“In high school, everyone [at Northwood] was listening to gangster rap. I just listened to the radio,” said NHS grad Ari Picker, composer, songwriter, singer and guitarist for Chapel Hill band Lost in the Trees.
Picker explained that the beginnings of his now internationally acclaimed orchestral-folk band were about as humble as it gets.
“Writing, recording in bedrooms, getting people to come play, hanging up posters… It just grew organically from there,” Picker said.
Picker has had many members accompany him in Lost in the Trees, but he asserts that the core group of members has remained fairly consistent.
“Everybody [in the band currently] has been with us for a long time,” said Picker.
Lost in the Trees’ most recent release, A Church That Fits Our Needs, diverges slightly from the band’s previous, folk-tinged release All Alone In an Empty House. This release shows Picker developing a more grandiose cinematic scope with his songwriting, an effect he asserts is no accident.
“I’ve pretty much always been interested in film scores. Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Citizen Kane, The Twilight Zone), Mark Mothersbaugh (Rugrats, The Royal Tenenbaums) and Ennio Marricone (The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Bugsy) are my favorites, just to name a few,” said Picker.
The more contemporary direction on this album was also an intentional choice, according to Picker.
“I wanted to do something more modern musically. There’s more bombastic rhythm and odd time [signatures] this time,” Picker said.
Picker said he had been pigeonholed in the past but is beginning to diversify.
“I used to only listen to classical and older music from the 60s and 70s, but I’ve been listening to more new stuff recently: Blonde Redhead, Grizzly Bear, that kind of stuff,” said Picker.
When asked the standard “Is there anything else you’d like to add?” at the end of our interview, Picker answered with a series of questions.
“How is Northwood? What’s it like these days? It seems a little different from when I went there; there seems to be a lot more cool kids who listen to underground music and go to shows these days.”
Picker’s affable response encapsulates the unassuming nature that permeates Lost in the Trees.
The band’s expansion from playing small local venues to touring the country, has not caused them to lose sight of their roots. Such personal an art form can often drain on the artist, but with their new album and upcoming tour dates, Lost in the Trees show that they are looking to the future. One replete with harmony and a killer string section.
–By Dylan Newcity