We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Staffieri and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
As a duo, we have done a lot on our own to get to where we are. We were just two friends making music who decided to become a duo and dedicate ourselves to our project, Rico & Miella. We had zero connections, no managers, and entered the EDM world willing to take risks. Rico used to write other artists on twitter and Facebook, asking to collaborate which most people would be too afraid to do. From then on, one thing lead to another and we had releases with big names like Feenixpawl, Seven Lions, Thomas Gold, and CLMD. Within our first year working together, we had our first signed release on Revealed Recordings. From that day on we knew were had something special. Most people would look at us like dreamers when we first started out and always had the question, “What’s your plan B?”. A really scary and big decision we had to make was our choice of work. It’s not easy pursuing a career in music and it can be really challenging to balance having a career type of job and following your dreams. We both had to make sacrifices by working part-time jobs and avoiding anything that could take up too much of our time. That came with its own challenges and makes life a lot more difficult to navigate. Keeping your focus on the bigger picture especially in the beginning is so important.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Rico & Miella are an EDM duo made up of Rico Caruso and Michelle Staffieri, two friends from high school who shared a love of music. I think what sets us apart, especially in this genre, we both come from indie and singer/songwriter backgrounds. Rico’s biggest inspiration and idol in music is Conor Oberst and Michelle grew up listening to Alanis Morissette and Jewel. In college, Rico started producing which lead to Michelle singing on his tracks and that’s how it all began. We’ve had our ups and downs with our career but we will always keep going because it’s the passion, the love, and the dream that keeps us wanting to push forward. The biggest thing we learned is that if you want something, you have to do it yourself. No one is going hand you anything on a silver platter. It’s also extremely important to have a team behind you that you trust and who will help take your career to the next level.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
New York has always been our favorite city. If we were to show you around, we’d take you to some of the best restaurants, speak easies, and of course, a late night pizza place. Everyone loves to walk around and explore but we would avoid the tourist traps like Time Square. We’d start out with breakfast at Russ & Daughters for a white fish sandwich. Then we would walk around Central Park with some local coffee while enjoying nature surrounded by high rises. For one of the best bloody Mary’s we’d take you to Jacobs Pickles and if you can fit it, they have amazing Mac & Cheese. For lunch, Eataly where you can find all authentic Italian food but the restaurant upstairs makes you feel like you’re in another country, Serra. One thing about New York is that there is always something going on. We love the museums but they have pop up art experiences from time to time. Right now they have the Van Gogh Exhibit which is really cool and a great way to escape the busy world. For a pre dinner drink, we’d take you to a speak easy called Cricket Club which you’d never know was there unless you did your research. We are big sushi lovers so for dinner, we’d take you to one of the best sushi restaurants we’ve ever experienced which is Kosaka. For a club experience with some dancing and music, Le Bain is one of our favorites which is great for rooftop views of the city. Then, late night pizza is a must. We’d top the night off with a beer and a slice of Artichoke pizza from Artichoke Basil.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Everyone always says, “I wouldn’t be here without…” and the list goes on. Not to sound cliché, but it’s true that without support from your families and friends, it could be really hard to want to keep going. We are very thankful to have a support system with people we love who want to see us succeed. We’d also really like to thank our friend Kdrew for being such an amazing friend and mentor. Kevin is such a talented musician and we’ve learned a lot from him over the years. He’s always there when we need a second ear on a new project and it’s nice to have a friend who you share the same passion with.
Photos by Rico Caruso, Hutch Photography, and ENDVRS Media.