Each month, Brooklyn Based unveils an exclusive, new song by a Brooklyn band, recorded at Nadim Issa’s state-of-the-art recording studio in Gowanus, Let ‘Em In Music. This month’s mp3, “Blonde Magic,” is by Soft Black.
Soft Black’s Vincent Cacchione finds inspiration even in his sleep.
The Brooklyn resident by way of New Jersey mines images from his dreams and nightmares to inspire almost all of his band’s gritty, folk-rock jams. This post’s exclusive track “Blonde Magic”–a reluctant outtake from Soft Black’s upcoming album The Witching Hour–actually stands as a rare exception to this rule.
“A lot of my songs are influenced by my dreams. This one is not,” says Cacchione, whose voice and composition style is often likened to a modern-day Neil Young. He notes that he changed up the chorus lyrics just hours before the recording session with Nadim Issa at Let ‘Em In Studios, another rare move for him.
“I was really trying to listen to my words and see what they made me feel,” Cacchione explains. “All of a sudden, I felt like I was at the bottom of a really deep well. I felt other people running around me, touching me with their arms, and I just felt like we were all stuck down there together staring at the light shining down.
“So I wrote exactly that, and the song felt more real to me,” says Cacchione. The song’s meaning deals with power dynamics, he says. “It’s a little bit about the idea that we might actually like the ways in which we are confined and forced into submissive roles.”
Soft Black began in the mid-2000s as an acoustic solo project and frequent open mic act at Manhattan’s Sidewalk Café. When Cacchione’s ambitions expanded past one-instrument compositions, he opted to recruit a backing band in time for 2007 release Blue Gold. Current band members include longtime friend Patrick Curry on bass, fellow New Jersey native Christopher Ibrahim on electric piano, and Mike “The Mid” Stefanov on drums.
“A finished Soft Black song is both collaborative and solitary by nature,” says Cacchione of their current full-band approach. He generally handles the melodies, lyrics, and chord changes for each track, but welcomes arrangement interpretation and tweaks from band members.
“Our brains are so beautifully disturbed and off-center, so I try not to filter out what comes naturally,” he says. “I heard Lou Reed say that when he writes a song, it’s almost like it’s being beamed to him from some faraway radio station that only plays his songs. That seems a lot like what I feel.”
Earlier this month, Soft Black opened for fellow Brooklynites Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers at Brooklyn Bowl–a reunion of sorts, given Ray’s guest vocals on the band’s 2009 track “Did You Put A Spell On Me?”
Cacchione met the dynamic front woman–whose singing voice he lovingly compares to that of “a chain-smoking dove”–through mutual friend and NYC show musician, Frank Hoier, who’d devised a bill a few years back that included them both.
“By the time I got up there I was pretty drunk, and she obviously was, too,” Cacchione explains. “She approached me from the audience during my set and asked if I’d sing a Rolling Stones song with her.
“I didn’t know any Rolling Stones songs, so I said yes,” Cacchione jokes. “She got on stage, and we did some crazy version of ‘Wild Horses.’ I knew right then we’d probably be friends for life.”
Naturally occurring collaborations like these are part of why Cacchione loves living in Brooklyn. “I love knowing so many amazing musicians and artists.”
He continues: “I love playing and seeing shows at the various DIY spots around town. Death By Audio, Shea Stadium, Silent Barn, Market Hotel. The people that run those venues are really cool to bands and care about making it a good experience for the audience. “
In 2011, Soft Black fans can get their hands on new EP We Scatter Light from local label Old Flame Records, as well as newly-finished LP The Witching Hour, releasing later this year.
Live band photo taken at Brooklyn Bowl on Jan. 21 by Chris Becker. Text and studio photo by Sarah Lynn Knowles, the Brooklyn-based writer and editor behind pop culture blog sarahspy.com and art/fiction/music journal storychord.com. Her favorite ways to fill free time include live music, bloody marys, and fiction writing.