The ClubPlanet Interview: Tritonal

The ClubPlanet Interview: Tritonal

by DJ Ron Slomowicz

Getting their start in the trance scene, Tritonal (the duo of Chad Cisneros and Dave Reed) gained early support from big names like Armin van Buuren, Above and Beyond, Ferry Corsten, and Markus Schulz. Their debut album ‘Piercing the Quiet,’ released in 2011, featured eight top 20 Beatport singles (five of which topped the Trance chart). They’ve expanded their sound with the Metamorphic EP series, which encompassed progressive and electro and spawned the massive hit single “Now or Never.”  With the new single “Colors” exploding and a third EP on the way, it’s easy to see why they’ve developed such a massive legion of fans, who call themselves ‘Tritonians.’

RS: You guys arrived here into Nashville yesterday to do some songwriting, how did that go?
Dave: It was awesome, we have had some great writing sessions over the last couple of days and we are excited to be here.

RS: How often do you actually get to be in the studio with another person rather than working online with them?
Chad: Not that often. We work with artists all over the world, so the fact of the matter is that it is just more convenient to do stuff online as opposed to what we have done the last couple of days. It just isn’t feasible to fly to somewhere like Switzerland overnight. It is really cool to get the guitar and pianos out and just come from a super organic place.  There is a special vibe and synergy that happens when you are in the studio with the person and we have experienced that, and we want to do more of that coming up.

RS: When you worked with Maggie Eckford, did she give you any fashion advice?
Chad: I heard about the BlackWhiteAndDenim blog that she has going right now.  She didn’t give us any advice, but I am sure that she could have.

RS: On the fashion tip, are you rocking your special Nikes tonight?
Chad: Yes, I have my special Tritonal Nikes on and they are super comfy and really sporty.

RS: Is the music that you worked on today going to end up on a new album?
Chad: That is a good question and that is always the question. We never know; we just try and stay in a creative place and keep the flow going. Down the line we try to make those hard decisions with our entire team on whether it is going to be an EP, an album or a compilation, or whether it is just going to get trashed.

RS: As a long term fan of yours I have noticed that your sound has changed over the years; you guys have gone from trancy to more electro progressive house. What do you think has caused the change?
Dave: We really just want to stay fresh and be unique with our sound design; we don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. If that takes us down another journey to try new ideas with sound design, then it will, but we love where our direction is heading. We love to make music and that is exactly what we are doing.

RS: You are about to celebrate your Enhanced Sessions 250, what is going to be on there?
Chad: We are now co-owners of the Enhanced record label with our good buddy Will Holland. We are building a pretty cool roster and we have a couple of young men who are coming up pretty strong. We are A&Ring Estiva and Juventa’s records, so you are going to see some mixes from those two as well as some other artists and some of our new tracks. We have been A&R-ing a record called “Superhuman” that we played at Tritonia 050 in LA at The Wiltern. It was an exclusive record and it is actually going to be on our radio show Tritonia this week. We also have some new music and some tracks that we are playing out loud at the moment too.

RS: When you play for a festival like EDC or Electric Zoo, do you plan the set differently than you would for a club set or your radio show?
Chad: Absolutely. For a club set you get a couple of hours, so you can change it out and play longer tracks, and with a festival set you have usually 50-60 minutes and obviously those festivals are big moments in your career, so you want to play new mashups and debut new material- and every minute counts. For guys who play a lot of tracks, we like to carefully plan out what we want to do and we are very open about that. The crowd is there to see us, so we play Tritonal records and we spend time in the studio editing our tracks so that the experience for the fans is good. We are there to play big records that make our fans happy and that is all it is.

RS: Last time we spoke you guys were using iPads, record boxes, and SD cards when you were playing live, is that the same setup that you are using now?
Dave: We switched from the whole iPad set up to more of a Serato setup because we are now doing live visuals along with the music that we are running. We want to run all of the content from the stage and have our hands on everything. We have our music running with our visuals and our visuals are running alongside our music in synch from the deck. We are still playing off of the CD-Js, but all the content is streaming off of our laptop.

RS: Where do you get the visuals from, are they made for you?
Chad: We actually arranged and edited every single video ourselves. We had a 3D-modeled Tritonal world built for us by some very professional teams and we were able to take those worlds and elements and get our fingers really dirty in Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere. A couple of months ago we had a crash course and spent about 2-3 months just editing videos. Now everything is just staying current, if there is a new Tritonal remix or a new record that we like and know that we are going to play it for a long time we will create an exclusive visual for that entire track. All the tracks that we are playing tonight have a story that go with them visually.

