Lost In The Trees

Lost In The Trees Session - April 2011

Lost In The Trees Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: March 11, 2011
Posting Date: April 18, 2011
Artist Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC
Links: LostInTheTrees.com / Facebook / Anti-Records
Recorded by: Michael Briggs

This Dead Bird Is Beautiful
Walk Around The Lake
Tall Trees
Garden [Bonus Video]
Lost In The Trees counts itself a part of a storied music scene. But they have a sound that distinguishes them from other Chapel Hill, NC, bands like Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, and Ben Folds Five.

Ari Picker (founder/composer/vocalist/guitarist) counts artists as disparate as Joni Mitchell, Mahler, and Pink Floyd among his influences. Picker uses the grandest, most dramatic aspects of folk (including epic storytelling), rock, pop and classical music to create complex, moving, and melodic music. He also manages to take traditional sounds and create something wholly modern.

Bandmates Drew Anagnost (cello), Mark Daumen (tuba/bass), Leah Gibson (cello), Emma Nadeau (french horn/vox/bells/accordion), Jenavieve Varga (violin), Yan Westerlund (drums), beautifully execute Picker’s compositions and add powerful emotions that are punctuated by his vulnerable, impassioned vocals.

Picker began writing music for the band around 2005, when he discovered classical music (first studying film composers, then backtracking in time to old greats like Mozart, Mahler, and (of course) Vivaldi. Lost In The Trees’ first release was 2007’s seven-song EP Time Taunts Me, which Trekky Records re-released in February as an expanded edition. Their full-length debut, 2010’s All Alone in an Empty House (on Anti-), received acclaim from such outlets as A.V. Club, Prefix, and NPR.

In this session, Picker and other members of Lost In The Trees talk about musical influences, the songwriting and recording process, and All Alone in an Empty House. They also play the songs “This Dead Bird is Beautiful”, “Walk Around the Lake”, and “Tall Trees”.
– Jesseca Bagherpour

ONE: Your music, while thematic and grand, manages to retain a personal and restrained feeling. Can you describe your creative process?
Ari Picker: Listening to a songwriter with a guitar and a huge symphony playing some Beethoven piece is equally powerful or can be equally as powerful. So, for this record or the last record, we’ve been listening to Jeff Mangum and Joni Mitchell and stuff like that, but also listening to Beethoven and Mahler, and many of those folks. I think hovering somewhere in between those two things is what we’re trying to do.
MB: How are the arrangements created—is it a group effort?
Ari: I bring everything to the group. A very lonely process of me sitting in my room doing it.
MB: Do you demo it all yourself beforehand?
Ari: Yeah, sometimes we do demos, sometimes it depends on how motivated I am [laughs]. I mean, sometimes I sit down and I am like, fuck, I don’t feel like writing 7 parts out for the band, so it will feel like more of a stripped back song and hopefully, maybe it needs to be that way anyway. Sometimes, I hear all of these things, so I start writing it down, and as far as the lyrics go, maybe like the Pink Floyd stuff and Roger Waters and all of his singing about his domestic kind of turmoil, and same with Neutral Milk Hotel, so lots of domestic issues. That stuff is very striking to me, and I felt like I had a lot to say; or if I was going to say something, then I should say something that only I could say, or something personal. So, that’s where that comes from.
TWO: What classical composers would you say have most influenced you on your work?
Ari Picker: I guess for this last record it was Vivaldi, probably, for some of it [laughing]. Like, Vivaldi and Chopin for the pieces that made it on to the record.
Leah: Old-school film composers.
Ari: So, yeah, my introduction to classical music was through film music like Bernard Herrmann, and classical film music folks and I kept going backwards all the way back to Vivaldi and Bach and stuff like that. Now, the new record is more Stravinsky and Mahler.
THREE: Last thing, what would you say is your favorite track off of your new album and why?
Ari Picker: Probably ‘All Alone In An Empty House’, the title track off of the album. I think ‘All Alone In An Empty House’ is probably the most effective track on the record.
Leah: Definitely the best responses from people from a wide variety.
Ari: That one and maybe ‘Mvt. II Sketch’. I think that as far as a composition it’s really beautiful and probably the most beautiful melody I have ever written. Jenavieve, anything? Want to throw a cherry on top?
Jenavieve: There is a difference between a song you listen to and a favorite song you play. For me it’s a toss-up between ‘For Leah and Chloe’ and ‘Walk Around the Lake’.
Ari: Really?
Jenavieve: Yeah, well, I mean ‘All In An Empty House’ is definitely the most effective track.
Ari: No, no, I just never knew that.
Jenavieve: Yeah, I think so![laughing]