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Hey Hey We're The Monkys

Two girls, two countries, two very different perspectives: put them together and they make Saucy Monky – originators of some of the sexiest and most addictive guitar driven pop music we’ve heard in years.

Cynthia Catania & Annmarie Cullen, 12 Sep 2003

Act One: Cynthia – Calfornication

California, for me, has always been the land of infinite possibilities. You can be whoever and whatever you want out here. Of course, it helps if you’re smart. And lucky. But it’s an inspiring place. There’s such amazing history and beauty here.

I remember as a kid, watching films and dreaming about Hollywood. Screen stars, singers, what wonderful lives they led! I wanted a piece of that, as I think everyone fantasizes about it at some point in their lives, even if they never aspire to being an entertainer: just to be close to it. And the music that’s come out of California! What would American life be without it? Mine would certainly be different and considerably less enriched.

People move to LA to become famous. People move to LA to make the ching ching. People move to LA because the weather is magnificent. Me? I moved to LA get into the ‘game’ and to learn. I wanted the big record deal. I wanted the major label push. I wanted the ‘right’ people to step into my world, take me by the hand, and make things happen. What better place, for that, than LA?

Well, none of it came to pass until I made it happen for myself. I shied away from the glitz and the facade and fell into the most intriguing of undergrounds: being artful in LA. Is that a contradiction in terms? Maybe. But that’s what the environment brought me, personally.

You can be an individual in LA. And that’s a powerful thing.

LA brought out my anti-establishment mentality. Instead of going with the pack, it made me want to move in the opposite direction. When everyone got competitive, I wanted to be a part of a community. I longed for it. I hated the cold, rude world of Hollywood clubland (where you typically have to pay to play). I started a music series called ‘olivoiL indieNights’ and booked my favorite bands, and my friends, on my gigs so I could enjoy myself.

It was also the time I started olivoiL records. It wasn’t particularly fashionable in ‘99 to be indie. The record biz was still going strong (look at it now!). But in my world, it was go indie or pack up and leave town… and that wasn’t about to happen! (Not to a feisty Italian girl from New Jersey.) So I decided to follow in the footsteps of the most anti-establishment movements ever. The punks. Epitaph. Sub Pop. Dischord… olivoiL records was born out of that liberating, ‘do it yourself’ mentality. And things really kicked into high gear when I met Annmarie Cullen, and we started Saucy Monky.

From the first days of Saucy Monky, we were on the indie path. Even though Annmarie’s resume was chock full of major label accomplishments, with the changing tone of the LA music biz, we embraced the idea of creating a powerful, homespun unit of passionate folks who believed in our band, our music and our ideals.

If anyone asked me a couple of years ago where I was going to be in 2003, I certainly wouldn’t have answered ‘touring Ireland for the third time in 12 months!’ It’s completely unexpected and marvelous, but that’s where we’ll be this month. Hopefully we’ll meet you somewhere along the way.

Act Two: Annmarie – Home Thoughts From Abroad

I moved to LA because I wanted an adventure. I was invited to play some showcases here by an LA-based manager who saw me gigging in Ireland. I was actually planning to go on to San Francisco afterwards, to meet up with some Irish friends, but I never made it. I got anchored down in Santa Monica.

I know I will return to live in Dublin someday, but it’s hard not to be romanced by the sun, sea, sand, good coffee and infinite possibilities of Los Angeles. It’s easy to be an individual in LA – far easier in many ways than in Ireland. People are slow to judge you. There’s no pressure to be married and in a stable job. It’s a land that supports the arts and the artistic, even if it has a cut-throat side.

I was lucky. I had songwriting deals with Disney and Warner Brothers shortly after I moved here. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of forgetting WHY you wanted to make music in the first place when you’re with a major corporation. Soon it becomes about what sells… not what moves you.

The Britney Spears era was emerging, and churning out chart fodder of that ilk wasn’t what I wanted to do, and I found myself without a job. I was considering quitting until I ran into Cynthia at an LA club. I loved her music, her tenacity and her vision of the Indie world. Inspired by the potential of putting our creative energies together, we formed Saucy Monky together with Adam (Moncello) and Carson (Cohen), and the wonderful world of indie was revealed to me.

I also found myself part of a music community that was reminiscent of my days playing at The International Bar in Dublin with the likes of Damien Dempsey, Glen Hansard, Mundy and Naimee Coleman. I had missed that. It can be hard to find that kind of supportive community in LA, but Cynthia was totally dialed in to it. For me it was the perfect context in which to become intoxicated again with the power and the excitement of making

music – hopefully great music.

Looking back on my transplantation to LA, I’m amazed that I didn’t have a nervous breakdown. I knew no one. Everything was so unfamiliar. The accents, the freeways, and the lack of old buildings… even the sun. It’s so far removed from Dublin – but in the long run that’s what makes it such an adventure – which is what I came looking for.

I’m grateful for my experience in “lala land”. Not just the music and the musicians (because I really do think I’ve learned from my peers, here) but the whole buzz of the place. LA is a melting pot. I think I’ve grown as a person from living here.

Saucy Monky made music fun for me again, and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier, artistically. But the trip is just starting. Let’s see now just how far and how high we can take it... b

Saucy Monky return to Ireland for a nationwide tour, from Sept 11-19, sharing bills along the way with Tim Burgess and Nick Kelly.

See gig guide for full details

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