We’re just going to say it: If Sueco isn’t on your TikTok FYP (for you page), then why do you even have a phone? From hosting L.A.’s first annual Crate Olympics to giving us a front-row seat to the drama with his ex, Sueco delivers comedy gold as swiftly as he delivers chart-topping hits. His antics are as enlightening as they are entertaining, giving viewers an inside look at how modern musical hopefuls make it big.
Real name William Schultz, Sueco is a musician who has mastered the fickle social media game, deftly starting and delivering on trends with such subtle expertise that you’re hooked before you know it. He has quickly become TikTok canon since originally going viral in early 2019 while promoting his debut single “Fast.” Fueled by traction on TikTok, “Fast” became a social media moment unto itself, with fans creating millions of videos soundtracked by the irreverent and subtly humorous mid-tempo banger.
On this week’s episode of the L.A. Weekly Weekly podcast, host Brian Calle surprises a very excited room of Chapman students with a live interview with the legend himself. A man of the people, Sueco drove all the way from North Hollywood to the university’s campus in Orange for this chat in front of his fans, which is the Angeleno way of saying “I love you.”
“Can I, um, can I cuss?” asks Sueco as soon as the recording goes live. This is L.A. Weekly, so the answer is an emphatic “of course.”
“It was a bitch,” Sueco describes of the drive. But for those of us who are familiar with the artist, grand gestures are kind of his thing. From giving away thousands of dollars to fans that use his song to make TikToks, to flying out followers, a couple hours’ drive for a 30-minute podcast with students is definitely his vibe.
Originally known as Sueco The Child, he shortened his name as his music took off. The moniker is a nod to a childhood nickname and means “Swedish” in Spanish.
“I grew up in Pasadena, Altadena,” explains Sueco. “It was mainly kind of a Mexican area where I grew up, and so all the homies…I’d go over to their parents’ houses and they wouldn’t really like, speak English or anything, it was just mainly Spanish. And then my whole family is Swedish, so yeah, Sueco means Swedish in Spanish. The parents would call me ‘el suecosito.’ The little Swedish boy. It kind of just stuck.”
Sueco grew up going to church, which is where his musical career began. Born in 1997, he received an early introduction to music through his parents, who are church musicians – his father was the choir director while his mother was a singer.
His first taste of musical expression was singing in the choir. From there he transitioned to playing the drums in the church band. His skill was self-taught; he learned to play the drums through hours spent on the video game Rock Band as a teenager. He then took a huge artist turn and joined a screamo group before transitioning into the production side of music in 2017.
When did Sueco know that he wanted to make a career out of music?
“It wasn’t until I started being in hardcore bands and stuff – at first I was the drummer and then I was the screamer – in just local underground bands, and that was around the time my mom passed away from breast cancer, I kind of just fully dove into writing and making music, to just kind of get over emotions and get through shit,” he shares. “That was my way of therapy, just making music.”
“I just wanted to make music to help people,” he continues. “Because music was helping me get through so much shit, I wanted my music to help other people. That’s why I decided I even wanted to do it in the first place.”
Music was the outlet he needed to heal and make himself whole, and he desired to share that with the world.
“It took me a while to get the balls to say ‘fuck everything else, I’m just going to do music,’” he laughs. “It wasn’t until 2016 that I dropped out of university [to pursue music full time].”
A CSUN student, he was studying abroad in Puerto Rico when his eyes were opened to how vast and different the experiences of the world are. He soon realized that he didn’t want to waste his life being “normal,” but would rather take the gamble and chase his dreams.
TikTok was the perfect platform for Sueco to express himself and find his niche. Originally going viral for making beats out of weird sounds (such as his infamous condom beat), he began using the format to release his tracks. He was a hit from the start, breaking onto the scene with his RIAA gold-certified viral hit, “Fast.”
Sueco has since released more increasingly pop-punk songs, including “PRIMADONA,” “SOS (Feat. Travis Barker),” and the viral sensation “Paralyzed.” An example of the power of social media, after posting a teaser of “Paralyzed” on TikTok, the John Feldmann (also known for his work with Machine Gun Kelly, JXDN and Avril Lavigne, among others)-produced track quickly racked up over 57 million views, 10 million likes and to this day continues to grow.
Upon release, “Paralyzed” landed on top playlists like the coveted New Music Friday and gave Sueco his first entry on both the Rolling Stone and Billboard charts. It also went to #1 on the iTunes Alternative Singles chart and Billboard Rock Digital Song Sales chart, and is a constant rotation in my own minivan-mom mix.
To hear more from Sueco himself, including what shenanigans up to this month, tune into my new favorite episode of the L.A. Weekly Weekly podcast on Spotify, Cumulus Los Angeles or wherever you get your podcasts.