Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider Interview

THE STAR SCOOP:
You work together a lot. How did you guys meet and start working together?

KURT SCHNEIDER:
Some people know this, but a lot of people don’t. Me and Sam were on the same bus route in middle school. That’s when we first met each other.

SAM TSUI:
We both lived in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, which is a small suburb outside of Philadelphia. We literally lived right down the street from one another, a couple houses away…Toward the end of high school, both of us were involved in the chorus and music scene. We started to become better friends through that.

He’s a year above me, so he went off and left to Yale and then the next year, I independently made the decision to also apply and got in.  At that point, we were the only kids from our high school that were at Yale. [Kurt] had started to do some music stuff in the year that he’d been at Yale before I was there, and so when I got there, it made sense and we started collaborating together, and everything else was sort of history from that point on.

THE STAR SCOOP:
What is your musical background?

KURT SCHNEIDER:
I always loved music. I didn’t start playing the piano at a really young age. I didn’t start playing the guitar when I was super young. I taught myself piano in high school and started playing guitar in college. I’ve always loved music. I’ve always loved listening to blatant pop music.

SAM TSUI:
My mom was a high school music teacher from Iowa…so I grew up in a house where we had a piano and our whole family is a big supporter of the arts and music. From a really young age, I was singing recreationally. I always said that I wanted to be a singer. Probably [by] middle school/high school I was pretty sure I wanted to perform or sing in some capacity.

THE STAR SCOOP:
Are you studying/did you study music or some music related field?

KURT SCHNEIDER:
I got my degree in mathematics, so I guess I studied math in school. I actually really didn’t go to class too much.

SAM TSUI:
I can corroborate that [laughs].

Interestingly enough, I’m actually majoring in classical Greek, which is perhaps as far on the other end of the spectrum as you could get from music. That was actually one of the things I loved most about Yale…it was a place where I could pursue something totally different academically but still have all the kinds of opportunities and resources to do just as much music as I would majoring in it.

THE STAR SCOOP:
You guys must be superstars in the area/on campus.

KURT SCHNEIDER:
It’s crazy! Everyone at school, they knew us when we had three subscribers, when we had like, none! They would know us as Sam or Kurt. They don’t really see us as YouTube  people. It’s crazy! The whole rise on YouTube happened really fast for us.

SAM TSUI:
Everyone who was there before sort of knew me as just Sam, that kid who is in their class…But for a lot of these new kids who are coming to Yale, the first way they know about me is through the YouTube stuff…it’s funny to meet these people who, their first impression of me is not from knowing me personally, but who perceive me as this big YouTube star guy.

When we first started putting stuff up, we had no idea that it would reach this level. We’re obviously very grateful that it did and very excited.

THE STAR SCOOP:
You just put up a collaboration with Christina Grimmie. How hard is it to put something like that together? It looks amazing.

KURT SCHNEIDER:
It is a lot of work. That video was actually put together over a fairly small period of time…If we’re really devoted to something, we’ll just take at it for hours and hours on end and then soon enough there will be a video.

SAM TSUI:
It was pretty fast, believe it or not…laid down the track, we recorded most of the vocals in one day and the video quickly there after it. Obviously the editing took a while. It goes faster than you would think. When we get started on something, because we enjoy it so much, the time goes quickly and we just tend to crank stuff out in a pretty concentrated amount of time.

THE STAR SCOOP:
Sam, you’re almost done with school, and Kurt, you are done with school. Is this going to be a full time thing for you guys? What are your plans post-graduation?

SAM TSUI:
That’s definitely a good question and something I’ve been thinking a lot about, and don’t know that I yet have a good answer. But certainly, continuing to create this kind of content is something that is an absolute must for me. I’m actually looking forward to graduating, if only because it will give me more time to be able to work on this kind of stuff with Kurt and actually devote myself fully to it.

KURT SCHNEIDER:
We definitely have something that’s going right, right now. Definitely, I fully want to continue. It seems to be working well.

