Caged Animals is a pop music project by Vincent Cacchione with Magali Francoise, Talya Rose Cacchione, Patrick Curry, and Andrew Hoepfner. They are based in New York City.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name’s Vincent Cacchione. I’m a songwriter/producer with a project called Caged Animals. I write pop songs that deal with non-pop subject matter. As a songwriter, I come from the folk tradition but my deepest roots are stained with the grime of DIY punk rock.
I started making recordings as Caged Animals in 2009 a few weeks after my car was destroyed in an accident in NYC. In lieu of getting a new car, I took the money I received, bought my first computer, and began recording music in my bedroom. The initial energy surrounding the project was experimental.
I had been writing songs for a while (as solo performer and in bands), but it was all based in traditional forms: written words on a page set to melodies/chord structures. Getting access to a laptop began to open a lot of other compositional doors and the project evolved and grew its identity that way.
I was lucky enough to find some people who found this music interesting and wanted to get it into the world (shout out to Lucky Number Music), so it became obvious I’d need to play live, which was absolutely terrifying.
Again luck was on my side and some of my closest family and friends came on board to help me accomplish this. I now share the good Caged Animals name with my partner, Magali, sister, Talya, and close friends Pat and Andrew; who are all amazing artists in their own right and have given so much to take this bedroom project out into the world.
How has living in New York City affected your music? New York City is a pressure cooker but there is inspiration and energy in every corridor of this place. I have spent most of my adult life working and creating here so it’s permeated every aspect of me and what I do. Many of the characters and ideas that inspire me are taken directly from my experience of the city. A great example is a song called “The Turnaround” from our most recent EP. The lyrics are inspired by a guy I worked with at my first NYC job. When I was eighteen I came to NYC to study English at Hunter College. To pay the rent, I got a job as a receptionist at the Gotham Comedy Club.
During my tenure at the club, I came into contact with so many amazing characters, most of whom were aspiring actors and actresses. The energy that these people had stayed with me, and years later I was moved to write about one particular person for “The Turnaround.”
Describe your current studio or practice space. Magali and I have lived in a railroad apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn for the last six years. The street facing room of the apartment is our studio space and we’ve recorded and mixed hundreds of songs here! It’s got wooden floors, high ceilings, and beautiful Spanish voices echoing through the halls. If you listen closely you’ll be able to hear some of these Latin ghosts on our records.
What kinds of things are influencing your music right now? My partner Magali Charron’s street photography. The disappearance of Chris Metallic, a young man from New Brunswick, Canada, who mysteriously went missing a few years back. Driving my car in the Hudson Valley. Coffee. Stephen King’s great book, “On Writing.”
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? We just released an EP called “The Overnight Coroner (and other people who did their jobs).” It’s a concept record which examines people at work. I was so inspired by the character I had written about for the title track (The Overnight Coroner Attends A Party) that I decided to take him a bit further and wrote a novella length story about him. The EP is a multimedia release that combines four songs and this story.
How did your interest in music begin? My parents played a lot of music for me as a kid. My mom loved The Beatles and Bowie and my Dad idolized Waits, Reed, and Dylan. I think these juxtapositions in taste go a long way to make sense of my songwriting.
As far back as I can remember, music was the only work I ever had any interest in doing. Like a lot of people my age, Nirvana helped me find a voice for that desire by turning me onto punk and DIY.
After Kurt’s death, a lot of us were really sad and confused. I picked up Michael Azerrad’s great book “Come As You Are,” and it lead me to the primary things that had influenced Kurt and Nirvana. Discovering punk rock changed my life.
The rawness of this music and tenderness of being so young when I discovered it made me think that I could do it too. The concept of DIY energized me to actually do it.
I feel my story is pretty typical, but it takes absolutely none of the beauty out of it: my friends and I recorded on four-tracks, booked our own shows, and built ourselves and alternate world out of the passion we had for music. This mentality is still what drives me today, and Brooklyn is a great place to experience it. There are thousands of people here doing that exact thing. I love being surrounded by fearlessly creative people.
What other musicians/bands are you interested in right now? I love the most recent Dirty Projectors album “Swing Lo Magellan.” The combination of experimental arrangements/production with beautifully composed melodies and thoughtful words is the exact sort of thing I aspire to. Chad VanGaalen, Destroyer, Cass McCombs, John K. Samson are all perennial favorites of mine.
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? This year I hope to write at least one song with each one of my closest friends.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after hearing your music? I want people to feel inspired. The music that I love makes me want to create something beautiful, to add something to the conversation, to contribute. My ultimate goal is to give that energy to someone else. It’s one of the highest experiences of spirituality in my opinion.
What were you like in high school? The same weirdo I am now with a higher pitched voice and more extreme taste in music. On the inside, almost nothing has changed.