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Meet Cascadia: Like Mazzy Star, If Mazzy Star Had a Song Called "Boyz II Men"

By Angela Wig

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It kind of makes sense that the garage band Cascadia would find a home on Green Burrito Records (a West Coast label focused on revitalizing the cassette tape). Cascadia was once described as sounding like “Mazzy Star on Adderall” and that’s pretty dead on, except throw in a heavy wall-of-sound backing band to the Star-inspired vocals. It’s the kind of music you might listen to when you were stoned, heartbroken, and 18 years old. It’s kind of 90s, kind of nostalgic, and weirdly comforting. But it makes sense, seeing as during the duration of this short interview, Cascadia mentioned Nine Inch Nails, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, and Red Hot Chili Peppers several times.

Cascadia just debuted their six-song EP Conditionally, and after Christmas, they will embark on a West Coast tour. Plans for a seven-inch on Cruising USA Records will materialize after that, but for now, Cascadia is staying on cassette.

I sat down with Sasha Langford (vocals/drums), Cam Borthwick (guitars), and Dan Oan (bass) to talk about the evolution of Cascadia, the sexiest songs of all time, and fantasy dream dinners with famous musicians.

Noisey: Have you been friends for a long time?
Sasha:
Cam and I first met at a house party in grade 10. A fast friendship formed.

What was the first thing you said to one another?
Can you remember, Cam? Was I showing you the remix I made of “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails?
Cam: I’m veering towards definitely. Maybe I just gave you an awkward “hey” because you were a girl and I was 15 years old.

Sasha and Cam, you guys were in a pop-punk band together called Golden Touch. Why now Cascadia? How has your approach to song writing evolved?
The approach is the same, but our influences have altered quite a lot in the two years between those bands.
Sasha: We were talking about this the other day. I like to think that one of the big differences is that my drumming has improved immensely.
Cam: After Golden Touch, we always had a desire to play together again and we both wanted to do something a bit more heavy and dissonant, but finding the common ground within those parameters took a while.

Who or what is influencing Cascadia?
Sasha:
Cam and I have different musical tastes, but there’s crossover—metal, industrial music, pop-punk...though Cam is far more into pop-punk than me.
Cam: Yeah, I spent the past few years obsessing with lots of pop-punk and 90s indie and forgot about all these heavier bands that had really influenced me when I first picked up a guitar. I turned back to a lot of stuff I forgot about, like Melvins, Jesu, Polvo, and Sonic Youth. Writing for Cascadia is actually the most natural thing I’ve ever done with music.

What I like most about Cascadia is that the music itself is full and heavy, while Sasha sings with this sweet, fragile voice. You have weird R&B phrasing and timing on some songs.
Sasha:
My voice got compared to Emily Haines in a recent review. I found that kind of embarrassing.
Cam: Oh God.
Sasha: I used to listen to a lot of Beat 94.5 when it was just a hip-hop station so, that could be why I have an R&B influence.

[At this point, Dan (bass) shows up.] I think Sasha has an awkward, innocent sexiness to her singing. What is the sexiest album ever written?
Cam:
Loveless by My Bloody Valentine.
Sasha: Me too.
Dan: I was thinking about that album too.
Cam: Or Sister by Sonic Youth.
Sasha: Something by LL Cool J,
Cam: “The Shadow Of Doubt” [by Sonic Youth] is weirdly sexy and kind of homicidal, but sexuality is confusing, right?
Dan: Confusion is sex.

Speaking of confusion, let’s talk about lyrics. Do you guys all know the lyrics? Does Sasha share?
I have a strange aversion to listening to lyrics. It’s kind of like reading a diary, even though it’s public.
Cam: Totally.

Your songs have a romantic feel. Are they?
Sasha:
Most of the songs are about nostalgia of some kind. Reminiscing about been a teenager or being heartbroken.

What’s the song “Prospect” about?
It’s a love song. I will not say anymore.

Come on.
“Prospect” was actually called “Boyz II Men” for a really, really long time when I couldn’t think of a name for it. I just came up with “Prospect” because I did not want it to be called "Boyz II Men" on the record.

If you guys could go to dinner with any three musicians in the entire world, who would it be and where would you go?
Cam:
Bob Pollard, Blake Schwarzenbach, and Greg Ginn or Hendrix (same thing, really). We would all go to Bons [cheap diner] and get the special while watching baseball.
Dan: Greg Ginn, Glenn Branca, and Crispin Glover. In a circus tent to augment the weirdness that Crispin would bring to the conversation.
Cam: Is Crispin Glover’s music good?
Dan: No. It’s clowny clown stuff, but it’s kind of amazing.
Sasha: I pick Trent Reznor, Patsy Cline, and Flea. We’d probably have a picnic in the park.
Cam: Flea? Really?
Sasha: Duh. Don’t you remember when we were in high school and my MSN icon was of Flea?
Dan: My roommates have all read Anthony Kiedis’s biography and they all love the Chili Peppers. It’s weird.

Hey, I love Red Hot Chili Peppers. Watch what you say.
Cam:
No comment on the Chilis.

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