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Local band CLOAKZ thriving with music videos

When Zac Ciancaglini envisioned a music video for his newest song “Head FX,” he didn’t have to go far. Just turn the key and go.

The row homes of South Philadelphia whoosh through the rearview mirror as Ciancaglini’s vocals rhythmically guide the way during a choppy night of Uber driving, which sets the backdrop for his band CLOAKZ’ new single “Head FX”. 

Ciancaglini, who is originally from Vineland, New Jersey, settled into South Philly’s East Passyunk neighborhood eight years ago after spending some time in Brooklyn. Although he’s only 33, Ciancaglini appreciated the days when music videos were played on cable television and it provided some motivation to accompany his music with visual arts, as ways of viewing those videos are more accessible.

“That’s the whole conversation,” Ciancaglini said. “What happened to music videos? Everyone wants to do short clips. I like the idea of a music video starting without the song right away with a little theatrical part of it. It’s something I’ve always done and something I always assumed was necessary for a band for releasing music. Aside from being in a band and all the BS of having to get all the ducks in a row, I always assumed you needed a music video. So I’ve always wanted to portion some of the budget into making a music video. If it’s a single, it needs to have a video.”

The song’s video, co-directed by Bill Dvorak and Micah Weisberg, follows Ciancaglini as a rideshare driver whose monotonous gig-economy nightmare morphs into a literal nightmare when a mysterious and creepy stranger keeps appearing at every turn. Ciancaglini said he drew from real-life experiences of driving an Uber in Philadelphia.

“Before my current job, I was driving an Uber while doing sound at Bourbon and Branch,” he said. “It was through just a bunch of weird experiences and wanting to kind of show the city vibe.”

The video camera peeks at the moonlit streets of South Philly as Ciancaglini fades in and out of consciousness while seemingly seeing the same person at various locations as he travels the night. The melancholic music crashes like waves as the viewer follows his journey. 

His passion for videos is almost as deep as his passion for the music itself. Ciancaglini is a self-taught musician, who started a band called Raccoon Fighter out of high school and learned multiple instruments including guitar, bass, keys and drums. He provided all the sounds on CLOAKZ’ first EP “Semi-Autographic” by sneaking time in between sessions at the studio where he worked, and polishing up the tracks at home.

A new album, which will likely be an LP, is in the works and will be a more collaborative project with band members Tony Aquilino (bass), Greg Foran (drums), James Keary (guitar) and S. Catoe (keyboard).

“With the new lineup, it’s more band-oriented with the writing,” Ciangaglini said. “I’m excited for the new album because it will have a fresh feel to it because it’s going to not just be me doing every instrument. There will be a collaborative feel to it.”

With a new album on the rise, live show dates will begin popping up as the new year approaches. CLOAKZ will attempt to regain some of the momentum it had before COVID shut down venues.

“We got a new lineup right before COVID and had a string of shows,” Ciancaglini said. “It felt like we were really gaining momentum. Bourbon and Branch was the last show before COVID. It was a packed house. We said, ‘2020 is going to be our year.’ That was literally February of 2020. The next month, everything goes to hell. That’s our luck.”

CLOAKZ has a show scheduled at Our Wicked Lady in Brooklyn on Nov. 18. They’re hoping to load up a Philly schedule in the near future. It’s obviously near and dear to Ciancaglini.

“I had always known I was going to come back to Philly and be close to home,” he said. “I like being in the heart of it. There’s a good vibe to it down here. I like knowing my neighbors and having everything accessible right here.”

Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/c/CLOAKZband.

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