It's My Life PBS Kids Go!
Michael and Marisa

By It's My Life on July 30, 2010 2:17 PM | No TrackBacks

Walking down street crop IMG_5006 compressed.jpgMeet Marisa, who's 13, and her brother Michael, 12. They live with their parents in Boston and are just your average tweens, involved with school and friends and hobbies.

Well, average except for one kinda big thing: together these sibs are a musical duo who perform live for huge audiences and are about to release their second album, an EP titled "It's Like That." Michael and Marisa (he plays guitar, she plays drums, they both sing and co-write most of their songs) have been busy opening for artists such as David Archuleta, Mitchel Musso, and Drake Bell, and are on the road to really bright music careers.

Recently, in the wake of the Phoebe Prince incident and other similar stories, the pair co-wrote a song called "The Same" that tackles the issue of bullying. We thought it was pretty cool that this bro and sis have come so far in such a short time doing something they love, and were happy to get a chance to chat with them recently.

IML: Nice to meet you guys! How has your summer been so far?

Marisa: We've been performing a lot. We went on the Bamboozle tour and we've been doing the Camplified tour, so that's a lot of fun, and a bunch of shows in between.

IML: You've been busy for sure! So tell us how each of you started performing music.

Michael: I was like born loving music. Our parents actually owned a toy business and I never wanted any toys unless they made musical sounds! I just wanted CDs and stuff. And instead of DVDs, our computer could only make VCDs. I made those with a bunch of videos I did to dances to songs when I was 4. I wanted to pick up the guitar because all of the music artists I was into played guitar, like Avril Lavigne and Shakira. So I picked it up when I was 6. Marisa was playing the violin and hated it and quit, and then she picked up the drums. And then after a few months of me performing solo, she joined in.

IML: When did you actually realize, "Hey, we could do this together?"

Marisa: A lot of times, I would be practicing drums and he would be practicing guitar. We have a setup in our basement where both instruments are next to each other, so we would usually practice together...Then we just started trying songs and stuff. Michael would play a song and I would play along to it to practice. We just loved playing together, and we kept doing it!

IML: That's how great bands start. What do each of you like best about the instrument you play?

Marisa: I like to hit things! Also, I'm a perfectionist and I like to have everything on time, so I can be consistent and keep the beat going. But whenever I want, I can fill in something to spice it up. It's not like I'm stuck in a certain chord structure like piano or guitar. I can add whatever I want, whenever I want, and it won't change the song.

Michael: Well, I'm more of a creative and laid-back kind of person, and the guitar...I'm very flexible in my moods, and with guitar you can pretty much play any type of thing on it. It's really a "me" type of instrument.

IML: Where do you get your ideas for songs?

Marisa: A lot of our songs are about doing things to make the world a better place. "I Bet I Could" is about helping the environment, and "The Same" is about stopping bullying. We really like to write something about making a difference. We'd rather not just do nonsense singing about anything, but rather, something that could change the world.

IML: Do you keep a journal and write down lyrics? Or do you come up with the melody first?

Marisa: Sometimes, a hook will be in your head and you'll be like, "This is really catchy, maybe I can add lyrics to this." And sometimes a topic will hit you in the middle of nowhere. When we wrote "The Same", there was a lot of attention on bullying nationwide after the Phoebe Prince incident. So we thought we should write a song about bullying, and we started with lyrics on that one and added music after.

IML: You mentioned Shakira and Avril Lavigne. Who else influences you?

Michael: The Beatles have been a huge influence on us because our parents always played them around the house. It grew on us since we were little and we've always loved them.

Marisa: I've always loved No Doubt with Gwen Stefani, and AC/DC. We like Lily Allen, too. We once got to sing on stage with her, actually!

Michael: I'm a big fan of Paramore and Lady Gaga. And Drake Bell.

Compressed M and M  close up sofa IMG_4657.jpgIML: That's a good variety! You're close together in age and you spend a lot of time together. How are you different, personality-wise?

Marisa: We actually have a song called "Me With You" about our different personalities. As Michael said, he's laid back while I'm a sort of Type A and a perfectionist. If you were to tell us to draw a picture of something, we'd just draw the complete opposite thing! We have completely opposite personalities, but we get along so well because of it.

IML: How can it help you to be so different?

