Folk musicians Arielle Bryant and Austin Moss often approach songwriting without a tune in mind. They write their lyrics like a poem, and the music comes later.
“I have not found a genre for poetically driven music,” Bryant said. “We are very lyrically driven.”
Their Raleigh-based group – named Pisces Rising for their shared astrological sign – offers up songs with a depth that might be lost on the partying patrons of the bars where they perform.
And while every song has the two singers harmonizing, Bryant and Moss write their songs separately. Bryant says her lyrics tend to be darker: “so haunting, you’re afraid to be listening to the song.” Moss draws inspiration from writers like the Persian poet Rumi.
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“I write more on ideas and things that catch my eye,” he said.
The two came together as a duo after years of making music on their own. They met while Bryant was working as a barista and soon saw their musical chemistry. Both are pagans who draw on their spirituality as they write.
“Eventually, we realized we had this great musical cohesion,” Moss said.
Pisces Rising was born earlier this year, and already the pair is performing around the Triangle together nearly every week. Their venues range from busking for tips on a street corner to formal shows like Thursday’s performance at Deep South The Bar in downtown Raleigh.
The music has drawn comparisons to today’s top indie and folk acts, including the Civil Wars, Sufjan Stevens, and Iron and Wine. They released their first recording in March, distributing it on the website Bandcamp with a “name your own price” approach.
Now they’re working on a second EP and a concept album based on the Greek myth of Persephone. “It’s been a fruitful challenge,” Bryant said. And while both Moss and Bryant are making music full time, they’re not using a traditional recording studio – or “any electronic anything” – to keep their sound authentic.
Moss handles the recording process himself, setting up a makeshift studio at home. They also screenprint their own T-shirts to sell at shows alongside jewelry made by their roommates.
“We pretty much live by the do-it-yourself code of ethics,” Bryant said.
And because their partnership isn’t a romantic one, Bryant and Moss hope to be making music together for years to come. “I feel like I was meant to meet Austin,” Bryant said.