Michael & Marisa

Teens Michael & Marisa are already veterans to the scene at only 13 and 14, having performed over 250 times (starting at 7 and 8 years of age!). The talented duo (Michael on guitar and vocals, Marisa on drums and vocals) has already released one album and now bring us their latest EP, “It’s Like That”. Marisa says “Our first CD was 12 songs finished in June of 2008 and we sound much older now. The music is also more current and we have found what our sound is.” What is that sound? Michael explains: “Current, cool, pop with a little edge, lots of harmonies.”

You’ve probably already caught word of their anti-bullying song, “The Same”. Excellent work to be sure – it’s great to hear voices speak up to a problem that exists in their own age group. Marisa explains how the song came about, “In January of 2010, as a result of Phoebe Prince's suicide, we wanted to write a song that would encourage the bystander to take action when they see bullying taking place. There are a lot more bystanders than bullies and if they get together in groups and speak up when they see bullying, then the bullying can be stopped. Phoebe was from Massachusetts and around our age and her suicide really had an impact on us.” Check out the video on YouTube and “It’s Like That”. Big things coming out of these two. There’s much more to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Michael & Marisa

PEV: How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Michael:  Current, cool, pop with a little edge, lots of harmonies

Marisa:  We write lyrics about things that matter to us and that other kids can relate to.  Because we are the same age as our target audience, we get them and they get us.

PEV: What kind of music do you listen to now? Was anyone your main influence?

Michael:  I like drama...Shakira, Lady Gaga, Paramore, Avril Lavigne...We both love The Beatles

Marisa:  I like hard rock like ACDC and Zeppelin, but I also love Lily Allen's clever lyrics and varied sound and am a big Bruno Mars fan

PEV: Performing in public together since you were only 7 and 8 years old, today, at 13 and 14, and having over 250 engagements, including performances in major cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Nashville, and Atlanta, what is it like breaking into the music business?

Michael:  I have been writing songs since I was 4 years old and listening to songs and remixes of songs since I was two.  Music is what makes me happy and our performing is a natural extension of who we are and what we like to do.

Marisa:  It's just what we do.  We've always done this and it's a way of life for us.

PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourselves – “We are really onto something!”?  

Marisa:  Michael's guitar teacher, Billy Garzone, was over here and the three of us were working on writing the song:  "I Can't Stop" and as it was shaping into a song with Michael playing guitar and me working out drums while thinking of things we "can't stop" doing and turning that into lyrics, it clicked somehow that now we are songwriters and that elevated what we were doing.  I mean compared to playing the 100 cover songs that we'd been playing.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Michael & Marisa show?  

Marisa:  Well, Michael is pretty spontaneous and can say or even do anything.  We always interact with the crowds and really study who is there and we notice what they respond to.

Michael:  The more excited they get, the more energy the show seems to have and we all feed off of each other.  We usually play for 45-60 minutes mixing originals with pop/rock songs and current hits that fans like to sing and dance along to.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

Marisa:  Did I remember to unplug the flat iron?

Michael:  Gotta get these people up on their feet

PEV: Any preshow rituals before going on stage or do you just wing it?

Marisa:  We just wing it.

Michael:  Wing it.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

Marisa:  We think of things that we want to say to inspire other kids our age and try to write songs with messages and songs that kids can relate to and say:  "I know exactly what they mean"

Michael:  We try to describe a feeling or an impression of something so that people say:  "yeah, I know how that is..."

PEV: Tell us about your debut EP “It’s Like That”. What can fans expect from this work?

Marisa:  Our first CD was 12 songs finished in June of 2008 and we sound much older now.  The music is also more current and we have found what our sound is.

Michael:  We had a great time writing and recording it with Peter Zizzo.  Each song has it's own story.

PEV: You’ve been gaining a lot of press lately for their self-penned anti-bullying song “The Same”.  How did this song come about and how have people reacted to it?

Marisa:  In January of 2010, as a result of Phoebe Prince's suicide, we wanted to write a song that would encourage the bystander to take action when they see bullying taking place.  There are a lot more bystanders than bullies and if they get together in groups and speak up when they see bullying, then the bullying can be stopped.  Phoebe was from Massachusetts and around our age and her suicide really had an impact on us.

Michael:  We get lots of emails from kids who say that after watching the music video to "The Same" that they see bullying differently than they did before.  Unfortunately, a lot of kids post comments that they are bullied and they look to us for advice on what to do.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Michael & Marisa?

Marisa:  We are complete opposites and never fight.  We are best friends.

Michael:  We don't ever get nervous on stage and love everything about it.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

Michael:  When I was 1.  I was born musical.

Marisa:    Once I started performing and seeing what impact I can have on people, I decided to use playing drums, which I love, to make a difference in the world.  When you have a group of people who come to see you, you really can have a positive impact on those people and can change the world audience by audience.

PEV: What one word best describes Michael & Marisa?

Michael: Approachable.

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

Marisa:  We both love to travel, hotels, new places, going to Olive Gardens all over the U.S. 

Michael:  Worst part is lack of sleep, being up late and up early for days, and not always being able to eat when hungry, finally getting dinner at 11pm and then falling asleep on it.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

Marisa: Anywhere out of the country!  Maybe England, Greece, or Italy.

Michael:  We have some very cool fans from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Australia who keep asking us to come over and play for them.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

Marisa:  Our  friends at school and family treat us completely normally.  Classmates at school forget that we have a double life and we don't remind them.  When we play in our hometown friends and many repeat fans come out and we love to see everyone.  Our friends may act baffled for a few days, but then they go back to treating us like normal kids.

Michael:  Love it when the audience is filled with people, fans, friends we know.  We all have such an awesome time.  Our family is just normal about it.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

Marisa: Well we are both black belts in Tae Kwon Do so we really enjoy doing that.  I love to do dance for 4 1/2 hours on Saturday (Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Pointe) and I also love to do gymnastics.  Also I love hanging with friends, biking with neighbors and jumping on their trampoline! 

Michael:  I always have my computer, ipad, iphone or something attached to me and am up on anything new techie thing.  I'm always working on songs, videos, various projects on computer.  I directed and edited a Michael and Marisa music video a couple of years ago of Lily Allen song "The Fear" that included green screen effects in it.  I like doing all that kind of stuff.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?  

Marisa:  We just started performing a song called "Price Tag" by Jessie J from England.  It's a big hit over there and we think she's going to get popular here very fast.  Also, Ariana Grande on Victorious has an amazing voice and I think when people catch on to that, she's going to be a big recording artist.

Michael:  Hot Chelle Rae has a song out called "Tonight Tonight" that we also perform.  Think it's going to be a hit.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think you would be doing as your career when you get older?

Michael:  I would produce music or movies as the person pushing the buttons or doing the effects.  I'd make movies like George Lucas, but not science fiction...something else.

Marisa:  Hmm....maybe I'd be an actress or a preschool teacher.  

PEV: So, what is next for Michael & Marisa?

Michael: New songs, new music, more concerts, we'd like to get on TV so we can get our music and messages out to all the kids our age.  We want to reach everyone and let them know that they can make their dreams happen, the sky is the limit and they just need to figure out what they want to do and then do it.  Kids are the best audience because they have the drive and can write their own story....make their own paths...we're all figuring it out together and it's awesome being able to perform for our peers.

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