Catching up with 'Us The Duo' Michael and Carissa Alvarado
Michael and Carissa Alvarado captivated the web when they sang their wedding vows -- but that was just the beginning. The talented lovebirds nabbed 2 million followers in just 60 days on video-sharing app Vine with their six-second covers and mash-ups of popular songs.
Six months later, "Us The Duo" has dropped a studio album, and their wedding vows song, "No Matter Where You Are," will be performed by Zoe Saldana in the upcoming animated film, "The Book of Life." As if that wasn't enough, Oprah caught wind of the musical couple and tapped them to join her on her Inspirational Tour.
We recently caught up with the husband-wife "duo" to talk about their whirlwind romance, getting hugged by Oprah and the real reason they hid their faces for so long. (Hint: it's not because they're camera shy.)
How did you meet?
Michael: I'm from North Carolina, and I took a road trip across the country to move my college roommate in to LA to be an actor. When I got there, I got this invite to be a music video extra. I showed up, and there she was, another extra -- and it was literally love at first sight. My jaw dropped to the floor, and I knew that night that I was going to marry her. I hopped on a plane back to North Carolina the next day and tried to make her fall in love with me via Twitter.
Carissa: .... and it worked!
Michael: And then I packed my bags, moved to L.A. and asked her to marry me, all within six months.
Carissa: Our families thought we were crazy. But once they saw us together they were like, "Okay, this is the one for you."
You were both solo artists before becoming a 'duo.' Where were you in your solo careers prior to meeting?
Carissa: Before we met, I was trying to do my own solo career, and I first started out doing more like pop R&B stuff, but it just didn't feel right. And when I switched to the more singer/songwriter indie kind of feel, nothing really took off for me there. There was something always missing and once I met Michael, I realized he was the missing piece.
Michael: There was always that missing piece for me, too, and then as soon as we met and sang together, my fans that existed before we came together, were like "Wow, on you're own, you're good. But with her, it's a new level. It's just this magical thing that happens between your voices."
What's the best thing about working together as a married couple?
...and the worst thing?
You're the first musical act from Vine to sign a record deal. What drew you to Vine to begin with?
Michael: We put up some YouTube videos, and we got a few likes, but it was hard to break through. I looked through it and noticed all these hilarious comedy videos, but there was no music, and I saw this opportunity to do 6-second covers.
Carissa: And I was just chilling on the couch watching TV with my dog in my PJ's, with no make-up on. I didn't really want to do it right then, but he said we could film it from the nose down, and no one would know I was tired. We filmed it and that kind of became our brand. People liked the mystery of not knowing who we were, and it just made them focus on the music.
How was your song chosen to be in "The Book Of Life?"
Carissa: That happened so organically. They reached out to a bunch of writers to write specifically for that part, but they didn't really like anything, so they reached out the Republic, and we came to their mind right away. We met with the team, and we just gelled really well. It's kind of crazy because our story matches the story of the characters in the movie pretty well, too.
What was your biggest "pinch-me" moment?
Carissa: We had no idea that we'd meet Oprah or if she had time to meet us and get to know us. But on the first day of the tour, we were in Atlanta, and all of a sudden we were on stage performing, and people start screaming. I turned around, and Oprah walked on stage. Then she hugged us and said, "Great job, you guys sound awesome." That hug was magical. She smelled so good. Her hair is like a pillow when you hug her. I didn't want to hug anyone else afterwards.
What instruments can you play?