Beyond the Surface: Powerflo's Sen Dog

To be one’s true self is the goal in life. This blog series would not exist if it werent for a reunion with an old friend who had all the makings of a modern-day Mozart. But at a pivotal fork in the road, he chose the path behind a desk, instead of one behind a keyboard, which would’ve honored his gift - like Mozart did. Now, 20 years later, he’s unrecognizable, this friend who once had music radiating from every cell, especially when singing in random bursts of happiness. The years have taken their toll - not just in the added 20 pounds that don’t belong, but in the heaviness that comes when living someone elses life, and not one’s true purpose. The life you came here to live.

As a writer, this inspired me to highlight the special souls who chose to follow their true path. The tougher path, but one that honors and expresses the powerful gift of music they’ve been given. To live the Mozart life. May some of their words help or inspire you to find your true calling in life.

Melding hip-hop, metal, punk, and rock, Powerflo is the vision of Grammy-nominated multiplatinum Cypress Hill rapper Sen Dog, downset guitarist Rogelio “Roy” Lozano, Biohazard vocalist and guitarist Billy Graziadei, ex-Fear Factory bassist Christian Olde Wolbers, and Worst drummer Fernando Schaefer. Their self-titled debut album Powerflo was released last month. Sen Dog talks about topics that include what inspires his music and how one knows when they’re on the right path in life. Powerflo is on tour this month, starting July 8 in Fresno.

How did you know that this is your life path, your calling? How does someone know when they’re on the correct path?

I knew that we were on the right path because our demos were banging and I really believed that we were on to something different. You have to believe it in your heart that you are on the right path…that's a spiritual moment that you will have at some point.

Life gives us catalysts, a release valve, which often is our lowest point in life, that allows us to push up to the next, hopefully better chapter. Like a desert, wilderness period in life, that helps raise our consciousness and stay true to yourself and your own path. What was that low point for you that helped you push yourself further, evolve and do better, and what did you do when you had that epiphany?

I think that moment for me happened when I was 40 years old and suffered a heart attack. It was my lowest point as I felt I was gonna die. I promised myself that when recovered I was gonna turn my life around and not live with any regret or leave anything unaccomplished.

How do you find inspiration for the music? Is there somewhere deep within where the inspiration comes from?

I find inspiration for music in every day life.

Do you have a daily musical process?

My daily musical process is simply to listen to my favorite artists, drawing inspiration throughout the day, so that by the time I get to the studio to drop my vocals I am completely fired up and ready.

When did you know you had this gift of music and how did it manifest for you? How did you start to do the human discipline it takes to channel your gift, hone it and bring it forth?

I didn't know anything about a gift for music but I knew I wanted to do hip-hop music when I first saw RUN-DMC perform on TV when I was 17 years old. The discipline it takes for this kind of work I had to acquire over a period of time as my career got started.

There are divine moments of serendipity, where a catalyst opens the door that leads to the path we’re meant to be on, the one where we live out the fullest expression of our true selves, when we are most true to ourselves. What was that moment for you and how did it happen?

I think that divine moment occurred for me when I started to write for this project that would eventually turn out to be Powerflo. The tracks I was given to write by Roy Lozano early on really felt like I could be myself and express myself as Senen Reyes, the person who has a lot of musical thoughts constantly.

What inspired this blog series was seeing an old friend who has a special gift of music, but didn’t choose that path, who, 20 years later, isn’t living the life he thought he would live. People who make music and get to travel the world doing so are a rare example of a life where one is able to honor and channel their gift of music. What are your thoughts? And do you feel you’re consciously living the life you thought you would be living?

I am not living the life I thought I would be living when I was younger. I always had a job back in those days and I knew that if I never made in music I would always have a job as I was not and still am not a lazy man. I think musicians and artists that travel the globe to perform are actually enhancing their creativity by what they see and the different cultures they take in.

I’ve said in that blog post about living the Mozart life, that it may be a tougher road to choose, but you’re fully living your true selves, being most true to yourself. Do you resonate to that? You did not choose the 9 to 5 path.

I can agree with the Mozart life thing…it's definitely the tougher road but I can say that when we made our choice to become full time hip hop musicians in those days we were definitely looked on as outcasts if you will…but I felt free as a person to dress differently than everyone else and do things that other people weren't doing. I guess it made me happy.

But to embark on this path you chose, was that difficult? You didn’t know you would get here.

It was not a difficult path to choose because we’ve always been involved in some kind of entertainment or another. If we got there or not was not gonna break my heart as I was prepared to work a 9 to 5 at any time. The fact that my younger brother got signed and started putting records out in 1988 also gave us confidence to go for ours.

What is your idea of success, especially on the path you chose?

My idea of success is building a brand from the floor up and maintaining that brand from there on.

It’s been a tough time for music, losing many of its legends or those we grew up with whose music was our soundtrack. What are your thoughts on time, how it seems to go by faster each year. Perhaps it’s made you reflect on what you want to achieve in the time we’re given here? Do you think about time much and what you want to achieve in the time we have?

My thoughts on time is that the more responsibility you take on the quicker your life breezes by because you made your life so busy. I also feel that you should chase your dreams in life because time is not promised and yes we have lost a lot of musical icons lately but all I can say is iconic musicians are people too and we all got to leave from here at some point.

Unlike any time in history, we’re in a overwhelming digital era. There is so much detritus, noise and schadenfreude. What’s your view on that, and how do you find quiet in this era? What do you do to connect with your Higher Self, your true self? How do you ground yourself, focus on your own life path and purpose?

I connect with my higher self by using cannabis to help me go where I feel at one with myself and disconnect from everyday madness that we encounter on this planet. It's not difficult for me to void out something that does not agree with my flow. I have learned how to tune shit out.

I’m a firm believer in doing mitzvahs, especially in the tougher times of our lives. To give back, be of service in some way, to use our time most wisely, can only help us in the end. What are your thoughts and do you try to do your own mitzvahs to help others, even in the smallest way?

I try to be a dependable son, brother, father.

What advice do you have for people who have the gift of music, but don’t know how to start channeling it, to develop that gift and bring it out?

My advice for a struggling or young musician is that you must believe in yourself even when those closest to you don't. It's not easy to pick up a guitar and think you're gonna be the next Slash or Jimmy Page but someone has to do it. Celebrities aren't born celebrities…you work hard as fuck and then if you are prepared when opportunity presents itself, shit will manifest.

What do you do to help pick yourself up when you’re feeling down, and help you stay the course? Is there a song you play that inspires you when you’re needing some inspiration or to pick yourself up?

I pick myself up by listening to heavy metal and classic hip hop. Those two genres have always connected to real life.

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