Posted June 20, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

Sie7e Gets the Psychedelic Reggae Vibe Going on New Album


After five years, Sie7e, a Latin Grammy-winning musician and activist for veganism and animal rights, has returned with a new album. This time, he has embraced psychedelic reggae music. He thinks of the album, Gaia, as a call for activism and healing the world. He recorded it while jamming with his collaborators, the Islanauts.

We recently spoke to Sie7e via phone from his Puerto Rico home where he was working on a virtual concert that he’ll post in support of the new album. “There’s a really cool visual part to it,” he says. “I have a friend from Mexico who’s really good with animation. I was like, ‘Dude, we have one week. Let’s make this cool and trippy and fun.’ It’s us playing the whole album from top to bottom. It’s really exciting.” 

You were born in Puerto Rico. Talk about your background. 
I was born in Puerto Rico but lived in Texas for a few years with my mom and dad and then came back to Puerto Rico. At 17, I went to college in Florida. I’ve been mostly in Puerto Rico. It’s an amazing place in many ways. It’s a very old colony. The social and political and economic and cultural relationship puts us in a very specific position. You can see it in the music. I think that’s why there are so many artists who actually make it. I think it has to do with our heritage and culture but also that we can see how two worlds that never relate operate. You can feel it in our music and on this album specifically, where we’re going for reggae. We’re not trying to change music forever. We wanted to have fun and jam and live in the moment and not polish it a lot and just mix it. That’s why I mixed it myself. It’s a very personal project. I’ve been in different projects and played with a symphonic orchestra from India and hip-hop/R&B group and an alternative rock band from Puerto Rico. I even played in a flamenco project. Now, I’m trying to be a singer-songwriter. Ever since that, I realized I wanted to say things and not just be a guitar player. I think that’ts where reggae came in. I started musically going more towards reggae. It’s a mother genre of many genres. It’s also an ego-free genre and carries other emotions too. 

How did you meet the Islanauts?
The one I know the longest is someone I have played with for 13 years. When I started out as Sie7e, I was looking for musicians, and I started looking around. This band is the third generation of the original band. It didn’t have the name the Islanauts back then. It was just Sie7e and the Guys. One of the things we wanted to change was that it’s not just Sie7e. It’s a collective. This collective has evolved. It’s a reggae jam band, and we love it. These guys are my brothers and my teachers. I think they’re all amazing. I met them all through musicians I know. Some are friends of band members who aren’t in the band anymore. These guys are just amazing. They’re so intuitive. One of the things I was going for was the ability to really improvise and get in the moment and not just rely on muscle memory. You can mess up, and that’s okay. 

I think it recalls Lee Scratch Perry in that it’s so off-kilter at times. 
Definitely. It’s inspired by Lee Scratch and many other things that have that psychedelic quality, from Pink Floyd to the Grateful Dead. We’re influenced by all these bands. There’s no single, and that’s the point. We want you to listen to the whole thing. It’s like a book. I miss those kinds of albums. I remember listening to the whole album and that gives you time to get in synchronicity with what the artist is trying to say. 

How’d you become a vegan? What’s the key to making the transition?Twenty-one years ago, I decided to not eat animals anymore. I didn’t know the word vegan existed. I was jogging on the beach. I used to live beach front. I would jog every morning with the sun rising, pink sky. It was just beautiful. I saw this fisherman. It even looked cool — his silhouette. I took a look into this bucket he had full of fish who were dying, and I don’t know . . . To this day, I can’t explain it. I felt something really horrible. It was this whole weird pain in my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack. I started crying. I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know what that was. I thought it had to do with me being a witness to that death. Watching that fish die just shook me and really changed my life. It was the last day I ate any animals. I started just not eating meat. In the beginning, I was a vegetarian because I would still eat cheese not knowing that cheese was as destructive. I started doing my research and became a strict vegan and have been for many years now. I started feeling amazing. I had high blood pressure and slowly everything vanished. I started working out and feeling good. I’m in my 40s now, and I honestly feel better than when I was in my 20s. That’s like the dumb and shallow benefits of it. The real benefit is that you are not killing. You have stepped out this horrific chain of death. It’s cruel to animals and it’s cruel to people and on top of it, it’s cruel to the environment. We all know the connections and why the fires and earthquakes and super hurricanes and pandemics. It’s all related to how we are treating animals. Just for that. On top of that, for those who are interested in those type of things, when your body feels better because you’re feeding it better, you’re healthier and you have more oxygen and you think better and you manage stress better and your problem solving skills get better. You get smarter and more intuitive. Your relationships become better. I swear. You become more empathic. You also suffer more. I’ve become quite the activist over the years, but I didn’t plan that. 

Puerto Rico seems to produce a number of politically minded artists. Why is that?
I think Puerto Rico has been exposed to a lot of things, and we have been victims of colonialism of the worst kind for a long time and local corruption of our own people. We are all victims. We need to be responsible and do something about it. On top of that, there’s the economic relationship with the United States. People are understanding that what England did to the United States, the United States did to Puerto Rico because Puerto Rico is tiny. Now people are understanding that there is something wrong. We found out through great investigative journalism in Puerto Rico about the corruption that it’s enough for people to organize. Last summer, we kicked out the governor. We didn’t end the problem. The corrupt system is still there, but we knocked one of the faces off. The cancer is still there. At least symbolically, we did something. 

If anything good can come of this pandemic, it could be simply that people become vegan and begin to be more engaged. 
Yes, if we become informed. We’re in the middle of an Information War. The people behind these industries that need to change don’t want to because they’re making a lot of money. Information Wars is one of the many tools they have for slowing down the process of people waking up to the right way to live. It’s either that or we will make it impossible to live on our planet. We’re almost there. 

It’s do or die. 
Remember this conversation my good friend. Soon, it’s going to be very obvious. 


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].