Dark Matters

Hendersonville acoustic duo drops tearful tunes

Lisa Tyler Ariola and Trevor Walker specialize in all things slow and sad.

Trevor Walker and Lisa Tyler Ariola — the singer-songwriters behind the Hendersonville-based band Phibian — are no strangers to sadness. Of the half-dozen singles they’ve released over the last few years, almost all ruminate on topics like grief, heartbreak, and failure. The duo’s debut album, Phibiosity, is also “very despondent,” says Walker. Ahead of the album’s release on Wednesday, Feb. 14, we sat down with Phibian to learn more about the group’s melancholy melodies.  

How would you describe your musical style? Who are some of your influences?

Walker: In a live setting, we’re primarily a folk, singer-songwriter, acoustic duo, but we have strong rock and jam tendencies, too. Our recordings are predominantly textured and layered, and they usually stretch the definition of what a “singer-songwriter” band sounds like, but we’re mindful to never stray too far from what we’re able to reproduce live. 

Ariola: Bands with imaginative storytelling and expressive instrumentation are exciting to us. Slower, sadder acoustic music is as crucial to our taste as jazz, metal, or classical. It’s good to have your musical palate open to as many styles of music as possible.

Many of your lyrics are heavy and emotionally charged. Take the opening lines of your 2022 single, “Jim and Frank,” for instance: “What was simple in the morning, always kept you up at night / Never could get what you wanted, though you tried.” What inspires your songs?

Walker: Lyrically, I tend to write from the perspective of a character that isn’t me; rarely are the songs I write autobiographical. I have no clue as to who or what might inspire the next song. I’m fascinated by anyone and anything that isn’t me.

Ariola: My songs are sometimes from the perspective of a character, but I do draw a lot of my lyrics from my own feelings and experiences. 

What is your M.O. while performing live?

Walker: We always make sure that we’re playing for ourselves. If we’re not having fun, then it isn’t worth doing. We’re incredibly humbled [by] the fans we have — the ones that genuinely love and support what we do — and we want to express that notion and share it with them.

Your debut album will be dropping this February. Tell me more.

Walker: We’ve been working on the album for the better part of seven years now. It took so long because we made it a priority to not rush ourselves or overanalyze the process. The experience was very organic, and we’re immensely proud of the results. Some of my favorite music we’ve ever written is on this record.

Phibian plays Saturday, Feb. 17 at The Poe House (105 1st Ave. West, Hendersonville), Saturday, March 9 at Appalachian Mountain Brewery (46 North Mills River Rd., Mills River), and Sunday, March 31 at Oklawaha Brewing Company (147 1st Ave. East, Hendersonville). For a full list of dates, see @phibianband on Instagram. Also see phibian.bandcamp.com

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