Musicians Daniel Markham, Tony Ferraro and Steve Phillips were all hit with a surprise last month. A song they had all collaborated on called “Cinch” was being heard by tens of thousands of people. Some may not have known who they were listening to, as it was featured along with Dallas Maverick Luka Doncic's Rookie of the Year video.
On June 24, Doncic was awarded 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year. The video featuring music with DFW roots was released the next day.
A tight, electronically modified snare pops and hisses underneath a thick, wobbling bass line. Ambient guitars and sharp synthesizers pierce through the rhythm section as Markham and Ferraro harmonize on what one could call the song’s mantra, “Nothing has been this easy before.” On top of it all is footage from this season of Doncic dominating on the basketball court.
The three artists have known each other for a while. They’ve been in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth for years, performing and writing for various music projects. Even though they played together in an Elvis Costello tribute band and both worked for the School of Rock for some time, Markham says he and Phillips haven’t collaborated on a lot of music.
“Cinch” was on a 2017 album by Markham and Ferraro called Spill. The two have collaborated extensively since they first met, at a show in Austin, back in 2010. They were performing in their respective bands at a place called Dominican Joe. Years later, they both found themselves in Denton and began collaborating. While writing Spill, Markham and Ferraro got hold of a little piece of music that Phillips was working on.
“Steve had the beat and a little bit of the music for it,” Markham says of the track. “He didn’t know what to do with it, so he sent it to me and Tony.”
Ferraro says: “(The beat) was already recorded. Steve had it up on SoundCloud or something. He and I are friends, and I asked him to send me anything he was working on, and he sent me that."
Phillips’ contribution ended up being a driving force in the song. A little less than a year went by, Ferraro says, before he and Markham decided to record another album. Halfway through writing the album, Ferraro asked if he could use the beat. They then added synths and guitars and wrote the lyrics. They recorded it all in about an afternoon, Markham says.
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About two years after “Cinch” was released, a friend of Markham’s named Mike Marshall reached out to Ferraro about using the song. Marshall works with the production team for the Mavericks. All he told Ferraro was that he wanted to use the song for something special. Suddenly, it was being heard by sports fans across the country.
“It was a (surprise) for me,” Markham says. “A friend texted me the video, and I didn’t know what it was. I thought he had just heard the song and thought it was cool. Then, I watched the video and was like ‘Wow, crazy.’”
Even though he’s always been more of a baseball guy, Markham says it’s cool the Mavericks used their song. Ferraro and Markham say the door is always open if the team wants to use their material in the future.
“The door is always open,” Ferraro says. “We have plenty of music.”