Chloe and Halle Bailey are living, breathing (and singing) proof that persistence pays off.
Nine years ago, the sisters launched their YouTube channel. Perched in front of a webcam in their Atlanta basement, they set to work recording renditions of Rihanna, Beyoncé and Lorde.
Last year, their cover of Beyoncé’s ‘Pretty Hurts’ caught the eye (and ear) of Queen Bey herself. And today, under the management of Beyoncé’s record label Parkwood Entertainment, the duo’s soulful, sassy sound has the music industry pricking its ears for more.
OK, I guess this example is an outlier. Not every budding musician covering Beyoncé on YouTube is going to land a contract with The Queen. But when divine talent and persistence combine, the stars align. Or so they did for this sister act, who recently added a cameo in Bey’s Lemonade to their fast- growing list of accolades. Under the moniker Chloe x Halle, they’ve officially been dubbed “Beyoncés protégés.”
Enough about Beyoncé. Seventeen and 16 respectively, after bursting on the scene via their YouTube channel, Chloe and Halle have made the journey from social media to professional recording studio. It's here they recently celebrated the release of their first EP, Sugar Symphony.
“When my sister and I came up with the title, we just wanted a cool alliteration,” laughs Chloe, the chattier of the two. Throughout our short conversation, the girls talk a lot about complex songwriting conventions. They’re conscious of using metaphors, allegory, similes... a consciousness that indicates a musical maturity well beyond their years. In fairness, you can’t expect any less from two girls raised on a diet of Jazz and Southern Soul. Growing up, Halle’s favourite artist was Billie Holiday.
“As the EP grew, the title took on more meaning. The Sugar is the harmony and the sweet, softer melodies. But the hard beats and the 808s that make your heart rumble... they’re the Symphony. Together, it’s Sugar Symphony!” Like a recipe? I ask. “Yeah! Like a recipe. For a really sweet cake. But hidden inside the cake is something more... serious,” the girls laugh. I laugh. I’m laughing with Beyoncé’s protégés.
Okay, no more Beyoncé.
What’s even more topical is the music video that accompanies ‘Drop’, the first track on the EP. It’s got horses, a dancing guy with pink hair, rolling green pastures, a sparkling sunset and the girls rocking some seriously swanky threads.
“The horses in the video were such angels,” exclaims Chloe, who had never ridden a horse prior. “My horse’s name was Flax, and apparently he’s just made his movie debut. I rode a famous horse,” she chuffs, proudly. I wonder if Flax knows he carried a famous girl.
Often photographed connected by the ponytail, Chloe and Halle aren’t afraid to admit they’re inseparable. “My sister is my best friend,” says Halle, who politely prefaces her responses with: “now this is Halle speaking.” I guess it’s easy to get the girls’ voices confused, especially when they’re so good at finishing each other’s sentences.
But when booming from the verses of tracks like ‘Thunder’ and ‘Lazy Love’, the girl’s crescendos are easier to tell apart. According to Chloe, they have their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia to thank for such tremendous vocal chords. “It’s so humid in Atlanta, and the humidity and moisture is really great for your voice. You might notice some great singers are from Atlanta [Usher, Cee Lo Green and Kelly Rowland call the city home]. It’s 'cause the climate helps cultivate such a strong voice.”
Before our time is up, I can’t help but bring it back to Beyoncé. Chloe and Halle are part of the girl gang that strut their stuff through Lemonade. Was it hard for the sisters to keep the spectacle a secret? “Actually, not at all!” replies Chloe. “Me and my sister [sic] would just talk about it between ourselves all the time.”
The fact Bey entrusted the girls with one of the greatest musical secrets of 2016 is also indicative of their maturity. And the fact they’ve just dropped an EP, but are already working on an album (and tour!) proves these divas are darn dedicated.
For now, they’re off to band rehearsal. So while they’re tuning, we’re staying tuned.
This feature was originally published in Fashion Journal issue 158.