Michael: Here's an example. I'm very good with the computer. The school actually calls me the Tech Man! Marisa had a Keynote project to do and she's was worried about her effects not working, so I helped her. And if I have a research paper, she helps me get organized.

IML: Do you have normal sibling rivalry?

Marisa: Not really! It's actually kind of funny. We get along really well. I don't know if it's because we're so close in age, but we're best friends and we hang out together all the time. Sure, little tiny things pop up but we never have big fights.

IML: What do your friends and classmates think of your music and your career?

Marisa: School is pretty much just normal for us. We're regular kids who also have this music career going along with it. We're really busy, but otherwise our friends treat us like anyone else. Maybe if we perform at a talent show it gets crazy. Or when they come to see us at shows, they're like, "Oh my God!" They support us a lot, it's really nice.

IML: What kinds of reactions have you gotten from audiences?

Marisa: It's so funny to see all the different audiences we get. We've played at nightclubs and kid-friendly places too, and kids and the grownups both like our music. We play rock music you'd hear on the radio as well as our originals. The older and the younger enjoy the music and it's really great.

Michael: We just came off the Bamboozle tour, and that was a lot of people in their 20's and 30's. They really liked our music. Then you compare that to when we opened for David Archuleta...that audience had the same reaction. It was so cool to see.

IML: What's been your favorite performing experience so far?

Marisa: I remember our first show when we played in Hollywood at the Whiskey a Go Go and the Roxy Nightlucb. We were little, like 8 and 9. It was our first "far away from home" big show on a big stage at a nightclub. We were really excited and I just remember the moment thinking, "This is incredible!'

Michael: I really liked opening for Drake Bell because I've always loved his music and acting since I was very little. Every morning before school I set my alarm to blast Drake Bell and wake the whole house up! When I finally got to meet him, it was actually at the Whiskey A Go Go sound check and I played one of his songs and he said he thought we were really good. So he invited us to open for him and it was so fun. He's such a nice person.

IML: Who else have you meet that was really exciting for you?

Marisa: David Archuleta is really nice. We met Lady Gaga, the Jonas Brothers. Avril Lavigne a couple of times. Fergie and the Black Eyes Peas. Gwen Stefani and No Doubt.

IML: So basically, you're meeting all of your idols!

Marisa: Yeah, it's amazing! And we found out that they're just regular people. Sometimes with celebrities, you think of them as aliens or in a different world, and it's so cool to find out they're just like you, they're normal and you can just have a conversation with them.

IML: You were talking earlier about your song "The Same," which is about bullying. Do you think it can really make a difference?

Marisa: I'm really happy that we've been doing interviews about this song and the message, because it's so powerful to have kids tell other kids not to bully. As much as grown-ups say, "You shouldn't bully, you should always be nice," it's kind of like kids hear that all the time all day long. Only kids can really prevent it. So to hear one of your peers tell you to cut it out seems to make a bigger impact. It's not like your parents telling you to clean your room, just another thing parents say. To get that message from a peer is so much more powerful and we think we can really make a difference with this song.

IML: What do other young people think of the song?

Marisa: A lot of people will come up to us after shows and tell us they really like that song, because it's so relatable. It talks about being in school, in the cafeteria, and that one person who's left out. It's from the point of view of a bystander and it talks about how you should stand up to a bully and help out that kid who's being picked on. A lot of kids tell us they really appreciate that message.

IML: Have either of you ever dealt with bullying in your own lives?

Marisa: Fortunately we haven't been bullied ourselves, but we have seen other kids at our school get bullied. One kid was constantly being harassed and stood up for him and told the principal. And it stopped! Like I said, sometimes bullies will listen to another kid telling them to cut it out, rather than a grown up telling them that would feel like a lecture.

IML: Did anyone give you a hard time about standing up for that kid?

Marisa: No, fortunately. Me and a bunch of other girls started being nice to the kid who was being bullied, and it started catching on. Everyone just stopped picking on him. Even if one person hears that song and stands up for someone, it just takes that one person to completely change everything.

IML: Thank you Michael and Marisa! We can't wait to hear more from you guys!

Michael: Thanks!

Marisa: Thank you!

When "The Same" is release on iTunes, Michael and Marisa have decided that 20% of the proceeds from sales will get donated to an organization called Kids Against Bullying. You can hear some of this song, and others, on the pair's website at www.MichaelandMarisa.com.

And we love this music video for their song "Mr. Know It All" -- check it out!

 






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