THE STAR SCOOP:
You guys have released some original music now.

SAM TSUI:
That’s absolutely something we want to start doing more of. A couple months ago we released a music video to one of Kurt’s original songs, and people loved it. More original material, music videos, are definitely something we want to focus on.

KURT SCHNEIDER:
Yeah. We’ve got some originals in the works that I think you are really going to like. I can’t wait until everyone out there can hear that. I think they’ll all really enjoy what we have in store.

THE STAR SCOOP:
Kurt, we saw that you actually sing as well. A lot of people are wondering if you and Sam have done any singing together?  Nothing on YouTube yet?

SAM TSUI:
We haven’t! The only thing we’ve done together is the shows and things we did together in high school.

KURT SCHNEIDER:
That’s true. You know, Sam is a much better singer than me. We sang in little groups in high school as Sam said. We did musicals together. That was a time!

THE STAR SCOOP:
In terms of who you might collaborate with in the future, are there any plans for who you might work with next? And also, we are formally putting in our request for one with Lisa Lavie. She’s amazing.

SAM TSUI:
She is awesome.

KURT SCHNEIDER:
She has a pretty incredible voice. I’m a big fan. We’re possibly doing another collab with an R&B group named Ahmir. We love them. We’re always keeping a lookout on who the people are on YouTube.

THE STAR SCOOP:
Interesting facts or things we don’t know about you yet that would be fun for fans to know?

SAM TSUI:
One funny thing, and these will never be released, I’m pretty sure…In high school we did do a little bit of, I guess you could call it “studio recording.” We did a couple recordings of some of Kurt’s original stuff…instead of the wind protector and the mic, we took a hanger and twisted it into a circle and put pantyhose around it. It was a very humble set up.

KURT SCHNEIDER:
That actually worked shockingly well, I gotta say. That was a surprising success.

SAM TSUI:
[Laughs] There some other problems with those recordings, including the fact that I sound awful in them.

KURT SCHNEIDER:
Or the fact that the songs weren’t good…but ignoring all that…

THE STAR SCOOP:
For anyone who watches your videos and then decides, hey I want to give this a shot, is there any specific advice you have for people you have for what might help them be successful?

SAM TSUI:
I think a big part of what has made us successful and what makes a lot of people on YouTube successful is two things. One, you really have to enjoy making the videos. That’s a huge part of what makes any performance on YouTube shine…If you love what you’re doing, I think that translates into a video that people want to watch.

And also, that combined with something creative or new. That’s always what excites people the most. Whether it’s a take on a song that they’ve never seen before or some concept or idea that’s fresh and new. A combination of enjoying what you’re doing and coming up with something that’s your own, I think those are two of the keys to success for a YouTube video.

THE STAR SCOOP:
What do you want to say to  your fans?

SAM TSUI:
First and foremost, just a huge thanks. Honestly, this really started for us as something that was fun to do. We both love making music, love making videos like this. The fact that people started showing interest…and give us a real reason to be able to put a lot of time and love and energy into it has been absolutely amazing.

Just the incredibly, incredibly positive response we’ve gotten from people and the continued interest is not only really touching for us and means a lot to us, but the fact that it allows us to keep doing this stuff that we love and be able to take it seriously is a gift. That’s 100 percent the fans and the people who continue to watch and subscribe to us. I know I’m certainly so thankful for that.

KURT SCHNEIDER:
They’ve been with us since the beginning and they are so much of the reason why we’re here.

Kurt and Sam on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/KurtHugoSchneider

iTunes:
http://www.itunes.com/SamTsui
http://www.itunes.com/SamTsuiAndKurtSchneider

Kurt Schneider Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KurtHSchneider
Sam Tsui Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/samueltsui

Kurt Schneider on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KurtHugoSchneider
Sam Tsui on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SamTsuiMusic

Kurt Schneider MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/KurtHugo
Sam Tsui Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/SamTsui

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