saturday, 4pm, Tito’s stage

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