Kurt Hugo Schneider is a man of many talents, as comfortable in front of the camera as he is behind it. He graduated from Yale in 2010, and though he majored in mathematics he’s chosen to pursue music production and filmmaking. Depending on what’s needed for any particular project, he films, edits, and produces videos; writes lyrics, music, and arrangements; beatboxes; and plays the guitar and keyboard (and various other non-traditional instruments). On the rare occasion when he takes the spotlight himself, Kurt has proven himself a capable singer, musician, actor, and even rapper.
Perhaps Kurt’s most important talent, though, is his ability to know what people will like. His love for pop music has taught him which songs will become hits, and much of his success has resulted from putting up just the right cover at just the right time. Similarly, Kurt knows a potential star when he sees one. In fact, as far as we can tell Kurt has only been wrong in this respect once, when he told an interviewer: “I’m not star material” a few years back. We get his point, but we still beg to differ.
Most or all of Kurt’s skills are self-taught—he has never taken any music lessons or had formal schooling in music production. He grew up in Blue Bell, Pennslyvania, and in high school was involved in the school’s music scene. In his senior year Kurt became interested in recording and composition, teaching himself to play the piano, record music, and produce videos.
His earliest efforts often involved Sam Tsui, a fellow resident of Blue Bell and an incredibly talented singer and actor. The two gradually progressed from “studio recordings” made with GarageBand and homemade equipment to slick Youtube music videos that earned them millions of views, hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and guest appearances on shows like Oprah and Ellen. They also collaborated on a full-length comedy movie titled College Musical, along with a number of other fellow students and friends from Yale.
Though occasionally his work appears elsewhere, the YouTube channel KurtHugoSchneider has always been the primary focus of Kurt’s efforts. It’s the home of goofy piano covers and professional music videos, covers and originals, and an ever-expanding roster of talented singers and musicians. Over the years Kurt has featured friends, unknowns, popular YouTube stars, and artists at the start of their careers. Today the KurtHugoSchneider channel is one of the top-50 most subscribed YouTube channels, with over 1.4 million subscribers, 100 videos, and 400 million total views.
Despite all that, in his videos Kurt maintains a personality that’s down-to-earth and modest—even self-deprecating. He keeps in close touch with his fans through Twitter, Facebook, and video updates, encouraging questions and input. And he’s always got something new and exciting in the works. (Is it any wonder he describes himself as an insomniac?) It’s hard to say where he’ll end up, and whether he’ll eventually take his talents in a more mainstream direction. Either way, he’s earned a loyal following for himself and for the musicians he collaborates with, and those fans will be following his career no matter where he ends up.
It would probably be impossible to locate and list every collaboration Kurt has done or video he has appeared in. But here is a sampling of his various non-KHS YouTube activities (for his best work, of course, visit his channel). Most of these are on Kurt’s favorites list, so be sure to check that out.
Also, don’t forget about Kurt’s second channel. It doesn’t update often, but there are a few good BTS videos up already.
Nerd Alert: Kurt has teamed up with popular StarCraft II commentator HuskyStarcraft to produce a series of fun and nerdy music videos under the band name “Nerd Alert.” The first, “Banelings,” was a spoof of Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby” and reached several million views in a couple of days. Even if you know nothing about the game StarCraft II or don’t consider yourself a nerd, these videos are hilarious and well worth a watch. They feature Kurt as lead singer, and benefit from his production and comedic writing skills.
Jake Bruene’s Channel: Jake Bruene is a friend of Kurt’s from Yale, and helped write the script for College Musical the Movie. Though he doesn’t post to it anymore, his YouTube channel is a great place to find videos ofKurt singing lead or background vocals (and then, of course, there is the infamous Kurt and Jake video battle). Here are a few of Jake’s covers that Kurt appears and sings in:
“Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls
“The Freshman” by Verve Pipe
“Just a Dream” by Nelly
“Everything That Aches”: The Project for Awesome is a charity event hosted every December by popular youtubers John and Hank Green (the vlogbrothers), and culminates in a live-streamed show featuring many of the top YouTube personalities. In 2010, Kurt appeared on the show to play and sing an original song he wrote that is strongly reminiscent of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
“Don’t Want an Ending” and “Everything that Aches” LIVE: Kurt performed two of his originals live w/ piano at the Songs for Souls concert in June 2011. It’s particularly interesting to see his take on “Ending,” a song he’s always been clearly passionate about.
“Pokemon Theme on Piano“: Just what it sounds like—a little impromptu performance from Kurt.
“Chess with Kurt Hugo Schneider“: And just to be completely random and stalkery, here’s a video of Kurt playing chess.