Passion is hauling your drained body after an entire day of classes – at a top Ivy League school, no less – to a recording session with only an electronic keyboard and GarageBand at your disposal, and wrapping the session once “the sun came up”, as Kurt Schneider put it, according to The New Paper.
Passion is also what binds this close-knit friendship between Sam Tsui (“TheSamTsui”) and Kurt (“KurtHugoSchneider”), who have won over the hearts of nearly 6 million subscribers on their YouTube channels and garnered the intrigued views of a billion.
Celebrated for their creative spins of the otherwise run-of-the-mill Top 40 music, Sam and Kurt are the masters of medleys and mash-ups; one of which their “Michael Jackson Medley” racked up 32 million views and counting.
Their artistry was further amplified in the form of a Coca-Cola advertisement released last August, with Kurt playing on Coca-Cola bottles, glasses and cans, and Sam lending his powerful vocals in place of Calvin Harris.
Singapore will get yet another taste of this hunky duo on June 27 during their Asia Tour 2014, and UrbanWire had a fair share of their melodious lingo in an interview about their music, collaborations and – you guessed it – passion for our country.
Sam is a top-notch vocalist, and Kurt is the master of many musical instruments. When and how did both of you first discover your inclination towards music?
Sam: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love music and entertaining. Even when I was a little kid, I would put on shows for my parents and friends. My mom was a music teacher, so music has always been a big part of my life.
Kurt: I came to music in high school, and discovered that I loved songs.
Who was your most memorable collaboration and what was the experience like?
Sam: We’ve become friends with a lot of our YouTube-musician colleagues, so [we] really enjoy working with them. One of our favorites was a duet track on my album with the talented Kina Grannis called “Bring Me the Night”. She’s a fantastic talent and a really wonderful person. But [Kurt and I] are, of course, each other’s longest and most frequent collaborators.
Out of all the possible collaborations, why have you two decided to team up?
Sam: We’ve known each other for a long time, so [we] know how to work really well together. But I think the most important thing is that both of us really respect the other’s musicianship and talent, so that even when we disagree, it usually results in a better end product.
What’s your relationship like off-screen?
Sam: We’ve been friends for so long, and we’re each other’s biggest supporters. It’s so cool and rare to succeed alongside someone you’ve known since you were in middle school.
Young aspiring musicians have been flocking to YouTube to share their music. With so much competition today, how do you ensure you stand out from the crowd?
Sam: We focus on creating content that we’re passionate about, and that excites us. If we start to get bored with what we’re doing, chances are our fans will too, so it’s always about trying to one-up ourselves, and [keeping] it fresh!
Both of you seem to be very adventurous when it comes to picking your filming locations. Instead of simply confining yourselves to the studio, we get barren lands, dense forests, sandy beaches, basketball courts, and the list goes on. Which video did you have the most fun filming?
Sam: The title song for my album, “Make It Up”, had one of the craziest video shoots we’ve ever done. It was a long, complicated one-take video that called for over a hundred extras and lots of choreography. We spent all day running around like crazy, but we couldn’t be happier with how the final product turned out!
Harassment, “trolling” and offensive comments are common on the Internet. How do you deal with such criticism?
Sam: You quickly learn to ignore what “trolling” there is, and honestly, our fans [are] usually so [quick to] vote down any kind of negativity, that we rarely see it anymore.
There are many different kinds of YouTubers: Musicians, animators, gamers, comedians, beauticians, etc. Will we see an appearance of the non-musical sides of Sam and Kurt on YouTube? Any hidden talents we are not aware of?
Sam: We both have a lot of interests, some of which have already found their way into some of our videos. I love art, and I’m also an actor. Kurt is a bit of a gamer, and [he] loves chess and is very good at it.
You will be returning to Singapore for your Asia Tour this June. What is it about Singapore that keeps you coming back for more?
Sam: We absolutely love Singapore, and love how amazing and passionate our fans there are. Our last show there was one of the most incredible experiences of our lives. We’re excited to come back, and share some more music. We love you, we love you, we love you Singapore!
Both of you graduated with top honors from the prestigious Yale University; Classical Greek for Sam, and Mathematics for Kurt. Do you have any plans on using those academic qualifications in the future?
Sam: While obviously neither of us is pursuing academics, I think being knowledgeable about other things like classics and math helps us to be well-rounded, and hopefully be more interesting artists as a result. I know I get a lot of artistic inspiration from what I studied in school, and math and music do in some ways relate for Kurt.
What are your future plans? World domination?
Sam: More and more great content! We want to keep doing what we love, and sharing it with even more fans around the world. We’ll be releasing some new original material very soon!
Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider will be performing at Kallang Theatre on June 27. Tickets from Sistic at $118 (Meet & Greet), $78 and $58.
All photos courtesy of Launch Entertainment