They are academic whizzes who graduated two years ago from Yale University, one of America's prestigious Ivy League universities.
Yet, Sam Tsui and his childhood friend and music partner Kurt Schneider ditched their degrees in classical Greek and mathematics respectively to pursue their love for music.
The duo, both 24, found fame on YouTube in 2010 when they collaborated with fellow US YouTube singer Christina Grimmie on the song Just A Dream, which has garnered more than 68 million views.
By February 2012, their YouTube channel "KurtHugoSchneider" garnered over 525 million views and more than three million subscribers.
The Internet celebrities have been pals since they were 11 years old and first worked together after recording their "terrible first song" in 2006.
Speaking to LOUD while travelling from Dallas, Texas, to Nashville, Tennesse, to meet Schneider, Tsui said: "I wouldn't call us smart, both me and Kurt were just very fortunate to get into the university."
He continued: "I've always known that I wanted to do music or get into entertainment, but I just wasn't sure in what form."
Tsui admitted that his education was always a priority for his Hong Kong-born father, adding: "(My parents have) known from pretty early on that I loved the arts and despite the fact that my dad can be a bit of a typical Asian dad, he did marry my (American) mum, who was a high school music teacher.
"Ultimately, they just wanted me to be happy more than anything."
He did, however, reveal that the fortunate sequence in which his music career unfolded played a huge role in eventually gaining his parents' acceptance of his current career path.
"We were both just in school getting our respective degrees and we started doing (music) as a hobby because we loved it.
"But by the time we graduated, our videos had already taken off and my dad had already started bragging to his friends by saying, 'Have you seen my son's video on YouTube?'"
Schneider, who is of German and Austrian descent and claims to have come from a family of mathematicians, also had to deal with the pressure of having to follow in their footsteps.
But Schneider's mum seems to have provided the artistic gene that has overthrown the "nerd" gene in her son, who also became a chess master at the age of 15 and played for Yale's chess team.
Paying the bills
"My dad was a math professor and mum's a visual artist.
"I pursued math in university because it was something that came very naturally and I love studying it, but just like Sam, all my parents want is for me to be happy and, of course, pay all my bills," Schneider told LOUD with a chuckle during the same conference call.Just like every other Ivy League alumnus, the pair have vague back-up plans.
Tsui said: "I'm definitely going to do this for as long as I can.
"Music is certainly my first love, but maybe when we are completely done with this, I would either pursue (the) classics further or go into visual arts just like mum...I don't know."
Schneider, though, reckons that if he leaves maths for too long, he may well be too old to get back into it.
"Math is a young man's game and I don't think I would do it when I turn, for example, 60.
"If I ever went further into the subject, I would want to leave my mark in the history of the subject and become a mathematician, but doing that requires dedication, and time is simply not on my side right now."
Having grown up together, the guys claim there have never been conflicts between them because they are always "focused on the same goal that they both want to achieve".
We're not sure if female attention was one of those goals, but they have certainly checked that box.
"There are a lot of fan girls that give us YouTube comments and we have had a few marriage proposals, even though these girls are not quite marrying age.
"But it's really cool to know that we bring them joy," Schneider said.
Added Tsui: "Every now and then, there's always a girl who starts crying in front of us, either while we're performing or after or even both.
"Any reaction that they have, we know that it's because in some way our music or what we do has affected them and that is just incredible to us. And to think that we are just two normal guys who make music."
The duo said that they will continue to compete against the sea of talented struggling musicians on video-sharing site by "trying to make (themselves) better by continuously trying to up their game from the previous thing we did".
What: Sam Tsui & Kurt Hugo Schneider Asia Tour - Singapore
When: Sept 12, 8pm
Where: Kallang Theatre
Tickets: $108 (inclusive of meet-andgreet session), $78 and $58 from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or 6348-5555)
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