DJ life is great. You wake up, make some music on a jet plane, head to the gig in Vegas, party all night, make a million dollars, pass out, wake up, repeat. It’s a fairy tale — except when it’s not.
“You can carry that lifestyle for a year or two, maybe three, but eventually most people run that course and burn it out,” says Chad Cisneros, one half of Austin DJ duo Tritonal. “That’s why a lot of rock stars are dead early in life, because they did that exact thing. We’ve been touring now eight years, and that’s on the back of trying to eat well, meditation and exercise — you know, mental fitness.”
Cisneros and his partner Dave Reed learned temperance the hard way. They want to share their story to help others learn from their mistakes, so they’re donating streaming royalties from new single “Love U Right,” featuring vocals from Lourdiz, to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, to raise awareness of mental health within music. It’s an upbeat summer anthem that, at face value, sounds like a love song about helping your friends, family and significant others in their time of need, but the guys also think it’s a message about loving yourself.
“I think there’s a lot of consciousness expanding experiences that can happen [with drugs]. However, for some of us, like myself, drugs and alcohol were used as medication for more of an internal condition or a spiritual malady,” Cisneros says. “I used to mention ‘getting right’ in normal speech, meaning that being high meant to be okay internally. It wasn’t about some exhilarating experience, It was just about trying to be okay in the moment. Eventually, that stopped working for me, and no amount was sufficient to bring about that internal peace that I longed more. I mean, fuck happiness and exhilaration, I just wanted to not feel like I wanted to die.”
After decades of substance abuse, Cisneros is proudly sober twelve years and running. Reed continues to struggle with anxiety and depression, but together, they find the strength to work on their mental fitness and approach their lives and business with bright eyes and clear minds.
“I tend to think too much in my head and say things that are incorrect when I know that I should know better, and it’s a domino effect for me,” Reed says. “I’ll spend fifteen minutes on what am I going to say or do…and then I just don’t even do anything at all. Performances, jumping up on stage, issues with weight, being self-conscious. There’s a lot, and I have no problem saying I’m working on those things. I understand there are a lot of people going through that as well.”
“We all have the things in us that we need to work on,” Cisneros adds. “I harp on meditation a lot, but going inward and being still allows your subconscious and your super-conscious to work those things out while you’re the bystander. I truly believe that we are not our thoughts. We’re not a culmination of our experiences or this physical body, but that the focal point of consciousness behind those things. We can be the awareness behind them, and meditation allows you to be the awareness, step back and put some space between the crazy and the real you.”
Today, Cisneros co-owns a treatment facility, a detox center and five sober living homes that promote mental wellness. He hopes to be an example of awareness for young kids who get into the dance music scene today.
“For kids that want to live this lifestyle,” he says, “Who absolutely are passionate about dance music, I think it’s important for them to see guys who our seasoned, not in their first or second or third your of touring…and who actually promote mental fitness.”
“Love U Right” approaches the issue with the same exuberant bounce Tritonal is known for. The guys want to promote health and happiness hand in hand. It’s a smiling riff that reminds us to be in the moment, look out for ourselves and our loved ones, and always strive to be our very best.
It’s out everywhere Friday, July 20, but you can listen to it below exclusively on Billboard Dance.