RS: How important do you think the visual element is these days?
Chad: Massive, it is just as important as the music and it is part of the experience. The LED walls are insane and so are the capabilities now to not only synch LEDs, lasers, and lights, but to also synch pyro, cryo, and fireworks. It is crazy and there is always more that comes out. There is something that happens magically when you connect both sonically and visually. When you know a track that you love and you are singing it while watching the lyrics on stage and being inundated with some cool texture it is just a better human experience.

RS: Talking about a human experience, two of your songs have gone bigger than massive. When you made “Colors” and “Now Or Never,” did you have any idea that they would become as big as they did?
Chad: Honestly when we heard “Now Or Never,” I told Dave that it was going to be a massive smash. I believe that sometimes you hear something and you know instantly that it is amazing, and that is what happened with “Colors” and “Now Or Never.”  We didn’t know what level or that they would get signed to a major but we knew that it was dope. We had an instinct and we reworked “Now Or Never” 6-7 times, and there are 5 versions that no one will ever hear that are completely different tracks. We wanted to keep going until we had that feeling about our melodies the way that we did about Phoebe’s melody. It is almost harder when you get a topline that is so amazing to match the music so they are equals. It took a little while to get those chords right.

RS: Of course. One of the things talked about during EDC is how a lot of the big guys are all starting to sound exactly the same and at festivals it is the same sound for hours. What do you do to make your sound different or what inspires you to do that?
Dave: It really is all about the content that we have in our sets. We like to play mostly Tritonal tracks when we can, and we are doing so much with our sound design and changing the way that we are and taking the path of our line of productions and infusing that into our sets. We feel that separates us apart from other sets. With that being said we do throw in some of the big drop tracks and like to infuse some of those ideas with our own, but we want to stay unique and set ourselves apart from everyone else and that is what we strive for.  

RS: Talking about the big guys, how did it feel when you got approached to remix the Armin track or the Zedd track? 
Dave: It was an honor to be able to take and put our own spin on the tracks that we already loved and now we are playing them.

RS: With such an insane touring schedule, how do you maintain that healthy balance and keep a healthy lifestyle when you tour and are in the studio so much?
Dave: Chad and I we don’t really party, we don’t do drugs, and we don’t go out late unless we are at a gig. When we are at home, we are responsible and we wake up and workout and we are into production all day. Sometimes we take a day to rest, especially after shows and a long weekend and eat good food and get fat!

RS: There are more and more collaborations between DJs and big corporate sponsors. Are y’all working on anything like this?
Chad: No but I am a big fan of G-Star and Diesel and would love to get there, but we haven’t tried to do that yet. We are so busy just trying to finish music and spend time with our families and stay current on touring and music. We do 2 radio shows a week, which might be too much, and we do a ton of mashups and remixes, and we have a new EP that is going to drop. It’s called Metamorphic III which is the finale of this 3-part series. When we started the EP it was the introduction of the triangle which has 3 sounds. The word metamorphic has the ‘to change’ connotation to it and so we wanted to take the 3-sided approach to EPs instead of just popping out an album like anyone can do and like we did with Piercing The Quiet.  Now that we are coming close to the end of this, we are kind of getting interested in thinking about another album, but it is a big undertaking. We don’t know if it is right and if “Colors” and “Now Or Never” should be on it, but it is a fun conversation to have. We just finished the EP and we are really excited to show all our Tritonians, nobody has heard it yet.

RS: The Tritonians are some of the most loyal fans out there. What is the craziest thing that they have done lately?
Chad: They are always doing crazy stuff; they don’t even wait for the new merch they are always coming up with their own new merch lines with different hats and shirts!

RS: Going back to the radio shows, where do you find the music that you play?
Dave: We get promos that are sent to us every week and sometimes every day. Usually every Monday we get a slew of eMails that we have to go through, so there is a lot for us to weed through. We like to tailor our sets to how Tritonal form is and there are a lot to dig through. Some tracks are not so great and some are awesome and we set them aside. Usually we spend a good day going through promos and we still go through records when we are traveling.
Chad: You kind of have to, I don’t want to be a little diva but it is a lot of work for a little reward, you really have to dig for these records! Coming back to your question about the music all sounding the same; making music is hard, there is a reason that people play the same tracks and it’s because those tracks are awesome. Everyone wants to play awesome songs and everybody is trying to make music, but the fact of the matter is that there is a whole lot of crap out there and there is a lot less amazing, groundbreaking music.

RS: Aside from Estiva and Juventa, who are some other talents that we should watch out for?
Chad: There are a bunch of young guys coming up quick, we just did a collab with Paris Blohm who has been on tour with us and he is an amazing kid and a cool guy. I would say Lush & Simon are making moves as well; we still play “Adrenaline.” There are a lot of peeps that are coming up in the game but those two really stand out.

Interview conducted June 2014.

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