No guitars this week. Strings, by all means. But no guitars. Instead, we’ll be talking cellos. 2Cellos, to be exact. Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser are Croatian classically educated musicians who did for the cello what Vanessa Mae did for the violin. For the past decade or so, they have been fusing rock, pop and classical music. In the process, they’ve landed a major label, a string of albums and global stardom.
Hauser was born in the Slovenian town of Maribor to a Croatian father and a Slovenian mother while Šulić hails from the Croatian port town of Pula. It was there where the pair first met, as teenagers and occasional rivals in music competitions. They both graduated from the Academy of Music in the Croatian capital Zagreb and then went on to study in London and Vienna respectively. Soon thereafter, they uploaded their first video to YouTube. The clip went viral and life was never the same.
2Cellos managed to occupy a very specific niche in popular music production. They were neither the first nor are they the most original in this undertaking, but somehow they managed to make their act last longer than anything similar we’ve seen so far. Perhaps the trick is in the fact that they do classical covers of pop and rock songs, and not the other way around, which was Vanessa Mae’s short lived domain. At any rate, they’ve been at this for a decade and unlike Mae, they don’t need to think about a skiing career just yet.
Fame came thick and fast for 2Cellos back in 2011. First, there was a string of festivals, then an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and soon after that, they got picked up as a supporting act by none other than Elton John. What was initially to be a one-off tour, turned into a five-year collaboration, which included an appearance alongside Sir Elton a The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert in 2012.
To date, 2 Cellos have released six albums, all of them under Sony’s classical music label. That, too, is saying something, as artists these days tend to label-hop a lot. Somewhere in between Hauser and Šuljič even managed to address the one substantial piece of criticism regarding to their music. Namely, lack of original content. They are massively popular for their covers. Their third album Celloverse, included their first original track.
Despite their global popularity – or precisely because of it, Hauser and Šulič never stopped performing with classical orchestras. They are, after all, classically trained musicians. Šulič, for example, even took a break from the duo to focus on personal classical music projects. His 2019 album Vivaldi reached number 1 on classical music charts. But the intermission was brief and the duo is back at it.
Check out Two Cello’s music on YouTube, Spotify, or wherever you get your music from. Balkan Express will be back next week.
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of, you guessed it, the Balkans. Forget gusle and tamburice, this show is about rock, pop and a sense of humour. Well, at least there’s guitars. On air most Tuesdays in a new-and-improved time-slot at 1100 hrs. Usually. Your train conductor is Aljaž (aka @pengovsky) who once did the world a solid and decided never to sing again in public. Which is why he ended up doing radio.
TuesdaysWith : Aljaž Every Tuesday at 10.00
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of the Balkans.