Sara D’Ippolito and Kenny Reichert of Sara and Kenny describe their music as a fusion of many things, including jazz harmonies, Latin American rhythm and traditional folk music from southern Italy called Tarantella.
“It’s jazz in the sense that it’s a little more intricate, and folk because of the story telling and acoustic factors,” D’Ippolito said.
Both are primarily guitarists, yet after jokingly incorporating the ukulele into some music, they grew fond of it and the new sound possibilities it allowed.
“Sometimes when you switch to an instrument you’re less familiar with, it opens up new possibilities,” Reichert said.
Both D’Ippolito and Reichert are classically trained. D’Ippolito attended a conservatory in Rome and Reichert studied jazz at Berkeley.
When making music they relay ideas to each other, combining two different styles of guitar to create a unique product. Sometimes the process is short. Other times, it may take weeks or months, Reichert said. In any case, they do not settle on a product unless they are both pleased by it musically and lyrically.
In addition to extensive preparation for the release of their second album, Familiar Rhythms, the two are currently touring to support the release, writing new music and even planning for their upcoming wedding.
They hope to work with other artists in the future and explore various approaches to self-expression. The two enjoy touring and aspire to expand their international fan base to reach new audiences and develop musically based on new experiences.
The band has performed extensively over the last two years. Though they identify as travel addicts and enjoy performing everywhere, one show stuck out in particular. The show took place at the Troubadour in London, where “people are only there to listen to music,” Reichert said.
“Those types of experiences, regardless of where you go, are special,” D’Ippolito said.
During live performances, the duo aim to create a connection with the people who are listening. Reichert said he believes a live performance is an artist’s invitation to “bring you into their world.”
“The best thing we can ask for is anyone willing to give us a listening,” Reichert said. “It’s always a blessing when people are willing to listen to us.”
D’Ippolito and Reichert met for the first time by chance about three years ago. Eight months later they ran into each other, once again by chance. Soon afterwards, they began performing together.
“She invited me to play at a couple of her gigs, then she started coming out and performing with me,” Reichert said. “Everything happened organically.”
Their musical and personal relationship quickly grew. They began writing songs together, and soon after discovered their mothers had attended confirmation class together about 20 years prior to their first encounter. In many ways, the duo felt they were destined to play together.
Their second album varies from their first, as the development of their relationship has influenced their individual musical development. Their writing is a reflection of their growth as a musical couple.
“We like to think that life is a work of art,” D’Ippolito said. “[The first album was] almost like a Sara before Kenny.”
“I would be worried if the music wasn’t changing,” Reichert said.
The band draws inspiration from many artists. On one hand, they admire artists with whom they share similar musical characteristics such as Lionel Loueke, Becca Stevens and Gilad Hekselman. They also admire more widely recognized artists like James Blake, Kate Bush and Radiohead.
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The music from which they draw inspirations from is not genre specific. Rather, it is the ability of the music’s capacity to evoke emotions within the listener.
On the subject of lyrics, D’Ippolito said their intention is to write in an abstract way.
“We hope the fans can read in them what they want,” D’Ippolito said.
“We never write to specifically please the audience, but we hope they will get something out of it — that they will like it or have a reaction,” Reichert said.
Familiar Rhythms was released on April 20, and is currently available on Bandcamp, Spotify and iTunes. You can also catch Sara and Kenny live in Madison on April 28 at Memorial Union.