Good Folk: Andy Cabic, Vetiver, at Iota Club & Cafe



Andy Cabic, the main songwriter for San Francisco-based folk band Vetiver, feels a close camaraderie with collaborators Vashti Bunyan and Devendra Banhart — something readily apparent in his lilting, mid-tempo songs.

“Vashti is a very generous and sweet person,” Cabic says. “Her songs are great examples of a circular simplicity. We are both quiet pop singers, so I feel a bond in her approach that resonates with me.”

The same goes for working with Banhart. The two met at the San Francisco Art Institute and were closely linked early in their careers: Banhart played on the first two Vetiver records, and Cabic co-wrote Banhart’s “At the Hop”.

“We’ve been through a lot together,” Cabi says. “I’ve learned a lot from his mix of an irreverent sense of humor with a sincere love and affection for the art and music which inspires him.”

Even with those noticeable influences, Vetiver’s calm dreaminess is clearly Cabic’s own voice. The group’s fifth album, “The Errant Charm,” is due this summer on Sub Pop. For this record, Cabic again teams with producer Thom Monahan, but the two took a different approach to recording then they did with 2009’s “Tight Knit“.

“With past albums, I wouldn’t have begun the process of recording an album until I had all the songs ready,” Cabic says. The new album “was built on fragments of songs and sounds that I demoed with Thom. I met up with [him], bringing only a few finished songs and the seeds of others. In a way it harkens back to how my second record, ‘To Find Me Gone’, was made, in stages.”

Regardless of the recording process, Cabic’s music has a wistful, relaxing tone that is more traditional than the freak-folk scene that Vetiver is often lumped into. Despite his ties to freak-folkers Banhart and Joanna Newsom, it’s not a label that resonates with Cabic.

“My songs are subtle and simple, but with twists,” he says. “They are melodic and catchy but typically understated. Hardly ‘freaky’.”

» IOTA, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; with Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion; Fri. Mar. 25, 9:00 p.m., $15; 703-522-8340.

Written by Express contributor Catherine Lewis
Photos by Alissa Anderson

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Clinton Yates · March 23, 2011