A long time ago, in a galaxy (not so) far, far away – Croatia, to be exact, in 2011 – two boys, who were considered rivals posted a video on Youtube, covering Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal on their cellos. Since then they are a sensation, managing to mash-up pop, rock and classical music into one, borderline insane product, which is so insanely good that you have to hear it to believe it.
However, before their video went viral – what were they doing? The pair, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, were both fascinated by the cello since they were very young. Luka says he has started when he was five, and they both fell in love with that instrument immediately, no questions asked. Stjepan confesses that he was very little when he heard it on the radio and thought that the sound was so warm and magical. “It was a beautiful slow sound. It sounded like a human voice, so tender and gentle.” He says. As for Luka, his father was a cellist – he started when he was five and has never had any other bigger passion that the cello, he says he has never thought about doing anything else.
They met when they were 14 years old, since both of them went to competitions and performances and won many awards on their own in their younger years. They were considered rivals, while in fact they were good friends, but the tension always stayed, the energy and excitement of the rivalry. Both were young, ambitious, excellent musicians from the same country, both participated in the same competitions, practiced like crazy, so naturally they were always competing for the top spot. Funny thing is, they still do it, the rivalry hasn’t diedbetween them, even now that they are in the same “team“ – they admit that they still compete, but this time it’s for… Facebook likes! (Stjepan says that when you’re bored – Luka’s winning.)
Turns out they wanted to play together for a long time before they actually could achieve that, mainly because of their different countries of studying – but then one day Luka came to London to study where Stjepan was and things flowed naturally from there. They have a natural chemistry together and feel what the other is going to do and adjust themselves to one another – it was there from the first moment, both boys agree.
After they started practicing and playing together, they discovered many new things. Aside from classical music they had many different interests and one day they realized they don’t have to divide music into different categories, when it is all art. “Music is universal.” Stjepan states and he couldn’t be more right. Furthermore, a cello has so many possibilities when you are the master of it, so why not use them and do something exciting. It was in London where they decided to try on something new, something will less restrictions and rules than classical music. They were about to start a revolution. A cello musical revolution.
The first video of theirs that gained hype was the “Smooth Criminal” cover they did – it gained more than 3 million views in less than two weeks from the date they posted it on Youtube. Getting so many views, they say, was amazing. It was all of their dreams come true, everything they imagined, but also very stressful, since the world of show business is very different from the world of classical music. They say they have gotten up to 100 e-mails a day at that time. Now they get that number in five minutes, but back then it was a different time – they were all alone, with only one uploaded video gaining all the attention, no managers, no nothing. Thankfully, they met the right people at the right time – Elton John discovered them, signed them up under his management and helped them through all that. If not for the good management, they would have stayed as Youtube sensations for a day and not develop much more. Luckily, they did and they even signed up with Sony and their second album was full of collaborations.
They are known for combining classical stuff with hard rock,where the two worlds collide and break the boundaries – that’s where they like to jam. But how do they come up with materials? Well, most of the time they suggest things to each other and then start arranging the original piece to fit a classical music instrument. Sometime things come really quickly, other times they don’t really agree with each other. It took a year for Luka to agree to mash-up ‘Wake me up’, but in the end the result was a great song with a fun and energetic video clip. They say the video is very biographical for them. Make sure to check it out.
In the video they are seen as old people, who are still playing cello together. They boys actually really see themselves still playing together even they are old and grey – they would like to keep the child inside.
Even though they are most famous for their covers, they have some original pieces in their albums, the most important one being ‘Celloverse’. The term was actually coined by fans in social networks, where most of their marketing is done. Since they have a young audience and they are very young themselves, they use Facebook and Twitter a lot – the marketing tools of the new era – to promote classical music stuff. Many classical musicians should learn from them and use those tribunes – they have proven to be useful.Anyway, Celloverse is their most successful original piece, most of their fans say that it’s their favorite from the albumand this encourages them to do more original pieces.
All this success has taken them to all kinds of different places around the world – they have played in Australia, Japan, USA, Canada, Russia, Macedonia, Romania, UK, Turkey, Germany, Austria, Belgium and more. Actually they celebrated ‘Smooth Criminal’s fourth year anniversary in Japan in January and since then January 20th is officially 2CELLOS day in Japan.
Apart from having their own official holiday, the tickets to their concerts are bought out very quickly – their gigs in USA are mostly booked by now and they have made appearances in many talk shows like ‘Ellen’, ‘The tonight show’ with Jay Leno, the ‘Today’ show and even had a cameo in ‘Glee’. No matter where they go, they perform with so much passion that they manage to destroy at least one bow in each performance. But it definitely pays off – their take on ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ is so breath taking that it keeps you on edge the whole time they play – the chemistry between them, the hype, the energy they put in each stroke – it’s definitely what every classical musician should live up to when performing.