Independant Streak

by ELIZABETH STRAUCH & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & n a room flooded with backlight from a window directly ahead, a young woman appears, picks up some items from the floor, and disappears again. A cat is now in the window, and several cuts later, Stephanie Casey is staring straight at you with a look of detachment. As if hiding her festering emotions, she sings, "I've seen it all my life, but that doesn't mean it's right. It's not right."

It's a scene from a video that Casey made a few months ago on her MacBook. Though she's transitioned to making music, her former life as a film editor hasn't left her. The video continues in this fragmented fashion, with Casey appearing in various parts of the small room, all the while conveying a haunting sort of simplicity that matches her voice and guitar.

Casey has always lived with a do-it-yourself kind of attitude. As an eldest child growing up in Dallas, she was extremely independent and gravitated to opportunities to work behind the scenes. "I didn't like attention," says Casey, who realizes the irony of achieving success as a one-woman show called Fall of Snow.

It was early in her career when Casey's penchant for behind-the-scenes work launched her into the film world, graduating from New York University's film school and working up to first assistant editor for movies like Freaky Friday and The Wedding Planner. The Hollywood scene was great, she says, but she was so frequently frustrated by the compromises and limitations of the industry and how easily your message gets muddied. So she began a new journey to find the medium that she had the ultimate control over to carry her message -- music.

Casey's independent streak helped her to overcome her fear of the spotlight as she began to teach herself how to play and perform. "I picked up the guitar and just looked at chord charts and Internet tabs," she says. "And then, as it turns out, I can sing."

Now based in Portland, nearly everything she does musically is her own. On her first full album, Right, her songs often start out simply, with a gentle voice that builds up a mighty vocal reserve for carrying out her message. From that point, it's a simple layering process with tambourine shakes, reverb, and overdubs. She maintains the intimacy of her music even in her live performances as she allows listeners into the process while looping beats, strumming her guitar and beating a mallet on a lonely ride cymbal.

As far as collaboration goes, she's starting to meet more people on the same musical wavelength. Occasionally opportunities come up that are hard to resist. During one show this past winter at Holocene in Portland, her somber lyrics and melodies were backed by six cellos. She'll never be comfortable in compromising her vision, though, because as she says, "It's part of me and very personal." Still, she'd love help. "I'd love to find a booking agent," she admits, laughing. Finally, a thousand miles from Hollywood, Casey is living the life, and communicating the message that she wants.

Fall of Snow with Morose Ghost at Zola on Saturday, April 19, at 8 pm. Free. Call 624-0660.