When William Schultz, more commonly known by his stage name Sueco the Child, was growing up in Pasadena, people told him that he could not become famous through music.
“Growing up [people] thought making it out of Pasadena and becoming famous through any type of music was impossible,” says Sueco, who derives his stage name from the Spanish translation of “Swedish.”
“Anyone can make this happen,” Sueco says. “It doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter if you have no connections. It doesn’t matter about anything. You just have to try… It’s just about willpower.”
Sueco signed with Atlantic Records in 2019, two months after his hit song “Fast” went viral on the social media platform TikTok. His breakout song garnered the attention of the entire world as it currently has 84 million streams on Spotify, and the music video has 13 million views on YouTube.
“My whole life, I was making music and I always wanted to pursue music as a career, but I never knew how,” said Sueco.
The aqua blue-haired rapper’s love for music first began when he was a child, but grew even deeper when his mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer while he was attending Blair Middle School.
Sueco struggled to cope with his mother’s diagnosis, and he first turned to drugs and delinquency to release his emotions.
“While she was sick, I was just [messing] around,” he said. “I was doing stupid [stuff] with my homies — that’s how I got through it. I stopped caring. I was smoking weed. I was popping Molly. I was doing stupid [stuff].”
Sueco admits he struggled to find other ways to cope as he was very close to his mother. While his father worked as a truck driver, Sueco was alone with his mother and would watch over her.
“It was hard getting through those times, while she was around, because I was also taking care of her,” he said. “It was pretty much just me and my mom at the house because I was an only child.”
In need of another way to release his emotions, Sueco turned to music. He began to listen to hardcore rock bands such as A Day to Remember and Bring Me the Horizon. The intense, aggressive and powerful lyrics and sounds from these bands gave him an outlet for his anger.
“At that point that was a way for me to let out my anger that I was feeling towards the world,” he said. “I was just pissed off and angry. It was a way for me to let out things that I couldn’t tell that I needed to get out.”
When his mother passed away while he was in high school, Sueco again turned to music to help him grieve. Now 15 years old, Sueco turned to the soothing sounds of the electronic dance music artist Blackmill to calm his soul after his mother had passed. He described the EDM artist’s music as peaceful and a type of sound that let him know that “everything was going to be alright”.
“I remember I was able to just listen to that and go into this space of healing,” Sueco said.
Even though music helped him grieve the diagnosis and death of his mother, it was not enough. Sueco’s depression consumed his mind and everyone around him noticed.
“I was terribly depressed,” he said. “Everyone at school knew what was going on. The teachers, everyone knew I was terribly depressed.”
Sueco’s teachers took notice and tried to help him. One of his teachers enrolled him in an exchange program in Spain without his knowledge — all he had to do was buy a plane ticket. He spent a month in Spain exploring the country and opening his eyes to different cultures.
“That was one of the first things that opened my eyes — the world is bigger than what I previously thought,” he said. “The world is so massive and that was one of the things that helped me grow as a person. I kind of stepped out of my shell and got over a little bit of the depression.”
The change of environment helped shape his worldview. He realized that he no longer needed drugs to escape and go on adventures. He carried this feeling into his senior year when he joined the jazz band and choir. He also began to follow his passions in hardcore music and began to rap.
“I was doing all this because it was like a way for me to express myself and do things instead of sitting on my ass and wasting away; which is how I was feeling on the inside,” said Sueco, who was 17 years old at this time. “I needed something to help me.”
Sueco’s work in music earned him an acceptance letter from the prestigious school Berklee College of Music, where legendary record producer Quincy Jones attended. Unfortunately, Sueco could not afford the tuition and attended Cal State, Northridge (CSUN) for two years before dropping out.
He ended his college career shortly after he traveled to Puerto Rico, where he realized he wanted to pursue his lifelong dream of music.
“I just had this life revelation,” he said. “I needed to make music. I was going to be miserable if I did anything else.”
With no connections to the music industry in California, Sueco moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where one of his friends worked as an audio engineer. Working out of a makeshift studio in the front of his house, Sueco made ends meet recording music for local rappers. However, he soon found himself evicted because of the different types of people coming in and out of the house.
He then moved back home into his dad’s backhouse and worked for a music studio making beats. Unsatisfied with the job, he decided to cut ties with the studio and try to make it on his own.
“I realized these [people] aren’t going to do anything to help me,” said Sueco. “They’re not going to help me. I mean sure, I’ve been able to be in a studio, but nothing happened. So I left them.”
He decided to bet on himself. In the summer of 2018, with the help of his friend Lamont Holt, the two spread their music through beat videos on social media. The trend went viral as the duo made beats out of random objects such as eggs, or even making beats while blindfolded. Through his viral fame, Sueco gained more and more popularity.
“It’s just been steps… and none of them have been traditional steps, because I never knew anyone in the music industry,” Sueco said.
From there, Sueco released his music on the music-sharing platform, Soundcloud, where he posted his most popular track so far, “Fast.”
Throughout his whole life, all Sueco wanted to be was a musician. Now that he has it, he does not want to let go.
“If you really want it,” said Sueco, “It doesn’t matter the obstacles, it’s going to happen.”