Music works in a mysterious way. Sometimes, even the weirdest song could come out on top of a music chart. From pop to grunge to rap, music is divided into different genres and each of them would take turns to hit airwaves and emerge as the most popular music genre of the moment. What we’re trying to say is that music means different things to different people.
This is perhaps why Michael and Carissa Rae Alvarado aka Us The Duo told us during an interview that they will not stick to just creating folk-pop music, as they’re planning to switch things up a little in their upcoming album
This pair of ridiculously good-looking husband-and-wife team, who randomly met and fell in love at a music video shoot, shot to fame with their #6SecondCovers on their official Vine account. They later scored themselves a record deal with Republic Records and subsequently had their song “No Matter Where You Are” featured on last year’s animated movie, “The Book of Life“.
On Sunday night (5th July), the duo held their first Malaysian showcase at the Bentley Music Auditorium in Petaling Jaya. Not only did they serenade the crowd into a peaceful state of mind with their acoustic tune, they also took us through a journey of their relationship with their impressive musical performances. From guitar to piano to percussion, the Vine sensations played a large array of instruments.
Before leaving Malaysia for their next show in Philippines, they did a few interviews while enjoying their time here as tourists. We sat down with the married couple real quick to talk about their thoughts and feelings about the Malaysian crowd, their music, their future plans.
Here’s what went down:
Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to do this interview!
Carissa: Our pleasure.
How do you guys feel about Malaysia so far? I followed you guys on Snapchat and it seems like you’re having a blast trying out the local food and checking out the local landmarks.
Carissa: Definitely. It has been so much fun. It’s our first time here ever so we didn’t know what to expect, but we really love the food out here. You guys like to eat and so we fit right in. Umm, my favourite is…Wait, what is it again?
Michael: Roti tissue.
Carissa: Ah yes, roti tissue that comes with dipping sauce. It tastes so good! It’s my favourite. Also, the people here are just so warm and welcoming. We feel very welcomed and we’re just enjoying ourselves a lot.
Michael: I felt so the same way too. I mean, never has it been acceptable to eat 5 meals a day! *laughs* I was like, “Sure! I can get used to this.” The fans here are also overly devoted. They really appreciate the fact of us coming here. In the US, it’s a little different because we have so many artistes touring around all the time. But I imagine, in KL, it’s not as popular for artistes to always be playing, you know. So we felt very appreciated and loved. It’s making us wanting to come back already!
Aww, that’s good to know. All right, let’s talk about music. How would you describe your music style? Is it something that you guys would be sticking to for a long time, or are you guys still experimenting?
Carissa: Our music right now is folk-pop because there’s new music that we’re currently working on. We’re aspiring to switch it up a little bit. We’re definitely going to go more pop, incorporating it with some dance beats and elements. We are really fond of EDM right now and the whole phase that is going on. So we’re hoping to mix that in our upcoming album while staying true to who we are with the harmony and all those fun melodies as well.
Have you been asked to work with other people, since Carissa mentioned that you guys are into EDM?
Michael: Yeah, actually we’ve been approached by a few DJs who are kind of up-and-coming, but I think our goals are set on some bigger names. On our label (Republic Record), there’s a DJ named Tiesto. He’s very popular, especially in the US, and we would like to work with him. Also, one of our dream collaboration is with Zedd. He has that song on the radio right now with Selena Gomez (referring to “I Want You To Know“) and it sounds awesome. We’re like, “We would love to do that too!” So yeah, thats on our bucket list.
What are some of the other genres that you listen to? Do you have any guilty listening pleasures?
Carissa: One of mine would have to be hip hop music. I like rapping sometimes. I’d get into it and just have fun. I started dancing and it’s a fun genre to work out to because it pumps you up, it keeps me running. Some people wouldn’t expect it of me, but that’s a fun one.
Michael: A guilty pleasure of mine is bluegrass music because I grew up in kind of country side of the States. A lot of people play banjos and mandolins, the country-type of music. Every now and then, I’d put that on and I’ll just have the biggest smile on my face.
Does Carissa like it?
Carissa: *laughs* Yeah I like it. I love it. I’m open to all music genres.
Michael: I took her to a bluegrass show. She hung out with me there and she loved it.
What are your most memorable celebrity encounters during this year’s Billboard Music Awards?
