Riss&Rach on the Rise

From Rise and Grind coffee shop to The House of Blues and beyond Riss&Rach are on the move to bigger and better things.

New York City. Madison Square Garden. Backstage. Putting on the final coat of lipstick. Fixing that one strand of hair that won’t sit right. Shaking out all those pre-show jitters. Before you go on stage you take a gulp of water and a big breath, knowing you got this. You smoothly walk on stage and wave to the sold out crowd. You’ve been waiting for this moment for your entire life. Finally you walk to the mic and begin your set.

Most musicians dream of that moment. The moment of true success. The moment that means you’ve made it. Performing at Madison Square Garden. It’s the goal, and hopeful, reality of the new duo Riss&Rach. Two girls with amazing voices and superb musical skills, Marissa Barbalato and Rachael Sabol decided to begin to making music together as a duo fairly recently, and with their newly found success they may never look back. But who are Riss&Rach and what makes them so special?

Originally from Buffalo, New York, Marissa Barbalato is no stranger to music. She began singing, as we all did, with the ABCs at the age of three. But, unlike most of us Marissa never stopped. She discovered her passion young and has done anything and everything to pursue it at all costs. She grew up very involved in music and theatre, but also found that she had another strong passion; Soccer. Spending her life torn between the two, she found herself confused on which to pursue fully but there was one specific moment when she truly realized her path. “One specific soccer game during my senior year of high school, I found myself on the field, day dreaming about being on stage.” The decision was made. Music it was. Coming from a traditional italian family she was slightly worried that music as a career would not be something her family supported, but luckily her family is on board with her courageous decision. After deciding to pursue music, musical theatre specifically, as a career the next question for Marissa was where to attend college. She started out at Baldwin Wallace University as a theatre major with a music minor, but soon discovered this wasn’t the program for her. Soon after that discovery she auditioned, and was accepted, at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City with a musical theatre concentration. After completing the two year conservatory program AMDA offers, Marissa decided to head to LA to begin on the next chapter of her life.

Rachael Sabol has been surrounded by all types of music her entire life. She grew up in a very musical household, her parents are both professional trombone players and her brother plays many instruments just like her, so music as a career was an expected choice for her from a young age. “ I knew, subconsciously, that I wanted to pursue music since I picked up the violin in the first grade.” With a supportive family, music was an obvious path for her. But, even with a supportive and musical family Rachael struggled with the realness that would be music as a career. For a moment she was “thinking of going to school for math or communications.” But, ultimately she decided that music was all she wanted to do and found herself last minute auditioning, and being accepted into, the musical theatre program at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. After completing that program she took some time off to discover what she truly wanted and that ended up taking her to LA. She has decided to continue her education at the AMDA LA campus, ultimately receiving her BFA degree.

This duo ended up working together completely by chance. Knowing each other in passing at AMDA NY, they really became friends and music partners by chance in LA. Marissa was in need of a guitarist for her first gig in LA. After asking around a mutual friend suggested she ask Rachael. What was supposed to be a one time thing turned into a mutually beneficial artistic duo and the pair could tell they were both meant to work with each other. “From the first rehearsal I knew we had something special” says Marissa about the duo. After rehearsing and playing their first gig together they found the reaction to be so positive they wanted to continue working together. Now every aspect of their duo is worked on and decided about together. When asked about how it feels working together Rachael said “To work on originals and covers directly with another person makes you think. It makes you really try to make something that you both love work for you. We also inspire each other vocally, creatively, and musically.” Finding a musical partner is hard. Not only should they be talented, but you have to trust this person with your career and ultimately your life. It really seems that these two were not only meant to perform, but meant to perform with each other.

After that first gig together Marissa and Rachael were inspired to take their duo to the next level. They began rehearsing like crazy, coming up with new covers and brand new music they had written themselves. After awhile an amazing amount of gigs started coming their way. After months of hard work they’ve now become regular performers at Rise and Grind, where they first got their start, Stella Barra, The Craftsman, and Room 5. Most would say that consistently gigging at these awesome places would be big enough, but Riss&Rach are also in the process of recording an EP with The Surf Shack and Capitol Records. “We played brunch one Sunday at a restaurant, and someone who worked there posted a video of use and sound engineer from Capitol saw the video and contacted us.” It’s the classic discovery story that most performers dream of. The EP is still in the process of being recorded, but it will be all original songs written by both Marissa and Rachael. It’s planned to be released this coming July.

Riss&Rach just recently had their first performance at The House of Blues in Hollywood. According to Rachael “playing at the legendary Hollywood House of Blues was an insane and incredible experience.” The duo was able to play one original song and a few pop covers they re-did themselves. Both Marissa and Rachel claim that playing that venue was one of the major things on their professional bucket list. The audience was packed with supportive friends and fans of Riss&Rach.

These two girls have some crazy plans for the future. They’re both working extremely hard to make sure their duo goes as far as it can. Their ultimate goal? Marissa says “Our ultimate goal is to perform at Madison Square Garden and to win a Grammy. Every time I say that I get a genuine look of confusion. What keeps us going is knowing we received that same look when we set our goal for The House of Blues.” With the crazy amount of hard work these two have put in so far I wouldn’t be surprised if those goals are achieved sooner rather than later.

Throughout this crazy roller coaster that Riss&Rach have been so far they still are very rooted in their beliefs of hard work and friendship. They respect and listen to each other and each other’s ideas. They challenge and push one another to be the best person and performer they each can be. And most importantly they believe in each other and encourage each other to never give up on their dreams. Not only do they encourage each other, they encourage any other artists out there who may be finding that they’re struggling. Rachael believes that “Number 1: This is the hardest career. Number 2: It’s so worth it.” Being an artist is a hard, but so rewarding, life choice and Riss&Rach are strong believers that what is meant to be will be. Marissa says that “Most of all you should never feel rejected. You are only being redirected to another opportunity.” When a door closes another one is bound to open.

Marissa and Rachael are so grateful for their opportunities. With consistent gigs, a growing fan base, an EP with capitol records in the works, and their major goal of performing at The House of Blues crossed of their list, it’s safe to say that Riss&Rach are well on their way. I asked Marissa and Rachael if they’ve ever been recognized and Rachael said “this question made me laugh.” But, with the rate they’re going pretty soon fans are gonna be constantly trying to take selfies and demand autographs. Marissa Barbalato and Rachael Sabol are amazing examples of what happens when you work hard. They’re sacrificed to get to where they are now and they’ll continue to do so until they reach their ultimate goal.

If you’re feeling crazy, or just wanting to listen to some great music take a peak at this wonderful cover by Riss&Rach. Also, why don’t you go ahead and follow them on some social media sites.

Instagram: @RissAndRach Twitter: @RissAndRach Facebook: like RissAndRach


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