MDBP 2019 Preview Series: Black Caviar makes dance music to laugh, move and listen to

Just as the summer weather is heating up, so is this season’s lineup of incredible concerts and festivals. One festival to keep an eye on in the UConn area is the Mad Decent Block Party festival, set to take place at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on July 20 and 21. 

MDBP 2019 boasts a lineup full of famous veterans of the EDM scene (RL Grime, Zeds Dead and Major Lazer are just a few of the many legends to grace the lineup) as well as some of today’s most talented up-and-coming producers and DJs. 

Black Caviar, the producing duo made up of Troy Hinson and Jared Piccone, is one such up-and-coming group that is sure to bring the beats and energy to MDBP. The producer pair have been making music for years: What began as a teenage dream turned into a fun Sunday activity and ultimately became a way of life.

“Jared and I grew up playing in different bands and our bands would sometimes play together in the metal/hardcore/punk scene in Pennsylvania,” Hinson said in regard to the duo’s musical roots. “Then we moved to New York and got regular day jobs, and started trying to be adults that have jobs with medical insurance.”

Although the two decided to “grow up” and take a more typical approach to life, music was still very present in both of their daily routines: Piccone worked as an A&R man for the Casablanca Records label, and Hinson was a radio producer at SiriusXM. The two would also get together after work and on weekends to make music on their computers.

“We always talked about how other guys would maybe join a softball league or a fantasy football league on a Sunday, but [instead] we would get together and make dance music. I think that’s why we’ve been so organically successful, because we’re not really worried about anything besides making music for ourselves,” Piccone said.

“We just did it after work, we’d go to the studio at the place I worked at, Troy would come over, and twice a week we’d start making tunes, or sometimes on a Sunday. And then like a year into it, we started to take it very seriously, and now here we are, two years later.”

Their initial lack of attempting to gain popularity could, in part, have contributed to the success they began to see. It’s clear that Black Caviar’s music is authentic and original; Hinson and Piccone were truly making music for themselves. “We weren’t trying to fit into any music scene, or try to fit into any sort of genre of music; it was really just for the love of dance music and making music,” Hinson said.

Black Caviar began to gain traction through the internet. 

“I think the first thing that really hit us was that we wrote a song on our computer in our apartment, put it online, and then all of the sudden dance troupes from Russia are making choreographed videos to our song. We were like, ‘How the hell are they finding out about this?’” Hinson said in regard to the duo’s natural increase in popularity.

Just as they refuse to conform to a single genre, Black Caviar doesn’t have a single process for creating their tracks. However, one thing is absolutely necessary in order for Black Caviar to produce the energetic, feel good music the duo is known for: An incredible beat.

“I think it just starts with getting a beat rocking,” Piccone said. “Troy has a notepad in his phone where we’re always writing down witty ideas, or things that we say that make each other laugh. So we usually get a beat going, then we pull out a notepad, and then we start riffing. Usually we know we have something when everybody in the studio is just laughing uncontrollably.”

This unique process has proven successful a number of times, but perhaps most obviously with Black Caviar’s hit “Coco,” which currently has over 15 million streams on Spotify. 

“The guy singing on [Coco] was actually my boss’s assistant,” Piccone said. “He was new in the record industry, he didn’t get paid very much, he had probably only been there a couple of months. He was living in New York City, he didn’t have a lot of money so he always ate cereal; a lot of the young interns at work always ate cereal. So we were kind of making fun of him about that, and laughing about how to make cereal sexual. And that’s where [the hook] ‘Cocoa Puffs’ came from.”

“We love the challenge of writing a song,” Hinson said. “So how do we sexualize cereal and make it funny? Or, we had to write a song for the ‘Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse’ movie and it had to be a theatrical hip-hop song. So for that we did a song called ‘El Camino,’ and Jared and I are goofing around and we have this horn riff, and we were like, ‘This sounds like Pitbull. So let’s write a song as if we were going to write it for Pitbull,’ as ridiculous as that sounds.”

“Sometimes it works, and it’s great, and sometimes it’s terrible. Either way, it’s a good time and we try to be as ridiculous as we possibly can,” Hinson said.

This unique outlook on creating music carries over into Black Caviar’s collaboration process. They recently released two singles, “Alright Alright Okay” and “Zonin” with New York rapper G.L.A.M. 

“We’re always looking for something a little bit left of center, something that’s interesting,” Hinson said in regard to their collaboration with G.L.A.M. “We were going through [artists], like, ‘Okay, that person’s cool, okay that person’s cool,’ and then we heard G.L.A.M., and we were like, ‘Yo, this chick sounds like Missy Elliot! Like woah, she’s on some other shit.’”

“[The artist] really has to grab us as something interesting and unique. That’s what Jared and I definitely try to go for,” Hinson said. 

This summer Black Caviar will be taking their unique and dynamic energy to the Mad Decent Block Party festival stage. Learning that they were playing the festival of the iconic Mad Decent label was a dream come true for the pair. 

“We’ve been to Mad Decent Block Party before, we’ve known about that culture and everything that surrounds Mad Decent forever; we’re huge fans. It just seems pretty surreal still that we get asked to do this stuff,” Piccone said about playing MDBP 2019.

“We love the Mad Decent label; Diplo is just an incredible producer that we’ve been fans of for ten plus years. He’s just a beast. We admire him very much and the brand that he’s built, so to be a part of it is absolutely an honor,” Hinson said.

Black Caviar brings a unique positivity to dance music not only through their sound but also their creative process and message. While they do make music to dance to, it’s clear that there’s a deeper thought behind the duo’s tracks. 

So if there’s anything for people to take away from our music it is that we hope it makes them move, we hope it makes them feel good, and we hope that it helps bring people together to combat a lot of the negativity in the world with some positivity.
— Troy Hinson

“When you have passion for music, dance music, or whatever kind of music, really, and you get together with people that are different than you but have the same passion, it’s an unbelievably beautiful thing that I think we need more of in this world,” Hinson said.

“So if there’s anything for people to take away from our music it is that we hope it makes them move, we hope it makes them feel good, and we hope that it helps bring people together to combat a lot of the negativity in the world with some positivity.”

Music is all about contradictions, but being able to create music that is both fun and deep, energetic and thoughtful, hilarious and important? That seems like a tall order, but Black Caviar is clearly up to the task; we’re just lucky to be able to listen to the end result.

Make sure to catch Black Caviar at the Mad Decent Block Party festival on Sunday, July 21. Tickets can be found on the festival’s website.


Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lucie.turkel@uconn.edu.