We only recently re-pubslished an article from Huff Post, but this one––based on an interview with Chad Cisneros of the electronic musical duo Tritonal––was so good we just had to share it.
You may read the original post here.
In gratitude, harmony, and support,
Tritonal’s Chad Cisneros Talks Struggle, Sobriety, and Infinite Recovery
Throughout the history of music, even recently with the deaths of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, there’s developed a pattern within our entertainment culture. A pattern made up of artists, their demons, and the perpetual narrative of substance abuse. It’s been apparent for years that we glamorized musicians’ partying nature with the notable slogan “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” This mantra itself has become a direct example of how prevalent the drug culture is in relation to musicians and their art. Many artists’ stories have ended tragically, with their demons on display for the whole world to see; their histories, struggles, and depictions of abuse publicized because it’s shocking, and an easy narrative to tell. But similar tales don’t always have to end in tragedy. For artists like Chad Cisneros of the electronic duo Tritonal, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. In Chad’s story, the path to salvation came through reflection, spirituality, and helping others find purpose and the strength to overcome.
When I reached out to Chad to discuss the interview, I had never talked to him before. I heard of his story, and I knew immediately that it was one I wanted to help him tell, and be a part of because it was one of inspiration and growth. I received an open letter from the man himself detailing his descent into abuse, and his realization that something needed to change before his life could expand and reach the potential that he desired. For many people, that realization comes after a lifelong struggle and eventual reaching of the familiar “rock bottom.” For Chad, the path to recovery didn’t just stand as an individual task, but as a desire to promote wellness and recovery to those who needed it most.
His story began the same way that most tales of dependence and addiction do: he found himself attached to a group of friends that gave him a sense of belonging, and fulfilled his desire to escape the stressors and unpleasantries of life. He’d found his people, a sense of belonging within the expansive group of outcasts that birthed the electronic scene. A group in which he would soon come to stand tall as an artist and musician.
“We loved having fun, going to underground raves, experiencing the pulsating rhythms of electronic music and being united together under an uplifting sound. I felt like I had found my tribe, my people, where I belonged. That said, alongside the positive unity that music can provide, my friends and I were also using substances as an escape mechanism from the anger, fear, loneliness, and uncertainty we felt in our lives.”
Like most stories of addiction, the escape became the means to an end, and Chad’s desire to go out and “feel good” snowballed into a dependence upon not only the substance itself, but the escape that it provided in terms of letting go of the things around him that caused him stress and anxiety. Eventually though, the escape disappeared, and all that was left was the realization that letting go was easier said than done.
“You know most people, given sufficient reason can moderate their drug or alcohol use. People can smoke a joint and be fine. They can have a healthy relationship with [stuff like] marijuana and use it when they want to use it. That’s just not my story or my truth because inherently I ingested alcohol and drugs for the effect produced. They were my solution. To deal with the selfishness, the irritability, and the discontent. With the boredom and the frustration that I felt toward people, places and things.”
It came to a point where Chad had moved on to a college environment and despite his lofty goals as a scholar, he found himself getting high before class simply as a means to get through the day. Eventually, he decided that enough was enough, and something within him had to change.
“I was stuck. I needed them to maintain, yet at the same time. They weren’t even fucking working anymore.”
For a long time, Chad held strong to the belief that all he needed to overcome his reliance on substance was willpower. He considered himself in control of his life, smart enough to shut down his dependence whenever he saw fit. He looked to groups like Alcoholics Anonymous as “cheerleaders,” a group of people who fed off of the support of others to get themselves through their addictions because they lacked the ability to do so on their own. To him, at the time, the idea of being an alcoholic or addict was foreign. It was a stigmatized label that didn’t belong to him. He was smart, he was social, he could overcome his needs any time that he set his mind to it. A mentality that users and abusers often cling to in a perpetual stage of denial as the level of control they have over their lives exponentially deteriorates.
Eventually, Chad recognized a point of full collapse, a moment of spiritual awakening that proved to him that if he didn’t pursue a path to recovery, his story would end far sooner than he’d ever expected. He realized that the way he could overcome his own struggles, was to commit entirely to recovery for both himself, and anyone else who fought the same demons he had been battling his entire life. From this journey of self discovery, Infinite Recovery was born. Chad had decided he needed to dedicate his life not only to staying sober, healthy, and spiritual, but also helping those who were struggling with the same anxieties, fears, and vices that had once dragged him to the depths of addiction.
“Infinite Recovery was originally a community center next door to one of Austin’s [Texas] premier 12-Step meeting halls. There was a coffee bar in there, and a place to meditate, then we started doing yoga. We started to open up. We started a men’s sober living house. That led to another house, and another. Now we’ve got seven homes, seventy beds of extended care sober living with Infinite Recovery right now.”
When all was said and done, their plan was working. Chad and his associates had built themselves up from being rock-bottom addicts themselves, to owning and operating a collective of sober-living homes in and around Austin, Texas. From the single community center positioned directly next to the twelve-step program, Chad and his co-founders created a positive environment for those dealing with addiction to build a new life for themselves. From that one community center came the men’s homes, and from there, Infinite Recovery was able to build upon itself, and now owns its first medically licensed outpatient program.
And so it was. The addict, the denier, the struggling young man who once cherished the escape handed to him by substance abuse now stood with open arms, accepting all who wished to find their way back from the grip of dependence. It’s amazing. An almost romanticized story that, without hearing it from the man himself, might be mistaken as fiction. But it’s an important depiction of redemption that’s extremely important within the boundaries of the entertainment world. Despite the glorification of rock stars, DJ’s, and entertainers, it’s a humbling reminder that those we see on stage are just as human as ourselves, and can fall just as easily.
“I didn’t ever approach this thinking, ‘let’s open a hospital.’ It was just a matter of ‘let’s invest our money in this, see if it goes anywhere, I think we’ve got a lot to give.’ We are the real deal.”
From the moment I began speaking with Chad, there was a passion and drive unlike any I’d experienced so far in my journalistic career. Throughout our entire conversation, I found myself enamored by his desire and enthusiasm; an energy that was palpable.
The electronic music scene itself was born from the idea of individuality, paired with (for better or worse) the expansion of one’s own consciousness through the use of psychoactive substances. It’s not so farfetched to believe that others like Chad have faced down their own demons, and either come out stronger on the other side, or found themselves consumed by the darkness within themselves. We hear about it every year as artists we know and love reveal their own personal struggles. But not all stories need to end in tragedy. As long as people like Chad continue to promote a positive outcome to the narrative of addiction and dependence. It’s a phenomenal cause that Chad has spent his time promoting and constructing on the foundation of his own vices.
As long as individuals maintain a positive influence and continue to give back in monumental ways to the scene, the industry, and the world as a whole, there’s hope for everyone.