Carissa: We met a lot of great people there, but one of my favoutite was being able to hug J.Lo (Jennifer Lopez) *laughs* because she’s such an awesome artiste. She can sing, she can dance, she can act. It’s very inspiring to me.
Michael: For me, I’d say Ed Sheeran. We love Ed because he’s an incredible writer. Just being able to finally meet him and take a picture was already really cool for me. Also, Pentatonix, they just came here, right? We’re actually friends with them and it’s cool to see them on red carpet. We were just like, “Hey guys! Come on, let’s hang out!” We also saw our friend Tori Kelly. She performed that night. You know, we hang out with her outside of the music awards. It was really surreal to be walking down the red carpet and we ran into her, we were like, “Oh hey, Tori! What’s up?” She was like, “OMG! So glad seeing you guys here!” That was a very proud moment.
*Source: Us The Duo’s official Facebook page
So, I heard both of you like eating and watching movies during your spare time. Who’s the bigger movie geek and why?
Carissa: I mean, I wouldn’t say that I’m a pro when it comes to actors and all the movie names. I’m the worst at that, but I love watching movies. I love Netflix right now.
Michael: You guys don’t have Netflix here, right?
Yeah, we don’t :(
Carissa: But you know what is it, right?
Michael: There’s something called iflix, if I’m not wrong.
Yeah, something similar to that.
Carissa: So yeah, we’re into Netflix. We love eating, we love going out and having nice dinners like fine dining, where we have a bunch of different courses paired with wine. It’s a passion of ours as well.
Do you guys enjoy watching the same movie genre then?
Carissa: Actually, it’s funny because it’s never been like that before. All our friends usually don’t like horror movies, but Michael and I love it. It’s funny because he also likes romantic comedies. He pretends he doesn’t watch them in front of his guy friends, but when I put on “The Notebook” (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams), he’d watch it and then he will cry. It’s awesome *laughs*.
Michael: It’s true.
Carissa: We’re pretty similar.
Do you guys still get nervous onstage? Any rituals that you guys like to do before touring, recording or playing?
Michael: We get nervous from time to time, especially when it’s in a scenario we’ve never been in before. For instance, when we did our first live TV performance, oh my gosh, we were so nervous. My stomach hurts and I felt like I was going to throw up and Carissa was like, “It’s gonna be okay! We’re gonna get through this!” But generally, we do vocal warmups like some thrills and do some stretching. You know like, get warm up a little bit because if your body is loose, your singing tends to get more flowy, which is nice. We also inhale from a steamer, it’s like a hand-held steamer where we breathe hot air. We just breathe it in because it helps loosen up the vocals a little. And we usually say prayers before we go onstage, just to be thankful for being able to stand onstage. Lastly, we sometimes have a mini dance party so we bring our speakers with us then we play some super upbeat songs like “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. It’s something we do just to get high before we go onstage. So those are our rituals.
If you guys could change the band name, would you like the band to be named differently and why?
Michael: Yeah. I think we’re going to call ourselves, “The Carissas”?
Carissa: Hahaha! No, definitely not.
Michael: It’d be fun!
Carissa: Umm, I don’t think we would. I mean, I think that’s just who we are. We’re “Us”. It’s simple, plain, straightforward because that’s all we can be. And it’s started off as “Us” at first, but we added” The Duo” because we are on Vine and Twitter. Also because “Us” is very hard to search on Google and the US came up on the search result instead. We added “The Duo” because it’s easier for people to search for us on Google and find us. People started to recognise us from Vine and some would say like, “Oh, are you Us The Duo from Vine?” So we thought, “Okay we should just stick to Us The Duo then.”
Michael : We did talk about it though, remember? Just being called “The Alvalrados”?
Carissa: Our last name?
Michael: Yeah, because there’s no other group named called “The Alvarados”, but there is something nice about having your band name separate from your personal name, so you can kind of separate the world. So yeah, I think we wouldn’t change our name even if we were asked us to.
Last question, what else is in the pipeline for you guys this year?
Carissa: For this year, we’re working on some new music. We’re hoping that we can get our new single by the end of the year. We’re definitely going to have a music video for that as well. We’ll just be in the studio some more to get the album finish and hopefully it’ll be coming out next summer, maybe by the end of July. So yeah, we’re really excited about it.
All right, that’s all! Thanks again for doing this interview :)
Special thanks to our friends from Universal Music Malaysia for arranging this interview. It was an honour and pleasure to meet the lovely couple and we certainly had fun chatting with them.