Married couple Rennie and Brett Sparks have been making songs together as The Handsome Family for 21 years. In 2014, they gained much wider fame when their haunting song, “Far From Any Road,” became the theme for the first season of HBO’s True Detective. The duo’s dark, surreal lyrics come from Rennie, and the music, which draws from country music and church hymns, is written by Brett. Their latest album, Unseen, is based on their experiences living in the Southwest.

Rennie Sparks tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that she often has a different notion from her husband of what the music will sound like. “He’ll come back singing these words in a very different way, and bringing a whole different mood to them,” Rennie says. “That’s part of the excitement of working with him.” For Brett, this musical mind-meld is “almost like a third person is writing the song.” Rennie makes no apologies for the frequently macabre nature of her lyrics. “You know, it’s catharsis,” she says. “It’s a safe place to experience really terrifying things. And that’s what art is for.” MORE