Tritonal On 'Blackout,' Album, Family, Sobriety & More [Interview]
Chad Cisneros and David Reed were just two music nerds who loved to examine the details of trance productions by their heroes like Tiësto, Armin van Buuren and Ferry Corsten. After a year of talking online, they decided to take the relationship to the next level and work together on some music. This blossomed into the career that exists today as Tritonal with one album under their belts in 2011 and another on the way in June, several EPs and countless other singles and remixes.
The pair also co-helm their own label Enhanced Recordings alongside Will Holland, where they help with the A&R. However their most important achievements yet may be their families, as husbands and fathers, trying to balance the nearly impossible life of being in-demand touring musicians, label owners and recordings artists and family men.
We had the chance to catch up with the two DJs and producers during a trip to New York City last week and chatted with them about their new single "Blackout," their upcoming album, which should be released in June, Chad's sobriety and how they balance family and work.
MT: Now that you've wrapped up your Untouchable Tour, how difficult is it to do something as expansive as that with families?
D: Well it's a two edge sword isn't it? We're able to do what we love and go out there and play shows but we have our wives and our new little baby boy and girl at home and it is tough. It's more tough emotionally than it is anything else. It's just not being there and having that sense of guilt that you're not being a good father even though we are out working.
MT: Do you think you'll continue to do really big tours like that?
D: I'm certain we will have tours in the future but who knows we may bring them with us at some point. Having the balance of being home is important to us.
MT: Chad I know you been sober for 8-9 years now. Has it been tough to do that in the music industry?
C: It would be if I wasn't connected the way I am. Recovery is a big part of my life and to answer the question square on, no -- It hasn't been that tough. I don't have a desire to get drunk anymore. That's the cool thing. That's been removed and I give all the grace of that to god. My relationship with my higher power. I just try to stay connected to people and I'm still heavily involved in a program of recovery.
MT: Why do you think most DJ's go from hot too cold with partying?
C: Well you kind of answered your own question in a way. You know, it's hard to maintain a viable career, much less a career, a life and stay fresh in the studio if you're inebriated all the time. I think that everything in moderation is cool. I'm the person that takes everything to extremes. I didn't stop when it came to drinking or drugs. I took that to the extreme as well. You know it doesn't play out for you well over the long term.
MT: You said the bigger the track the bigger the gig. With that we've seen a lot of guys kind of get really big shows from one track. Do you think that's a good thing for consumers to see?
D: That's funny that could be a double edge sword. It's happened a lot where you have this huge track and you have to top that track, but if you can't things can take a turn for the worst for you. The bigger the track the bigger the shows you will have.
C: I guess it depends on every artist doesn't it? Like you kind of said, maybe you have a situation where you are a one-hit wonder and now that artist is thrown into a position where they have to be a DJ. Whether they are or not, maybe they are learning as they go and learning in front of thousands of people. For Dave and I, we haven't been a one-hit wonder. Our growth has been pretty steady and continuous and we've tried to produce a body of music that encompasses a lot of styles and I think we have. Chill out to trance, we have a melodic trap record I guess you would call it as our next single. We've played in all sorts of situations and I think for the most part that's what you have. If I look at the majority of artist that are out in tour, the Martin Garrixes of the world are few and far between. Most people that have success have been doing it awhile. That's just the bottom line.
MT: How involved are you guys with the day-to-day at Enhanced?
C: We are super involved at the A&R process, which means Dave and I both have a few artists that we personally A&R. Dave has Noah Niemen and Estiva to a certain degree and I've got Juventa and a couple other cats. Then for the records that come in, like a demo from an artist and we'd never heard of -- that goes through our team. We've got a few guys that listen to music and if they think something has potential they send it to Will and then Will A&R's it to a degree that he thinks it's signable and he brings Dave and I in. On the accounting, sending merch and keeping track of records and stuff we tell Will, have fun Paco. He's actually sitting across the room from me flipping me off right now.
MT: You guys got bored with trance before. Do you think you'd get bored of what you're doing now and go to something different?
C: How about this. Being that we are artists, we like to constantly change, evolve, build and take what we love from trance and build and take what we love from any kind of genre be that it be rap, be that it be more progressive and we like to have fun. We like to stay inspired. If you're painting the same picture everyday then you're going to go crazy.
MT: In the past you've done a whole gamut of ways to release music -- albums, EP's and singles. Which one did you like the best, which one did you think worked the best?
