Roses and Revolutions, aka Alyssa Coco and Matt Merritt, a New York-based duo, has released a new self-titled EP that debuted at #1 on iTunes bestselling Singer/Songwriter EPs & Singles chart and #22 on Top Albums. They are coming to my town, Los Angeles, next week but took time off this week for an interview.
Patrick: There is so much to talk to you about – your tour, the new EP, the video, being on American idol, but first, I understand there is a story behind Elvio Fernandes being on one of the EP’s cuts?
Alyssa. The song he is on, The Walls, is a recent song, but I have known him since I was 12 years old. He listened to my first song – it wasn’t good – but he made his contributions. The most recent song is very close to me and was very honored to have him on it.
Patrick: How did you get the song to him?
Alyssa. Before he was a big rock star, Elvio was a realtor in our hometown of Rochester New York. My mom was a mortgage broker and my dad was an appraiser, so they knew him through work. He played music on the side, he had a band in town. It was just a little get together, nothing serious, when I gave it to him. It was just his friends little girl looking for some advice.Ow did you get your song to him?
Patrick. The line in the song, These Walls, the one with Elvio on it that goes: Iʼm saving face for my enemy/The enemy inside of me now/Iʼm trying to figure out where I belong I am still thinking about that line. Your music sweeps me away while your lyrics make me think. What was going on in your mind when you wrote that?
Alyssa. I have not shared this with many people, but I struggle with OCD – and anxiety. It is not the typical struggle of obsessive cleaning than things like that. It is a struggle in my own head, it’s my own enemy. I have learned to cope with it. In that song I am really trying to deal with it – I wanted the lyrics to be general and vague because it relates to people in many ways. I want people to know they are no alone in their struggle.
Patrick: Who is the songwriter in the team.
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Alyssa. We both write – its 50/50.
Patrick: Your music arrangements are very sophisticated – every song is crafted carefully to precisely balance the interplay of the instruments and your voice perfectly with lots of attention to detail. How do you do that, and is it hard?
Matt: It is like the songwriting – we both arrange and produce everything – we really love doing it and we do it together. Every song starts with vocals with guitar part or piano part. Even songs that we add a lot of instrumentation in the recording process. That is kind of how we write, kind of our blueprint. We take it from the bare bones with just the chord progressives or riff and vocals. We feel that if a song that can’t be stripped down to vocals and a chord progressive, we have this motto that I if a song can’t stripped downs to vocals and a chord progression, two instruments, maybe it’s not a song that is worth writing – it doesn’t speak at that level. Then we will add what the song needs, a cello or violins or Fernandes. We are lucky to have a lot of friends we can call on for help. Then we bring them into the studio. But it all starts with lyrics and chord progressions.
Patrick. When you two got together you decided that your goal was to make intimate connections with a wide audience, and your songs like Down, really do it. Do you revisit that goal, do you ever think “ does this song or this performance make an intimate connection with your audience”?
Alyssa: Yes. I think about it all the time. The songs Down and These Walls are in my element and other songs on the EP are in Matt’s element, but we both put our spins on it. We definitely think about that all the time…its very important to make that intimate connection.
Matt: When we first started we played in a different project together and we had a lot of songs we wrote together that didn’t make the cut. We recently got off the tour with Joan Osborne and what she told us is that she has noticed that the most successful songs are those that we write to please ourselves. A lot of these songs come from that and we have seen more success with these songs than any others.
Patrick. I will be seeing you next week at the Hotel Café in Hollywood, on Tuesday, 5/20/14.
Alyssa and Matt. Thank you and we look forward to it.
Host, Music FridayLive!othHH