Sources: Telegram – By Roger Caitlyn | All Things Michael
Luka Sulic, 28, and Stjepan Hauser, 29 – have created vivid cello-only versions of songs made famous by acts as unexpected as Michael Jackson and AC/DC. Their cello version of “Smooth Criminal” has been seen more than 17 million times since 2011, and their 2014 “Thunderstruck” nearly 54 million.
Now Sulic and Hauser are on their biggest U.S. tour yet.
The Washington Post talked recently with Sulic from the road in Atlanta about the duo’s start, what they learned from touring with Elton John and how metal translates well to the cello.
Q: Success happened rather quickly, didn’t it?
A: The first song we did together, “Smooth Criminal,” it exploded straight away. We didn’t expect it would be so big from one song. But millions of kids watched it on YouTube, and then people started calling from all the TV shows – “Ellen DeGeneres” and “The Tonight Show.” Then record labels started being interested, and Elton John picked up on the song, invited us on tour and took us under his wing. We opened for him everywhere. Which was such an amazing experience. Then all the hard work began.
We got this breakthrough, so we had to think what direction we wanted to go, and got to work recording, arranging and continuing building though our YouTube channel and live concerts.
Q: How did you arrive at Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” as the song that would initially define you two?
A: We were in London, thinking of ideas, and were both big fans of Michael Jackson, wondering what we should do. Then we thought of “Smooth Criminal” because it would sound so cool on cello – that chk-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka in the start of it. So we went back to Croatia and rented a cheap studio for $100 for a full day and had the song finished. We did the arrangement when I was in London finishing studies, we Skyped together to practice and went to studio and did the audio recording. Then we made a video for $1,000 from a videographer who gave us a discount – we split the cost, $500 each – and it changed our life, with such little investment.
Q: What came next?
A: “Welcome to the Jungle” was the second video, and it was a great step up toward more rock. Then we dropped our first album on Sony Masterworks, which sold well. But we didn’t continue making as many videos as we should. We went on the road with Elton John and didn’t have time to build our YouTube fan base. So later, when we realized that, we filmed “Thunderstruck,” which was a bigger hit than “Smooth Criminal” and took us a step higher. We started doing what we wanted, took charge of our own career, went back to our roots and started making more videos. Since then, it’s been going even better, and we try to record as many live concerts as possible.
Q: Are you seeing a lot of young people in your audience as a result?
A: Our fan base is so diverse. We have rock fans, classical music fans and crossover fans. … We see a lot of aspiring musicians in the audience. We get fan mail every day from kids who aspire to play. In Croatia, there are not enough cello teachers or cellos in music school because of what we did.
Read more about their incredible journey here.