By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Twin sisters Michelle and Melissa Macedo had one goal for their new EP “Paradise”: to release something positive into the world.
“We usually write songs that can be a little darker,” Michelle said. “While we were in quarantine, we thought we needed — and people needed — something that can be uplifting. That’s what we tried to focus on with this EP.”
Under the moniker Macedo, the Pasadena sisters serve sun-soaked classic SoCal pop with ’90s alternative rock twist. The women said their songs prior to the pandemic are darker than the recently released tracks, which were executive produced by Anna Akana.
“Can’t Imagine (Without You),” for example, is a song Macedo wrote with producer Chris Chu (The Morning Bends, Pop Etc.) about sisterhood.
“It ended up being very topical and something we could really relate to,” Melissa said. “We grew up to complement each other and support each other.”
Michelle added, “We grew up going to an all-girls school and, because of that, we were able to be so supportive of each other. This last year has shown us how important female friendships are. That’s really a message that we want to support and send out with the EP.”
For “Paradise,” the sisters also drew inspiration from the Pasadena family home — built on an old collapsed silver mine with the vestiges of ghostly energy intact. Doors opened and closed on their own as lights flickered off and on, and one particular apparition followed them. More than anything, the experience opened their minds to “respect the other side and allow a darker quality into the writing,” Melissa said.
“It started our fascination with ghosts, spirits and other worlds that exist,” Melissa said. “It was scary, but then we were always together, growing up as twins. We felt we were sensitive to that.”
Michelle added, “It was scary at first, like Melissa said. However, it was not a ghost from the movies who wants to kill us. It’s just a person who’s passed on. That was super interesting. Because of that, we’re very empathic and connected emotionally to that. We started writing poetry when we were young. Those experiences helped us with writing and exploring things we can’t see.”
As the pandemic shut down the world, Macedo was just about to go on tour with Akana. Instead, they studied how other acts were able to stay creative, and experimented with an Instagram live show, performed a charity gig for the Starlight Children’s Foundation and a private show for their high school, the all-girls Catholic Mayfield Senior School.
“We’re very lucky,” Melissa said. “We’re twins and we have each other. We were in our quarantine pod with Anna. We collaborated a lot with her and wrote a lot of songs. I do feel like the pandemic is horrible, but one upside to being at home is you are stuck, and you have to do something.”
Still, Macedo saw how it affected themselves and their friends. One of their best friends works as an event coordinator at The Huntington in San Marino.
“She was saying they were so busy before and then it completely shut down,” Michelle said. “Now it’s starting to come back a little bit. We live in a beautiful place and it’s a shame it shut down. We’re grateful, though, we have nature and green around us. That helped a lot, even though it was scary to go outside.”
To release the EP, Macedo signed, appropriately, to Pasadena Records, which is truly a coincidence. Macedo’s management, Jon Sidel and Ian Cunningham of Gourmet Music, pitched the act to indie labels and Pasadena Records was interested.
“When the label wanted to meet with us, we said we’re actually from Pasadena,” Melissa said. “They did not even know that. It’s just all Pasadena synchronicities.”
The twins grew up in Pasadena with their parents, including their father who played piano and guitar. He introduced them to a variety of music from classical to modern pop. Their grandmother was a classically trained pianist in LA. Macedo began performing around the LA scene when they were 16.
Michelle and Melissa learned early on to support each other and other women. It started with Chandler School and continued through Catholic Mayfield Senior School.
“What was really cool about Mayfield was the focus on the arts,” Melissa said. “We were able to do theater and singing here. That was really exciting.”
Michelle added, “We felt it was the most supportive community for our arts, for us to explore our creativity without worrying about if you were liked or popular. Women were valued for who they were, without any judgment of a man. We were lucky to be within a class that was super supportive.”
That’s why it was important for Macedo to take a particular approach with “Paradise.”
“We wanted to focus on female friendship or friendship in general,” Melissa said.
“There are a lot of songs about romantic relationships. We wanted to talk about something else. We wanted to talk about how important relationships are right now.”
Instagram and Twitter: @macedomusic