By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
Earlier this year, America saw the future of classical crossover music!
Young virtuosos (and brothers) Emil & Dariel shocked the America’s Got Talent (AGT) audience when they performed an impeccable cover of Jimi Hendrix’s classic “Purple Haze.” After receiving four “Yeses” from the judges, the brothers headed to Radio City Music Hall to participate in the Live Shows.
In addition to placing in the Top 12 this past season, Emil & Dariel have also performed with 2CELLOS’ Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser, who have dubbed the brothers: 2CELLOs Junior!
Emil & Dariel opened up about their time on AGT, several future projects and how social media helped grow their fanbase in this edition of A Conversation.
Jacob Elyachar: How long has music been in your lives? Who are some of your musical role models and how have they made an impact in your professional careers?
Emil: We have been surrounded by music since birth. Our grandfather would always practice his cello in the house, while we would be walking or crawling around as toddlers and so we never lacked exposure to music. Our mom took us to our grandpa’s concerts every chance we had. We began playing cello at the age of four. I asked grandpa to start teaching him as soon as he started to talk and Dariel just followed. We were mainly influenced and inspired by our grandfather as well as many of the great classical cellists (mostly Emanuel Feuermann and Gregor Piatigorsky) for most of our early life and looked up to them very much.
Dariel: Our grandfather paved the road for us in terms of introducing us to the instrument and teaching us his technique and style. He transferred his deep love of the cello onto us and he was also the one who instilled in us the long hours, hard work, dedication, discipline, and perseverance. Regardless of the genre of music we play today, whether it is classical, rock, pop, or metal, the techniques we were taught by our grandfather carry on through all of our arrangements and live performances.
JE: Could you share your arrangement process with my readers?
E: Well, the first part of the process is simply liking a particular song. It is challenging to arrange, yet, alone play a song that you do not connect with at a certain level. It is different from with classical music because you learn classical music for more of an “academic” purpose (to advance in your skill) while this music requires a lot more work to be able to play (it is not as simple as just reading sheet music). After that, we just listen to the song and study the main components, such as, the rhythm, chords and riffs. Then, we play it along a few times and change certain things to our own taste in order to either make it sound better for cello or just put our own twist to it. Finally, we put our work to the test as we play the song!
JE: Why did you decide to audition for “America’s Got Talent”?
D: While we were fans of the show for quite some time and always wanted to try out for AGT, we were actually one of the few acts that got contacted directly to audition for the show in a producers’ audition. We got a message on our YouTube channel from a casting agent that saw our videos who wanted to put us in contact with a producer, and so we had to submit a few audition tapes, and the next thing we knew, we were playing in front of the celebrity judges!
JE: What were some of your favorite memories from your time on AGT? What were the lessons that you learned from the show that you have implemented in the next stage of your careers?
E: Our favorite memories from our time on AGT would have to be all the amazing people we got to meet…We made lifelong friends with many of the contestants whom we still keep in touch with today as seen in our Twitter handle (@EmilandDariel). We met amazing fans and friends who have given us incredible support and strength to keep moving forward. We also worked with the top producers in the industry and got to interact with some of the biggest people in showbiz, which is priceless. Finally, all the exposure that we got by appearing on live TV in front of millions of people every episode led to our meeting of our incredible manager, John McEntee, whom we are so privileged and incredibly honored to work with. Also, we are delighted to announce that we are currently working with celebrity rock singers who will be on our album such as Mickey Thomas from Starship, Mike Reno of Loverboy, and Rick Derringer among others. All of this is absolutely overwhelming and we feel incredibly blessed. We cannot wait to share all of this with our fans.
D: From this incredible experience, we learned that with enough dedication, hard work and positivity, your dreams can come true and you can make it big! This is what we tell all of our fans who are trying to pursue their dreams, because we were in the same exact position not too long ago. We learned to work hard, do what we love, and to believe in ourselves as artists, performers, and as people. We also learned to be ready to run out on stage and perform a totally new song without much notice or preparation.
JE: In addition to appearing on “AGT,” you also performed with 2CELLOS. How big of an impact did Luka and Stjepan have on you as performers?
E: We were actually aware of Stjepan Hauser as a cellist before 2CELLOS; we remember watching his YouTube videos as early as 2007. When we heard of 2CELLOS for the first time, we recognized him and immediately thought “this looks very interesting”. Eventually, we ended up recording a video of us playing “Smooth Criminal” as a video response to them, and within a week they posted our video on their social media and named us “2CELLOS Junior”. After a few months, they ended up contacting us by email and asking us if we would like to join them on their Florida shows and, coincidentally, this was just a few days before we got contacted by AGT. We were very excited for this opportunity and extremely grateful to share the stage with two of the best cellists of today. Even though, we literally only spent a few hours with them, we saw just how well people reacted to what we both do and this gave us a huge boost of confidence.
JE: You will be releasing your studio album in the near future. What were some of the challenges that you faced during the recording process? How did you overcome them?
D: Well, one thing that many people do not know is that a recording artist is usually different from a “performing” (or live) artist. Recording songs requires extreme precision and skill as well as a very strong sense of perfection because recordings have to be as close to perfect as possible. You may play a song live a different way each time you perform it, but if you record something in a “bad” way, it stays with you forever. Hence, we really had to practice hard and make every note of every song as perfect as it could be. Another thing is that certain arrangements do not sound as good in the studio as they do live or vice versa, and so we have to be constantly improvising and searching for the right sound to make sure that not only we enjoy the music, but other people will as well.
JE: How has social media helped you grow your fanbase?
E: Social media actually helped us to not only grow our fan base, but to establish ourselves as a group in the very beginning. We started out uploading videos to YouTube years ago. We did classical songs that we arranged for just the two of us and slowly grew a small fan base of a few hundred people, which eventually expanded to thousands. The more videos we uploaded, the more fans we got! This gave us the drive to continue uploading videos. With each video, we also seemed to notice fan interaction and we began to respond to our fans and interact with them. The more we interacted with our fans, the closer we felt to them, and the harder we worked to provide content they enjoy. After AGT, obviously our social media grew tremendously and we now have a much more diverse audience then ever before. Social media allowed us to promote ourselves and to interact with our fans. The best part of all of this is that it let our fans share us with their friends in a way that was faster and easier than ever.
JE: If you had the chance to meet with aspiring performers who want to go into the entertainment industry, what advice would you share with them?
D: One thing that is very important is hard work and dedication. Successful artists have a history of work, patience, and even failures, behind them. Our advice would be to know what you do well and perfect it as much as possible. Also, be proactive, write e-mails, submit your work, and try to do everything you can to get ahead. Sitting at home and fantasizing about what could happen will never help you.