Tritonal Hits Seattle at the Dada Land Compound: Interview
Tritonal Hits Seattle With Their Electric Glow
Dada Land Compound took Seattle by storm, featuring (of course) Dada Life, as well as Tritonal, Bixel Boys, and Andybody. There were champagne bottles, bananas everywhere, tons of Rolling Stone T-shirts and even a pillow fight. Before the craziness ensued, we had the pleasure of hanging out with Chad and Dave from Tritonal.
In case you didn’t know, Tritonal consists of duo Chad Cisneros and Dave Reed from Austin, Texas. They are co-owners of the Enhanced Music label, and also stay busy with two radio shows a week, Enhanced Sessions and Tritonia. They are in the midst of a series of EP releases dubbed Metamorphic (I,II, and III). We appreciate them sitting down during their busy schedules!
OTB: How did you guys establish the idea of Tritonia and the Tritonans and how has that affected your fan base?
Chad: I guess that was just a funny idea, wasn’t it? A tritone is a diminished fifth, it’s a chord. Tritonal is also an explosive, so we just love the name. We obviously had the name for about two or three years before Tritonia and the Tritonians came about.
Dave: I think it was a reply to a funny post from somebody who was saying something like talking about the unity of the group. They needed their own little name and it just kind of spawned out a funny post and went from there really.
OTB: I saw you at Exchange (Los Angeles) a while back and you (Chad) loved the CO2 gun. Do you have anything planned for tonight?
Chad: In terms of special effects? Yeah, we’re pretty big on special effects this year.
Dave: We love our special effects. There’s not only CO2, we got all kinds of things.
Chad: We don’t travel with the gun for the bigger shows.
Dave: I think it works really well on the smaller shows, because it’s super impactful, but for festivals and stuff and tonight there will be streamers and confetti and big cryo jets. But the main thing to note is we run our own visuals form behind the booth now, so everything is synced. Every single track we play has a video that we’ve basically produced. So we’re running Serato DJ into mad mapper and running videos.
OTB: What are your views on the current state of trance?
Chad: I mean, we come from trance. Let’s be honest.
Dave: We love trance melodies and progressions. We’ve grown in our own way. We’re not going away from trance because it’s not what we want to do, that’s what naturally ended up happening from an artistic point of view. And we bloomed in that direction. With trance it ended up being something that wasn’t where our hearts were leading us to.
Chad: I think even when we were trance, we weren’t “real” trance. The guys like 00 Fleming and Simon Patterson and the old school trance guys that are now called psy–trance…we were never that. We were never 140 bpm, slamming repetitive beats all night. When we were trance, we were this new breed electro-infused version of it, like trance 2.0. Now we’re completely progressive house and electro. We don’t play trance at all, much less produce it. As for the current state of it? I have no idea because we’re so immersed in everything else.
“We’re not going away from trance because it’s not what we want to do, that’s what naturally ended up happening from an artistic point of view.”
OTB: I really loved “Seraphic”, it’s probably my favorite song you put out on Metamorphic III. What was the inspiration behind that?
Chad: Dude, we listened to so much Blackmill and John Hopkins and The Glitch Mob and all these artists that we don’t play because it’s not our brand or our energy on stage. I couldn’t drop Blackmill “Let It Be” in a Tritonal set. It would probably kill the room., but that’s the kind of musical food that we take in when we’re on airplanes. It’s a ton of chill-out. In fact, it’s probably almost all chill-out.
Dave: I think half my library is chill-out.
Chad: That’s pretty much all we listen to for pure pleasure. I listen to a lot dance music because I have to. I know every single record that’s out right now because we do two radio shows a week with Enhanced Sessions and Tritonia, so it’s my job to know who’s written what and how it may or may not work in a Tritonal set. So although I enjoy that from a musical pleasure side of things Seraphic came from wanting to write something that never has to be played live, but that should really only ever be listened to by putting on headphones and enjoying the music.
OTB: Do you think a lot of that’s just to get a break?
Chad: Yeah, definitely. We love big room stuff. We don’t release a lot of “put your fucking hands up” but I’m guilty of loving to drop a R3hab track. It’s so big.
Dave: I think with Seraphic, it just allowed us to be really creative and have an open mind when it comes to doing things we couldn’t do in dance music.
Chad: And it’s totally a break. It’s that peaceful place that you can go to.
OTB: What’s your favorite venue to play at in the US?
Chad: We’re festival dudes over clubs any day of the week. People can say what they want about the intimacy of the room. I like big lights, big LEDs, flames, firecrackers, pigeons, clowns…just the whole nine, throw it all in. I love big. For me it’s outdoors, but venue is tricky because there are some good ones around the US.
Dave: There’s a good one in Houston that we have played, Stereo Live it’s amazing.
Chad: Probably one of the best shows on the tour.