C: That's an interesting question. I don't know about the EP's. I've got some favorite records how about that? Well one of them which is funny enough, comes out tomorrow, "Blackout." Secondly the trance record "Still With Me." It was written as a ballad initially as a down-tempo piece with the set-up lines remolded. Third on the list would probably be "Now or Never."
MT: Why did it take so long to go from one album to the next?
C: Because we didn't want to just make another album because that's what you're supposed to do. When we made Piercing the Quiet we put every ounce of ourselves into that record and at the time we had a story to tell and we told that story at the time to the best of our ability. When we changed our sound we wanted to find our feet and we wanted to make sure that we knew who we were within that new environment and we do now. We know who we are now and we're already looking to new horizons again and I think that that's part of the journey. You want to keep making cool new stuff and challenging yourself.
MT: So "Blackout" is a sign of things to come?
C: Yeah, it is definitely a sign of things to come. We express a lot of creatively in that record. We had a lot fun making it and we had a lot of fun making all the records that we are working with for the upcoming album. Definitely is a sign of things to come.
MT: Explain the concept behind the video.
C: it was between us and the creative team, and you know we got to a place where we felt like we had the general concept and we kind of had to put trust in that team that they were going to deliver the look. I got to say that from what we agreed on as what you would call a treatment to the final product it's pretty bang on as what I thought in my head. I means there's a few things that were cool surprises and that I didn't necessarily envision but for the most part the overall aesthetic, the overall cinematography and like how those two interacted with each other. The emotion she expressed from her father that was sort of coming in the room and bantering her. All those things to me landed square on the peg.
MT: So you guys are heavily involved in your videos?
C: Art and everything, yeah. You need to be. As label owners and creative directors it's a big part of the fun too. You spend two years almost writing an album you want to make sure that the art, the font, the videos, look good. You want it to all feel like the music.
MT: How involved are you guys in writing the lyrics?
D: We work with a lot of other writers too we did a lot of cool writing sessions over the last year and we learned a lot. But we cannot take credit for all of it.
C: No way no.
D: But I will say that that's probably the one area that we've grown the most. In the last two years. Dave and chad the dj's or Dave and chad the producers, we've grown the most in our ability to get in the room with other writers and attribute to the writing process at its bare and bones level. I'm super proud of that.
MT: So I assume you had many of misfires over the past couple years?
C: We've learned from our mistakes for sure and some of them we've brought back. You know what this was a cool idea. What can we do with it? Maybe we can incorporate it somehow or take from it. Or maybe we missed it completely and it's in the trash. I think we missed more than we nailed. That's okay that's part of the writing process it's how you learn.
D: Yeah you miss and don't beat yourself up about it and you try to take what you can from it and try again.
MT: How often do you guys give each other permission to fail?
Both: Every day.
C: You have to have that rule because you want to get somewhere. You want to grow and half ideas are going to be bad. Or they are just average and you just have to be like, "Well, this is sh*t." You have days where you just do not feel it.
MT: What can fans expect from the album?
D: I guess a body of work. We worked our ass off on it and we are really proud of it. There's a lot of different styles of songs and tempos and it ranges across the board. At the end of the day its good songs that's what we choose. We wrote so many over a period of time that we have the luxury of sitting with that music and digesting it and being able to say you know, strip away the up lifters and effects and pull that away. If this song is just a piano and a vocal does it grab you as both? And for the most part the records we choose for the album they do that. They grab Dave and I at our core and I think that's so important.
MT: Is it done?
D: No, we still have a lot of work to do and we are making some great progress. About 70, 80%.
C: we are up there, but we are tweak heads. And our manager, he's a bastard.
MT: Tell me something people might not know about the other person.
D: I can go first. I tell you what, Chad is really into photography he just started. He's a newbie but it's cool to see.
C: Oh yea I'm a newb. I try to act like I know what I'm doing, but I don't.
MT: What do you take pictures of?
C: My little daughter man. Ha-ha. It's not weird I promise.
When Dave moved to Austin he was so so young and I feel like over the course of the relationship with him he's turned into an awesome man. It's super cool to watch. I was able finally to get all my iPhotos imported and it had all these old pictures of my first trip to his hometown of Washington DC with him and I taking pictures with his sh*tty camera. I found this picture of Dave where he looks like he's 8 and Caroline and I were like "Oh my god he's changed so much."
MT: Do you still have that picture?
C: Yeah but you aren't getting it!