Sarah Negahdari is stepping out of her role frontwoman of The Happy Hollows with a solo album. Under the name Pisces, she writes folk-laden pop with influences from lo-fi and psychedelic rock, which are woven together with intense melodies and layered vocals.

Mirroring the project's astrological title, her self-titled album is an intimate-sounding record that explores themes of magic, space, nature and spirituality. Described as a "hero's journey", she takes the listener on an adventure from light into the dark with the whimsical 'Being With You', expansive shoegaze of 'Wicked Fun', and the contemplative closing song 'Dust Clouds'. I spoke with Sarah about making her first solo album, the power of art and how she sees the extraordinary in the ordinary.

You've been writing under Pisces for quite a while now, with 'Voodoo' released a single back in 2011. How are you feeling now that the album is out?

I feel wonderful. I feel like I'm sharing a deeper layer, an intimate side of myself with whoever is listening. It has been incredible for me so far to get the feedback and messages from strangers from all over the world who have somehow found these songs. I feel more known and heard and connected to people then I ever have before, which is very blissful, and I'm very grateful.

As Pisces, did you want to carve out something different to what you had achieved in The Happy Hollows?

Yes. I realized I wanted to make a record that would give the listener a more intimate experience of my heart and soul. I then realized that the reality of me is that I am never really in reality! I prefer very much to dream, and make believe, and turn what is ordinary into something more enchanted any way I can. I got the idea that I wanted to make a folk record that sounds like a simple lo-fi, intimate bedroom recording, but in a dreamy, cinematic and cosmic way. I really wanted to create a record that sounded like its own world, with a unique sound that is only Pisces.

Was there a point when you knew you wanted to make something on your own?

I think all the years of playing and touring with all boys led me to want to do something totally on my own, and very feminine! Don't get me wrong, I love my boys, but I just needed a bit of an independent outlet.

Were there any rules you made to ensure you didn't cover ground you had with the band?

No, I didn't really think about it too much. Charlie from The Happy Hollows actually heard a little rough demo of 'Being with You' and pushed me to record all my songs. He was very much a part of the whole birthing process for Pisces, and he performed the bass parts on the album so both bands are pretty intertwined.

How did you come to choose the name Pisces for the project? Were you reluctant to use your own name for the project?

I was reluctant to use my name, because Pisces songs aren't anymore "Sarah Negahdari" than my The Happy Hollows songs. They are both equal but different expressions of myself, so I felt I needed a name. The name came to me because my producer, Joel Morales is a Pisces, and I am a Pisces, and we would talk about how the songs were very Piscean in theme. It really sums up the sound!

Funny you should say that because Melissa Auf Der Maur recently said in an interview that "Pisces are astrology maniacs. We believe in magic, we believe in the afterlife, we believe in dreams telling us what to do in real life". Would you agree this is the same for you?

OH GOD YES! I really am a Pisces through and through. I believe in magic and my dreams are very important to me. I really don't think there is death at all in the way we define it. Everything is magical! Trust me. I know.

How did you record and write this album? Also, was it strange making music without your band members?

I am not even kidding when I say every time I would feel a Pisces song coming there would be a full moon or a crazy big moon outside my window. I would write the songs in spurts over the course of a couple of years. I have been very funny because I make The Happy Hollows members play with me live for Pisces shows. I just can't break away; I love them too much!

Can you remember what the first songs you wrote for the album were?

I think 'Voodoo' was the first. Then 'Paint A Rocket'. I didn't know quite what to do with them. Then I wrote 'Being With You' and Charlie heard it and told me to finish an album, he literally forced me to finish and record them.

Did you have a different mindset writing as Pisces? Did you feel freer?

I feel more quiet, and still, when I write for Pisces. With The Happy Hollows we primarily write together, so I definitely feel a bit more introspective.

In hindsight, is the album different to how you envisioned or heard it in your head before going into make it?

It is literally exactly what I wished for. It is exactly the sound I wanted. I thank Joel Morales for that. I totally mapped out the layers, so so many vocal layers. I had 20 layers of vocals for every song, and Joel just put up with me. It really turned out exactly how I imagined it to sound.

Were there any artists, musical or otherwise, that you looked to for inspiration?

Yes, many. I think Pisces is honestly a result of the combination of the music I grew up hearing around the house. It's like a strange combination of Cat Stevens, Enya, and pre-revolution psychedelic rock from Iran.

There's an interesting dynamic on the album in the way you experiment with your vocals, guitar style and production on every song throughout. For example, there's an aloof softness to 'Lunatic Moon', whereas 'Flower Toes' is very urgent and cathartic. Would you say this album has many colours running through it?

I really love the idea of the 'hero's journey', and I sort of wanted to play with that in this album. In every great journey, the hero starts out very wide-eyed and innocent. Then she falls into some dark times and trouble! Then her courage is tested. Then she has to defeat her enemies. Then she must go through the fire, in order to emerge as her most fully realized self. It's just life. So yes, I wanted to start out really light, then get really dark, then really zany and adventurous and, in the end, come back into the light. Back into the light, but now with a depth, with a soul that you can only get from going into the dark.

There are some very big moments on the record, like the instrumental breakdown on 'Wicked Fun' and the unforgettable chorus of 'Being With You'. When creating and recording a song, do you try and experience them as a listener might?

Thank you! No, I don't really think about anyone listening as much as I just write what I'm feeling in order to be as uninhibited as possible.

You described in an interview a few years back that being a creative artist comes with a constant passion and frustration trying to keep up with yourself. Do you feel your becoming better at expressing yourself or realizing your ideas?

I feel I am becoming better at expressing myself. I am pretty uninhibited and really don't hold back when I have something inside I want to create or perform. I do think I need more discipline as every day it seems like 500 ideas run through my head, and I get so excited to create them all and then I just feel overwhelmed because I can only do one thing at a time. I have a very hard time focusing and completing the various creations I make, and I need to work on that. I honestly am most happy and content when I'm working on a variety of projects at the same time though.

Given the experiences you've had in The Happy Hollows, The Silversun Pickups and now as a solo musician; would you say you have become more assertive as an artist?

I'm more confident in myself, but I am still working on being assertive, although I may never be as assertive as the world requires, it seems. I am very good at the art of receiving, though!

Now that the album is out and you've probably had a little bit of distance from it, what do you see these songs being about?

I think they are about the earth, about nature, and how we humans are completely a part of the majesty and mystery and love that is nature. I think the songs are really reflective of the seasons: summer, fall, winter, spring. Also of death and rebirth. Nature. Beauty. Our own darkness and our own light. Being a part of the earth and also in awe of it. I think that's the theme throughout all of the songs.

Pisces' debut album is out now on Pesky Fruit.