Dave: And recently we just played back to back at Ruby Skye and the production that we had there was awesome.
Chad: Sold it out two nights in a row. Create (in Hollywood) is a good venue. We moved into some theaters this year on the Colors tour so we’re not playing clubs in most cities now but bigger 1500-3000 person capacity rooms.
OTB: What was that moment that you realized this is what you wanted to do for your career?
Chad: I don’t know if we ever really believed it could happen. We knew we loved making music and we knew we’d love to be able to do it, but it felt like pipe dream, didn’t it?
Dave: It did. I grew up around a family that would support it, but at the same time we still gotta go to school, we still gotta do these things that are going to get you a job and a career and doing all these things so I can make music.
Chad: When I met Dave, I was in college pursuing a degree in economics and business. I was doing audio engineering on the side but I always thought that I would have a real job. I think we just committed. We basically gave ourselves (and our families kind of gave us) a year to get this out of our systems and really go for it. “Go fall on your face and we know you’ll be back.” But it took off enough to get us to year two. There was interest there, there were contracts there. In our first year we played Hawaii, we played LA, and we played outside of Texas. But we’re kind of always waiting for the other shoe to drop. That’s why we work so hard. I think in the back of our minds this whole thing could end tomorrow. So it just fuels the fire to keep writing records. We write a lot of music.
Dave: And I think that even if it wasn’t a career we’d still be writing music. It’s something that we just love to do.
OTB: What was the biggest challenge that you have faced on your journey so far?
Dave: Everything, actually.
Chad: Every time it seems like it’s the biggest deal. It’s like first grade you can’t imagine how you’re going to do second grade. And then when you’re in sixth grade or when you’re looking at pre-calculus every time it looks so much harder. Our recent thing is the change of genres, we were trance, we’re going to lose all our fans, everyone’s going to hate us…and a lot of people did.
Chad: Every obstacle is harder and harder. At first it was all about signing your first record and we signed with some small no name record label. Then it was getting with Anjunabeats and Armada and Flashover and then we had to get with a good booking agent. And then we started our own label, and then switched genres. I think if you look at our discography and go back to 2008 and look at the records in terms of being songs now, we were scatterbrained to a certain degree. We were trying to make music with too many elements. With writing good songs there’s talent, but then there’s also maturity. I think what we’ve gained over the last 18 months is maturity and what makes a good song good.
“I think in the back of our minds this whole thing could end tomorrow. So it just fuels the fire to keep writing records.”
OTB: And what do you think you’ve discovered?
Chad: I think we’ve discovered levels of vocalists we’ve been able to work with. We’re working with topline writers, where Dave and I can collab on the bridge and the pre-chorus and the first progression versus the main progression. Just song structure and what this idea of what makes a good hook. How do you do proper harmonies? What should the backings be? How should they be mixed? You can have the greatest lyrics and greatest hook in the world, but if it’s not arranged and mastered right, it’s a shit song. All the pieces have to be there.
Dave: That’s the nature of the process. Even when we were working with the topline writers, we’d realize that three hours later this was not a dope topline.
Chad: So I think that one of the biggest things that we learned was the time lapse between when you think something’s amazing and then you realize it’s not has gotten so much shorter. It used to be we had to write the entire track and not even listen to it for a few weeks to gain that outside perspective. Now we’re able to see it immediately or a few hours after making it.
Dave: Or while we’re making it.
Chad: “Now or Never” has such a good topline and with “Anchor” we knew it right away.
Dave: Another thing is we don’t like to do the same thing twice. We like to challenge ourselves to be versatile, hence “Seraphic” and all these different things that we like to do. And it’s a daily challenge.
Chad: You’ve got to dig a little deeper, work all the angles, and try to write as good of a song as you can. We’re coming off the back of some big tunes. “Colors” and “Now or Never” are Billboard dance chart tracks. If we’re going to move forward there’s a bar and it’s up here. We see certain guys at the level where we want to be and we know they’re up there because they’ve written really amazing songs. Good songs that have connected. Maybe you don’t like them and maybe I don’t like them, but obviously millions of people do like them.
OTB: Well it definitely sounds like you guys are constantly pushing that bar for yourselves.
Chad: I think that’s what makes it fun, it’s like Groundhog Day otherwise. I can get that perspective from a money point of view. If you’ve got a sound and it’s hot and there’s some stupid money to be made, I can see getting after that. But it’s going to get cheap fast. Because we’re making melody tracks, each song needs to be its own. It’s not like a banger where you can just switch the kick and change the sample before the drop.
I would like to give a shout out to Erik Skoog for assisting with the interview as well as a special thanks to Chad and Dave for taking the time out to speak with us.
Bonus Throwback Track
Do you like the older trance that Tritonal made or the new Progressive/Electro better?
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