Love and trust underscores Distrail’s sound

by Keith Barber

When Jared Droughon and Bitsy Pina met a year and a half ago, they appeared to be star-crossed lovers. Droughon, formerly a member of the bands Telescreen and Classic Case*, and Pina, a formerly of the band Far-Less, met on the local music circuit while touring with their respective groups. Their connection was instantaneous, and their musical chemistry was borne out of their emotional chemistry. Love and trust added a critical element to Droughon and Pina’s music — an emotional security that allowed both of them to push the limits of their musical imagination. As love blossomed between Jared and Bitsy, they developed a creative process that gave birth to their own two-person band Distrails and their first record, Virginia Creeper. Bitsy, a classically trained pianist since the age of 3, will normally sit at the piano and just begin playing. Soon, she will tap into a melody that captures Jared’s attention. “She’s got this amazing talent where she can sit and play and not hit bad notes,” Jared said. “She’s making it up as she goes. It sounds like a soundtrack to a film and I’ve never seen anything like it. She doesn’t remember what she’s played; it’s just freestyle.” Innovating on the keyboard is a relatively new phenomenon for Bitsy, who didn’t begin composing until after she met Jared 18 months ago. Before that, she only played sheet music placed in front of her. She started composing because of the creative frustration she felt while playing in a band. Distrails creative process goes something like this: As Bitsy begins to play, Jared might be doing chores around the house, but when he hears something he likes, he joins her. “He’ll pick up his guitar and tell me to continue it, ‘Play it again, play it again’” Bitsy explained. Jared’s lyrics result from the creative flow between he and Bitsy during those jam sessions. “I tend to hear melodies first and phrasing in my head,” he said. “A lot of times I’ll just be playing and get this melody rolling and make up words. Sometimes phrases will just naturally feel right coming out. Then I’ll go from there, filling in the pieces.” On a bright, chilly Saturday afternoon, Jared stomped his right heel against the hardwood floor of their Winston-Salem apartment while he strummed his Martin guitar rhythmically to Bitsy’s piano melody while performing “Broken English,” a track off their debut album entitled Virginia Creeper. A quick listen of the CD reveals that Jared was playing an invisible bass drum during the impromptu performance. Distrails’ style has been describe as a fusion of neo-classical and indie rock. Live or recorded, the two ingredients blend really well together and Jared and Bitsy’s love for their music and one another comes through in each song. Discovering one another has led to a rediscovery of their musical roots, Jared said, and the results of this unleashing of creativity can be heard on every track of Virginia Creeper. “At this point, it’s like I’m doing it the same way I was trying to do music when I was 15 or 16 because I really enjoyed it, and I want to try and have that approach now,” he said. The couple’s emotional cohesiveness made the creation of their first record a relatively smooth process, a nice departure from their days of playing in rock bands. “When you get four or five different people wanting to go in different directions, it’s really difficult,” Jared said. “And it’s really personal,” Bitsy added. In a musical sense, two heads are better than four or five, Jared said. “We get along. We never have any problems but if we were to have something, it would be about music. There’s trust,” he said. Apparently, Jared and Bitsy have worked out their musical differences because the dreamy sound they achieve on Virginia Creeper, with its classical underpinnings, has the ability to transport the listener to another place.

“I couldn’t have imagined the album any better,” Bitsy said. At the moment, Jared and Bitsy are managing themselves and setting their professional goals high. “In five years I would love to have put out four more records,” Jared said. “It doesn’t take much for us to live, so it would be amazing if we could make some money.” Now that Bitsy has discovered this infinite creative well of musical expression, she would like to spend more time composing than working her day job. She wishes for the day that her and Jared’s music will grant them the freedom they desire, but in the meantime, Distrails will work within its current framework. Given the unique sound and depth of expression Droughon and Pina discovered on Virginia Creeper, one can only imagine a bright future for the talented duo. “It is a choice whether we want to do it or not, but in other ways, I can’t help it. It’s not a choice. I’m going to keep on doing it no matter what,” Jared said. Jared and Bitsy said they aspire to have their unique sound make it way onto movie soundtracks. The income generated by film scoring would allow them the freedom and flexibility to further explore the musical possibilities inspired by their love and passion for one another. “We always want to write and record. I don’t think that’s ever going to stop,” Bitsy said. “We’ll be making plenty of music in the future.”

Jared Draughon (left) and his fianc’ Bitsy Pina, met on the localmusic circuit 18 months ago, and soon formed their own group,Distrails. Their debut album, Virginia Creeper was released last year.(photo by Keith T. Barber)