New favorite band alert: Model and filmmaker Tracy Antonopoulos and filmmaker Ben Morsberger teamed up to create Cable, a currently unsigned musical project born out of their mutual affection for superheroes, Christopher Nolan, and My Chemical Romance—not exactly the influences you’d expect from a band that has been embraced by New York’s fashion and art crowd. Those nerdy obsessions can be spotted all throughout the video for their Dev Hynes-produced debut single, “Roxanne,” a neo-noir odyssey through the seedy streets of New York directed by Deering Regan. The Blade Runner motif is rampant, from the Japanese text that appears at the beginning, to the neon-lit streets of New York City’s Chinatown. (You can see behind-the-scenes shots from the video’s shoot above.) We spoke to Antonopoulos and Morsberger about why they want to be the Chris Nolan of bands, how their filmmaking backgrounds inform their music, and the One Direction cover that started it all. Photography by James Orlando.
I heard that Cable initially started with a One Direction cover.
Tracy: Well, I lived uptown near the Beacon Theater and I was walking from the gym one day when I heard this screaming on the street. And then I turn the corner and there were all these screaming girls singing One Direction songs. It was the most exciting thing that I had seen uptown in a while, because I was like, Woah, these girls are so into it. This was before One Direction got really huge. Then I looked up their music and I was like, damn, these are some pop bangers. When you break them down, they’re some amazingly written songs because some of the best songwriters are writing for them. I learned one of their songs on the guitar and then I played it for Ben and he was like, let’s record it. And we just did it in an hour.
Who were some of your first collaborators?
B: We worked with our good friend Dev Hynes from Blood Orange a couple of times for the two songs that we’re planning on putting out first. Those were really great experiences.
T: And we’re so close with him that he’s just been around while we’re writing so he knows what we’re into and the vibe that we want. I remember when we went into the studio, he came in with some stuff for “Roxanne” that sounded exactly like what I would have wanted. Dev’s the only person that we have collaborated with musically so far, but then there’s Deering Regan, who shot our video.
B: I remember we played at The Bow, and it was the first time that we had a bad show with all these technical difficulties. I was so bummed after the show, and then Deering was like, “I have an idea for the video.” And I was like, oh sick.
T: You came up to me like, Deering has an idea for the video and it has to do with motorcycles. I was like woah!
So what was the story behind “Roxanne”?
T: It’s kind of about dual selves. There’s us on the motorcycles and then there’s us as regular people as the band. I thought it was almost like singing to ourselves, warning ourselves of danger. I liked thinking of us in the bar as the superheroes in this dark world and then us on the motorcycles as kind of what we’re fighting against. Because that’s how I feel in New York sometimes. There’s a lot of dark stuff, and I like Disney. I like positive things, while in reality there’s a dark world out there. So I kind of thought of it like a comic book.
Was there a specific moment that made you want to write “Roxanne”?
T: We were talking about relationships in New York and how there are things that can really come in the way of them.
B: Well, the song is really about addiction.
T: And whether it’s drugs or insecurity, you’d be so much happier if you didn’t follow your addiction. I wanted to tell it from an outside perspective because I don’t want to be singing that I’m perfect, so you would be so much happier with me or something. When I’m singing it’s more from a personal experience about wishing that they chose you, but seeing that what they are choosing is destructive for them.
How do you envision Cable as being different from other bands?
B: We want to be like the Chris Nolan of music. Like, make original music that a lot of people could appreciate and find interesting things in. I don’t want to compare ourselves to Kanye West but kind of like what he did with Yeezus. He’s one of the biggest celebrities and he made a really cool, weird record that isn’t normal for Top 40 artists, and that’s like bringing the art to the people, you know? I don’t feel like a lot of New York bands are really trying to do that, or they’re just not interested in that, which is cool. But if you go to our shows, Tracy gets into these amazing costumes and we try to make it pretty theatrical and special because I feel like I don’t see that too much.
T: Just like Christopher Nolan’s movies, something can both break the mold and be received on a mainstream level. He didn’t follow a certain formula for doing something mainstream, which I think is one of the hardest thing to do.
You both interned for Ryan McGinley and worked as videographers. What have your experiences with video and photography brought to your music?
T: It makes me want to check the monitor a lot, which is probably annoying. But I remember Deering said that it was nice working with people who knew film. It’s like everybody’s in it together instead of waiting for somebody to direct you. I would always question why we were doing things to find out how we could get it at the best that it could be.
B: Working with Ryan also helped me learn the patience that comes with the process of making decisions as an artist.
Tracy, you’ve directed clips for Opening Ceremony and A.P.C., and Cable was one of the few live bands to perform at New York Fashion Week last February. How does your take on fashion tap into your style as a band?
T: I feel like when I perform it’s like the example of Peter Parker and Spider-man. Performing is the suit, it’s the Cable girl. I still feel like it’s me but it’s my alter ego, like what I wish I was all about. And then off the track, it’s just a more relaxed version of that. I guess that’s how they relate.
I also grew up listening to anything that pretty much came on the radio, even if in retrospect it can seem a little embarrassing. But everybody needs something to love, even if it’s My Chemical Romance.
B: That’s funny–that was actually our inspiration for the music video. Tracy’s costume in the bar was super inspired by My Chem.
T: We’re big My Chem fans. I really hope Gerard Way sees our video.
B: And if you just look at their videos and stage act, they are so theatrical. You see the connection that makes with the fans, and that bond is so special.
Where would you like to take your music in the future?
B: MSG, baby.
T: That’s the ultimate goal. I would also cry the whole show if we ever got to headline the BB&T Center, the arena in Fort Lauderdale. I’m from Florida, which is why it would be so special. I grew up being exposed to anything that was pretty much on the radio, since artsy stuff doesn’t really spread too far and it can be intimidating. I feel like that’s something people from outside New York can relate to. I don’t want any of our stuff to ever feel exclusive, so that everybody, no matter where they came from, can find something in it to relate to.