“Wherever love is, is where I wanna be” —Pink Sweat$
“It is currently 5:24 PM.”
When I dial into my interview with Pink Sweat$, there’s a soft wash of sunlight on the surprisingly blank, surprisingly un-pink wall behind him. Perhaps it’s the omnipresence of the color in his music videos, Instagram feed and just about everything he touches, but there’s a definite shock factor in discovering that Pink’s home is, in fact, not painted in his signature shade of pink. Not this corner, at least. Within the periphery of my Zoom window, I see the decidedly un-pink wall, a recliner chair and remnants of a balloon arrangement—perhaps the last remaining slivers of whatever celebration.
It’s hard to remember a time when celebrating was normal. But if I’ve learned anything over the past few months cooped up indoors, it’s that the privilege of fostering familiarity is something worth celebrating in itself, so I found myself smiling at the fact that, at least, Pink Sweat$ was wearing his pinks. This time, in a made-you-look fuchsia denim jacket.
Pink is exactly what his music videos make him out to be, which is essentially a breath of fresh air. Easygoing. Sincere. He uses the word beautiful at least thrice throughout our twelve-minute chat—which I gather is not only out of habit but because he finds something convincingly, genuinely beautiful in the little things. In curious questions, in collaboration, in the experience his music creates. With Pink Planet, his full album a couple of years in the works, nearing its final stages, he unpacks the album’s opening chapter The Prelude, as well as the collaborations and singles that have filled the in-betweens.
Wonder: You released The Prelude in the thick of the pandemic, and we know these times have been strange to say the least. What did it feel like to be working on a personal project and releasing music at such a time?
Pink Sweat$: It was a beautiful thing. I feel like being blessed to use my gift as a blanket for people. You know, a lot of people are going through a lot of hard times and, for me, my music is a blanket. It’s like when you’re a kid and you got your toy, I feel like my music [is that]. That’s what I hope for it to be with people.
W: Your message of spreading good vibes trickles down into everything you do—even the fun cooking series you do on your YouTube channel. Will we be seeing any new Kitchen Adventures soon?
P: Yes, 100%. I want to do more. I’m just very particular ‘cause I like to do things that I feel are fun or experimental, but nothing’s popped in my head lately.
W: On the flipside of things, one of the tracks off your last release was Not Alright, which is about being black in America. Being a publication based in Manila, we might not have a complete understanding of what that’s like. Could you tell us more about this track, and why you felt you had to release it ahead of everything else?
P: I wanted to paint a picture for people who might not even be aware of the things going on via a song, and I painted my life. Almost every single lyric is exactly how my life is. I wrote the song from a black experience but anybody can relate to it, especially minorities. Because we minorities, we have a thing where we all feel like we have to grow up faster. As soon as you can hit the floor, you gotta get a job. You gotta find a husband. You’re always being challenged to grow up so quickly and, for me, that was the biggest thing that I wanted my listeners to hear. Just the experience of having to be a man or a woman in the context of adulthood when you’re just a child. Sometimes you just want to play with your toys but you can’t. They have to give you lectures about police or [about how], when you go outside, this is how you speak to the police. You don’t argue. These are not things that you should have to think about. But that’s America right now. And we’re hoping for change.
W: You also collaborated with Joshua and DK of K-pop boy group Seventeen. What was it like collaborating from halfway across the world, and with a mainstream K-pop artist?
P: For me, it was a beauty. It was the most beautiful thing because I always wanted to find a way I could give back to the fans [who] support me so heavily. I wanted to do something that made sense, you know? It’s like, how can I give back to a community that gives so much to me? That was kind of the idea I landed on, that I should do more collaborations with more Asian artists.
I feel like a lot of American artists, we don’t really do that at that level. I guess now it’s becoming a little bit more popular but for a long time, that region of the world…Americans, we didn’t go and collaborate. We always stayed here and did our thing. For me, I just wanted to show people that my message is real. I want love and unity. I feel like there’s such a strong connection between my music and the Asian community, where love is very prominent. And wherever love is, is where I want to be.
W: You found out about Seventeen through fans’ music recommendations, so we want to return the favor. Could you give us a few songs or artists you’ve been taking inspiration from lately?
P: Ooh, artists…so my boy Otis Kane; he’s new. I’ve been listening to his music a lot. We’ve been working together. I listen to Disney. I don’t really listen to a lot of everyday music. I listen to Stevie Wonder. I don’t listen to a lot of new music consistently, though when I do, I do. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of K-pop. Is it GOT7? Yeah, I listen to them. Really that’s what I’ve been listening to lately outside of SEVENTEEN. And obviously, BTS. Light it up like dynamite—it’s a great song!
W: The Prelude is just a first taste of Pink Planet, which has been in the works for a while. How far in are you in terms of producing the album? Jumping off the EP, what can we expect from the full album?
P: The album is completed. It’s currently in the mastering process. That’s what’s happening right now, and I’m excited. The Prelude is the journey. That’s the physical representation. That’s the journey, you know how when you get on the bus and you’re looking out the window and you’re like, “Wow, I wonder [what] it’s going to be like when we get there!” Pink Planet is the actual arrival where you get off and you go on a musical journey that’s like wow, this is a crazy dope place. I love it.
This interview was conducted via Zoom and has been edited for brevity.
Special thanks Warner Music Philippines
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver