By Peter Cronin
Saucy Monky’s Career Evolution
LA Duo Dazzle With Musical Forays Into TV & DIY Moxie
A lot has changed in the ten years since Cynthia Catania first ran into Annmarie Cullen at an indie songwriter night in LA. But through it all, these two singer/songwriters have never stopped doing what they do best – delivering concise, melodic, in-your-face, soul-baring songs that rock. Over the course of a long term collaboration known as Saucy Monky they’ve continually defied the odds, releasing a steady stream of critically acclaimed music and maintaining a strong following in LA’s notoriously fickle indie rock scene even as they refined the skills they would need to survive and prosper in the 21st century music business.
“We like to refer to ourselves as a one-stop shop,” Catania says. “Because of the production skills I’ve developed and Annmarie’s editing and directing skills, we’ve been able to make all of our records in-house and she’s made all of our videos in-house.”
From their very first collaboration, Catania and Cullen knew they had something special. A band formed around the songwriting team quickly and “organically,” and Saucy Monky released a debut EP, Celebrity Trash, in 2003 on their own olivoiL label.
“We had a very good vocal chemistry, and friends who came down to jam ended up in the band,” Cullen says. “It was never like, ‘Hey let’s form a band.’ It just sort of happened.”
Returning home to her native Ireland for Christmas, Cullen handed a copy of the EP to a DJ friend, who immediately began spinning the song, “Flicker.” That song and a followup, “Don’t Wanna Know Your Name,” became bona fide Irish hits, and Saucy Monky was soon sharing stages with the likes of Wilco, the Black Eyed Peas and Marianne Faithfull on the Irish festival circuit and as far east as the Czech Republic. In 2004, the band released Turbulence, their first full-length album, with leadoff single “I Touch Myself” (a remake of the Divinyls hit) becoming their third Irish success. The song was subsequently featured in the hit TV drama “Veronica Mars,” a portentous sign of things to come.
“Over the past few years, we’ve been lucky with a wide variety of film and TV placements,” Cullen says. “From Nickelodeon shows to And Then Came Lola, an indie gay movie that’s doing very well.”
Armed with a deep catalog of fully produced songs and a bottomless list of contacts in the music and film communities, Saucy Monky is turning their attention more and more toward onscreen opportunities.
“That’s becoming a point of focus for us for sure,” Catania says. “Things have changed with the business. The way indies make money now is through song placements. I see that as a point of evolution for Saucy Monky.”
Saucy Monky is evolving quickly. Having retained ownership of their publishing and their recordings over the years, Catania and Cullen are mastering the LA art of providing just the right music at just the right time.
“We have a nice balance of hooks and storytelling style lyrics, with a very Cinemascope vibe,” Cullen says. “We encourage up and coming filmmakers and producers to reach out to us regardless of their budgets.”
Even as their success shifts toward the screen in hit shows like “iCarly”, “Zoey 101”, and “Drake & Josh”, and indie film hits like Amexica, Saucy Monky is keeping the music first. The band – featuring bassist Steve Giles and drummer Megan Jane – is currently putting the finishing touches on its highly anticipated fourth album.
“Our main goal is to make a great record, and the rest follows,” says Cullen. “It’s all about being able to stand behind the work and say, ‘I’m so proud of that.’”
“We’re doing this because we love doing it, and that’s the bottom line,” Catania adds. “If you’re an artist to the core, you’re doing it because it’s what you do, whether you’re selling 10 records or 10 million.”
What’s On My iPod?
Cynthia – I’m a big Goldfrapp fan, Metric, Feist, Sia, and of course,
Elliott Smith, Robert Plant’s new project “Band Of Joy” (my long time friend Marco Giovino played on it), Jimmy Gnecco,” I do like that band Grizzly Bear, Brandi Carlile and Ani Difranco” (who’s always close to my heart.)
Annmarie – “Off the top of my head, I’m listening to Adele, The Airborne Toxic Event, Metric and The Weepies.”