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Singers seamlessly switch vocal roles

Singers seamlessly switch vocal roles

Cassie Sosa and Emma Meisel, the two halves of East Greenbush-based teenage songwriting duo Cass & E

Cassie Sosa and Emma Meisel, the two halves of East Greenbush-based teenage songwriting duo Cass & Emma, have a somewhat haphazard method of deciding who sings which part in their songs.

“Last time we wrote, we flipped a coin — that was it,” Sosa said recently, while sitting with Meisel in a restaurant in East Greenbush.

“It’s really random, and we switch harmonies throughout the song,” Meisel added. “Suddenly, I’ll just be singing a harmony, and in the middle of the line we’ll just switch.”

“It’s whatever works best for us,” Sosa said. “Also, let’s say we’re writing a song about a specific topic, and . . .”

“A certain line relates more to me,” Meisel said.

Cass & Emma

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Emack & Bolio’s, 366 Delaware Ave., Albany

HOW MUCH: Free

MORE INFO: 512-5100, www.ebalbany.com

“Yeah, then she would get the line,” Sosa said. “But most of the time, it’s like, you know what? We don’t mind. We’ll just flip a coin and just wing it.”

The two have an ease with each other — often finishing each other’s sentences throughout the interview — that’s been honed by more than four years of performing together. This camaraderie translates into the close-knit harmonies found on their iTunes-released singles “The Stars Shine on Me” and “Just to See You Smile.”

“I always joke around,” Sosa said. “‘Let’s just throw everybody off and just . . .”

“Totally switch verses,” Meisel interjected.

“I’ll straighten my hair, you curl yours.”

“I think when we sing together, we blend better together, but singing alone we have totally different voices,” Meisel said. “And somehow, it blends.”

“There’s a click; it just works,” Sosa said. “So many people tell us that — they’re like, ‘You guys are — it’s like an amazing duo.’ It just blends and it just works. Sometimes it doesn’t work [for other people], but luckily for us it just does.”

Sosa and Meisel, now both 16 and juniors at Columbia High School, started out in the seventh grade singing covers by such artists as Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.

Expanding range

Over the years, they have expanded their performances from school functions to coffee shops, farmers’ markets and other venues throughout the Capital Region and beyond — the farthest out they’ve performed so far is Fonda. Their next performance will be at Emack & Bolio’s, one of their favorite venues to play, on Friday night.

“We do open mics at Emack & Bolio’s, over the summer — we love them,” Sosa said. “And we’re probably the youngest ones doing it. . . . It’s not like it’s a teenage open mic, so it’s something different. And I think it helps because it’s different, that we’re 16 and this is what we want to do.”

Both Meisel and Sosa talk of studying music in college once they graduate from high school, and both had a musical upbringing. Meisel grew up listening to her mother sing and watching “The Sound of Music,” while Sosa took piano lessons before picking up guitar.

But when they met in seventh grade, neither realized how important music would become to them. In fact, the duo didn’t exactly hit it off immediately, according to Sosa.

“We just met through school, but I always used to steal her pencils and she didn’t like it,” Sosa said. “So we weren’t really that close at first.”

The two ended up sitting next to each other in chorus class, and soon thereafter decided to start singing together. Sosa was just picking up guitar at the time, and Meisel started playing guitar too.

“At first it was just covers, and then — I was writing solo songs before we started writing duet songs together,” Meisel said. “And then we wrote our first song together, and . . .”

“A lot of people liked it,” Sosa said.

“Yeah, so we just kept writing songs together, and just — it kind of stuck.”

The two write about “anything a teenage girl would write about” — they have songs about bullying, relationships and even a song about their love of music. When inspiration strikes — usually just a single lyric or idea — the two will finish the song on the spot, no matter how long it takes.

“Whatever work we’re doing, it just comes randomly, and then we could be stuck staring at the wall for another hour,” Sosa said. “We will finish; we will not wait. We will not say, ‘Oh, let’s finish writing next week.’ We will stay. . . . ‘Just to See You Smile’ took about six hours.”

Although their performances only feature the duo playing acoustic guitars and singing — Sosa sometimes plays piano, as well — their recordings are full-band affairs featuring drums, bass, electric guitar and other instruments. They record with Mike Normandin in his home studio in Colonie and are currently working on a new single, “Boomerang.”

Live recording

However, they also have plans to capture their stripped-down live sound on a future recording, as well.

“That’s different than the recording, so we really want to capture that and share it with people who many not be able to come to our gigs all the time,” Meisel said. “Because we have a lot of friends who come to our gigs, but then some of them, it’s tough, because [the shows are on] Friday nights, Saturday nights.”

“And then, [the shows] are not in East Greenbush; they’re in Albany, they’re in Troy, they’re in Schenectady, they’re in Fonda,” Sosa continued.

“And we did have friends drive nearly an hour away to come to Fonda. We just have a great support system, with everyone’s family doing as much as they can to help us get our name out there — because we want our name out there. We want — you could be able to go up to that guy and be like, ‘Do you know Cass & Emma?’ and I want them to be like, ‘Yeah!’ ”

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