Cholo-Goth Duo Prayers Talks Music Revolution, Donald Trump & More at Coachella

Prayers coachella 2016
Mike Windle/Getty Images for Coachella

Leafar Seyer of Prayers performs onstage during day 3 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Club on April 17, 2016 in Indio, Calif.

Sporting a very goth look with an all-black outfit incorporating cowboy boots and a tejana, Rafael Reyes -- who goes by his stage name Leafer Seyer (his name spelled backward) -- jumped onstage at Coachella to give what he described as "Sunday's sermon."

"It's Sunday, you better be saying your prayers," the Prayers frontman yelled to a crowd that was more than ready to worship their music.

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The throbbing beats of punk rock mixed with synthesizers accompanied harsh lyrics about real-life problems Seyer himself has gone through as a onetime gang member and alcoholic.

After Prayers' performance at the Mojave stage, Billboard sat down with the cholo-goth duo -- composed of Seyer and beat-master David Parley -- to talk about what cholo-goth music really is, how their Mexican culture has helped shape them as artists, and about Donald Trump, who got a shout-out from Seyer while performing at Coachella. (Seyer did all the talking during the interview)

You've described cholo-goth as revolutionary music -- can you expand more on that?

It's revolutionary music on so many levels. We are empowering people through the music and we empower ourselves throughout the process. We break stereotypes and barriers with the music that we're doing. We're just trying to empower others and give back. 

You're considered the pioneer of this new genre, but how or when were you introduced to goth music? 

Things just star off organically on its own. I was in a process of self-discovery, and cholo-goth is really about self-awareness. I've always known that I, myself, have been to the dark esthetics of life, and that's just kind of where my path led me.

You also incorporate spirituality into your music, correct?

I'm more in love with just studying everything that we as humans have created for us to kind of maneuver to this thing called life. And we use religion and so many different things to find ourselves or make sense of the world. In a way, I'm doing the same thing with the music that we are creating.

What did music do for you when you found yourself in the dark paths of life?

It saved my life. Before this, I was using all this energy and everything that I had into violence. Music has given my violent tendencies an outlet. Now, I'm using that energy for good, instead of harming myself and others. Before I had all this energy and no one was able to receive it in a way that was productive or that was going to help me or others. It was just destructive energy, and I have a lot of destructive energy in me, more than any other type of energy, and once I found this platform, it allowed me to channel that energy into what you see now.

The way you dress and carry yourself onstage, is that part of the revolution as well?

It's a vision. Everything has to be congruent with each other. The sound, the way we dress, the way we speak, the way we carry ourselves. We're just being true to ourselves. We don't allow anyone else to have a say or have an opinion about what Prayers is; our opinion is the only one that matters. What we wear is very very important because it's how we find identity and separate ourselves from everyone else.

Onstage you manifest so much confidence but still are able to maintain humble and true to who you are and represent. 

I always describe myself as "humble arrogant." I am not going to put anyone down, but I'm also not going to let anyone put me down and steal my greatness or belittle what we do. We wouldn't be here if what we were doing wasn't anything less than amazing. 

Can you explain the message you sent out about Donald Trump during your performance, when you said "don't let that piece of sh-- divide us"?

The thing is, that he is just trying to separate us. We're all from different colors and races and we're all great. I don't want people of color, a group of people I belong to, to start looking at white people differently because of him. It's a topic that needs to be addressed, but the language used to talk about this needs to be accurate. 

How has your Latino culture helped you become the artist you are now?

It has helped me in so many ways, beginning with the passion that us Mexicans have. We're also very hard-working! Some of us arrive to the United States without education, papers, yet we still thrive. So no one can compare to that spirit that we have. We are people that know what suffering is, and when you understand what suffering is, you know how to deal with life. Yes, we're humble people, but I came here to show everyone that we're royalty. I'm tired of people thinking that we're just the dishwashers, landscapers, etc. 

You just released your song "Black Leather" featuring Kat Von D. How did that collaboration come about?

It was a very natural and organic collaboration. David and I recorded the song and we thought it'd be great to incorporate a female voice to the track. Our friend Travis Barker told us about Kat Von D, gave her a call, and we met her after. She listened to the song, loved it, then came to the studio and she did something amazing with the song. 

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