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Music » Sound Stories & Interviews

Explore and Retreat

Portland folk pop outfit The Cabin Project works best in solitude

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In order to get from Brooklyn to Portland, folk singer Katie Sawicki had to see the country. When she was done, she had to write songs about it.

The trick for her was that as a solo artist, the music she was performing for people wasn't the music she ultimately had a heart for.

"I toured as a solo act for many years, when I was based out of N.Y.C.," recounted Sawicki in an interview with the Source. "I realized I love playing music for people around the country, but I was really uninspired by the music I was making. I had bigger production ideas that I couldn't recreate on the road."

And so The Cabin Project was born.

"When I moved to Portland in 2008, right after I released my last solo record," continued Sawicki, "I decided to stay put in my little studio and write and record music that was what I wanted to be hearing, not according to whether I could recreate it on stage."

Not really a band at first—that came later—Sawicki started writing harmonies, synth and string backgrounds and electric guitar loops for melancholy orchestral folk music that told stories from her travels. As a result ,Sawicki had songs about the Rockies, New York City, Alaska, Tucson and yes, Portland, ready for co-conspirators to bring them to life.

Since inception there have been as many as six helpers. However, the current iteration of The Cabin Project includes two members in addition to Sawicki: Zanny Geffel, a jazz-trained percussionist, and Rebekah Hanson, a viola professor with a PhD. (both who love traveling as much as Sawicki). And though, initially, the idea was to carry out Sawicki's vision for the music she had written, this group has become truly collaborative with each artist bringing their own work to the table.

To that end, Geffel and Hanson now join Sawicki on retreats to rustic and cozy locales in order to flesh out their excursions into song. According to her, it's when they're at their best.

"Our most productive band retreat was in the middle of the winter on the Oregon coast," explained Sawicki. "The Cabin Project is so much about holing up and digging into the sounds. I can't tell you how many times I've had to E.Q. out the sound of rain from a track because, well, it was the best mood or atmosphere for recording that day. No one wants to record when it's sunny out."

The Cabin Project with Wilderness

8 pm. Sat., March 8

Volcanic Theatre Pub

70 SW Century Dr.

$5.

About The Author

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...

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