13:41 PM

Indie pop-rock group infuses dark whimsy, movie soundtrack vibe in Bayou Theater

Serenity Fisher found her calling in life almost immediately. Other kids might have been forced into piano lessons, but Fisher loved having hers. "I love the piano; it feels good to me," she said. "It's linear, like a blank canvas I can paint on." Now a songwriter, pianist and vocal frontwo man for Serenity Fisher and the Cardboard Hearts, she and her bandmates will bring their particular brand of pop-rock, infused with a bit of Tim Burton's darkly playful style to the Bayou Theater at University of Houston-Clear Lake on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

"I love dark, whimsical fairy tales, like 'The Nightmare Before Christmas,'" Fisher said. "You'll feel that in the string section of the band, and we call them a 'section' even through they're just two people because they sound like a lot more than just two people. Even when I played on my own, I heard strings in my head, so I feel they bring that theatrical, movie soundtrack feeling to the performance."

Fisher, who is married to her cellist-bandmate Michael Ronstadt, said her background in musical theater is evident in her performing and songwriting. "If you think of the soundtrack of a Tim Burton movie, a lot of it is visual," she said. "The visual and the soundtrack were created to go together. My lyrics are very visual and dreamlike. They're not narrative, they're metaphoric. With the lyrics and the music together, you get an odd kind of story and music written specifically for that."

She said the band would play mostly original music, with a few cover songs. "The band is entirely collaborative," she said. "I write the songs, but everything is arranged together and everyone has their ideas. I like to think that whatever size our venue, and whatever music we're playing, there is something specific to us as an ensemble that can move into whatever container we're in, and still be us."

Part of her purpose as a musician, she said, was to help turn on a light inside people. "I hope my music helps people see positive things about themselves that they didn't see before, and I find that when people are illuminated by what I do, that means more to me than anything," she said. "It's those moments that I realize the effect I can have with performing and music, and that's one of the biggest things that keeps me going."

Fisher said their performance in Houston felt especially personal because the last time they'd toured Texas, Hurricane Harvey had just devastated the city. "We did two shows and turned them into fundraisers," she said. "Houston will always mean a little something extra to me than just another city where I performed. It feels special to get the opportunity to go back."

To reserve tickets for Serenity Fisher and the Cardboard Hearts, or to learn more about upcoming performances, visit the Bayou Theater.