AYO Percussionist Carissa Soares smiles at the camera while holding a tray of cupcakes.

“For both baking and music-making, you have to be determined and passionate because if your heart isn’t in it, the end product won’t turn out as amazing as it could’ve.”

AYO percussionist Carissa Soares has two strong passions, both of which involve getting creative and sharing with a community. This Perth-based musician has fallen in love with marimba and vibraphone and, at the same time, baking decadent desserts. We chatted to her about these passions and the overlap between orchestral music and her baking business.

When did you start playing percussion?

I started playing percussion when I was 14 years old, but before this I played piano since I was 7 years old and a bit of cello. 

What made you choose percussion and where does your passion come from?

My high school music teachers encouraged me to take up percussion and I fell in love with mallet instruments like the marimba and vibraphone because of their beautiful tone quality. I’ve always been passionate about music in general, which comes from my mum and her support and encouragement for me pursuing a career in music. I’m extremely passionate about showing the wider community the diversity of percussion instruments and that percussion isn’t just drums. There’s so much more to it! 

AYO Percussionists pictured from the side facing right standing in front of percussion instruments.
Credit: Fabrizio Evans

What was your favourite piece of repertoire you performed at AYO Autumn Music Camp?

I loved performing Ravel’s La Valse. This piece was so exhilarating! It starts out with a Danse Macabre feeling in the tremolos of the strings and woodwind melodies which makes it so captivating right from the start. By the end, the rhythms get wilder and more energetic, and you can vividly imagine dancing in a grand ballroom. 

Tell me about your hobby as a baker, when did this begin and why?

I got into baking when I was in my first year of uni. I had a bit more time on my hands and usually baked something for events like Easter, Christmas and family birthdays. I think the birthday cakes are where I really got to run wild with creativity—who doesn’t love a personalised birthday cake!?

Every time I’d bake one, I’d try a new technique or design to keep it interesting and expand my skill set. I love trying out new ideas and seeing how happy people are when they get to eat their delicious treats!

15 cupcakes arranged on a baking rack photographed from above. Each has colourful icing and a unique design.

Where are you based?

I’m based in Perth, WA and operating my baking business from home. 

Did you have a mentor or someone who taught you to bake?

My mum loves to cook and she taught me the basics of baking. I’ve also learned a lot from my uncle in the U.S. and whenever we’re in the same country he shares all of his tips and tricks. For most of my recent baking adventures, I’ve mainly referred to reels on Instagram and YouTube tutorials. 

What has been your favourite thing you’ve made so far?

My favourite thing so far would be an entremet. It’s a French dessert with multiple layers and textures. It is also by far the most complicated thing I’ve ever made.

I made the entremet for my parents’ anniversary and it had a sponge base, raspberry jelly centre surrounded by a mousse and covered with a mirror glaze. I tried one at a local French patisserie and it was so delicious I had to try to recreate it! I probably won’t try it again anytime soon because it took me four days and a whole lot of mess in the process. 

AYO Percussionist Carissa Soares smiles at the camera. She wears a white jumper and is standing behind a snare drum and music stand.
Carissa Soares (centre) pictured with two of her fellow AYO percussionists at AYO Autumn Music Camp 2021. Aditya Bhat (far left), Jack Peggie (far right). Credit: Fabrizio Evans

Do you think there’s any cross-over with music-making and baking?

Absolutely! Baking is also a creative outlet and there are a number of skills I’ve learned in music-making that transfer to baking. For one, you have to be patient. Baking takes time in the same way that as a musician might have to wait 100 bars in a symphony to play their instrument… but it’s totally worth the wait!

For both baking and music-making, you have to be determined and passionate because if your heart isn’t in it, the end product probably won’t turn out as amazing as it could’ve and you’re less likely to feel the joy and satisfaction.

The biggest overlap between the two is bringing a community together. It’s so amazing to play music to an audience in the same way it is to share a specially made cake with family and friends. The smiles on people’s faces are so heart-warming, and I’m lucky to get a double dose of smiles between performing music and baking scrumptious treats for others!