From YouTube to Beyoncé’s Parkwood: the Rise of Chloe x Halle

Get to know Beyoncé's proteges before they skyrocket to superstardom.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Photography by David Cabrera

Singer-sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey definitely know a thing or two about YouTube. The teenage duo, who perform under the name Chloe x Halle, started making cover videos when they were 13 and 11, respectively, and quickly gained attention for their lush harmonies and awe-inspiring vocals. Their grind paid off, as a few years later, a cover of “Pretty Hurts” caught the attention of Beyoncé herself. Now, they’re signed to Queen B’s Parkwood Entertainment label.

Following their successful EP, Sugar Symphony, the Baileys, now 18 and 16, are working on a debut album under the wing of the best musical mentor you could ask for. "Beyoncé's just been so incredible, and we're just so happy to have her on this journey," says Chloe. 

Get to know more about these talented siblings—from who they’re listening to, to their favorite apps and more—before they skyrocket to superstardom. After all, with Beyoncé in their corner, you know they’re bound to.

For our readers who aren’t familiar with your YouTube beginnings, can you tell us about how you two got your start making cover videos on YouTube?

Chloe Bailey: Yes! My sister and I have been singing since we were little girls. Our very first performance we had together—I was 7…

Halle Bailey: And I was 5.

C.B.: And it was for a talent show. We just did it for fun and surprisingly we won! So that was when everything spiraled for us and for our love for performing together. We would perform around Atlanta at these cute little functions here and there, and multiple people would tell us, "Hey, you guys should start doing covers.” At first, we didn't really take that very seriously. We would just be like, "OK, yeah, that's fine." But one day Beyoncé’s song, “Best Thing I Never Had,” inspired us do a cover. So we found the instrumental online, got our boom box, our other sister filmed us, and we did it! We asked Mom and Dad if we could upload it, they said yeah, and bam! That was the beginning! [Laughs.]

H.B.: The first 100 [video] views, we were like, "What, 100 views?!" So, we just decided to keep going with that. We did songs that we really loved and we started to grow a fan base. This one cover in particular, "Pretty Hurts" by Beyoncé, went a lot more viral than usual and we were like, "Woah, that's cool! I guess people like that one! Whatever!" Then, two weeks later, we get an email from Beyoncé's company, and they're like, "Hey, can we post this on all of B's socials, and are you guys signed?" We flipped out! Two days later, we got the call that Beyoncé wanted to sign us. It was just a whole whirlwind!


And now, I have to ask about Beyoncé. What it’s been like working on her Parkwood Entertainment label?

C.B.: Parkwood is so incredible! We love Parkwood because we have the freedom to be ourselves and make the music we want to make. And the image we want for ourselves, we get to be it. We always like to mood-board and put a bunch of references together—[create] our vision. Beyoncé is a big a believer in that because she's an artist herself and she was in the game around our age so she knows exactly how it feels.

I’ve read that you both learned how to play various instruments from watching YouTube tutorials, correct? And then, Chloe, you specialize in production, and, Halle, your go-to is the guitar?

H.B.: Well, YouTube has played such a big part in our lives. We enjoy watching covers, and we enjoy learning new things on it. It's so easy. Especially for us young people, it feels like you learn faster.

My dad randomly got me a guitar for my tenth birthday and I was like, "Thanks, I didn't ask for a guitar, but OK," but then I fell in love with it. I went on YouTube, and I started learning basic chords to my favorite songs, and then it just evolved into something really great. I still feel like I'm learning it, but I feel like I'm getting better and better every day, so yeah, YouTube was definitely a helper. [Laughs.]

C.B.: And especially with production on my end, whenever I had a question, I would just Google or YouTube it and I'd find a video on how to do it. I would just absorb it like that. I love creating, and I'm happy that I got to learn so much from this incredible resource this generation has.

Can you tell me a little more about your new album?

H.B: Yes! Right now, we are working on our debut album—we’ve only put out our EP Sugar Symphony—and we are so excited. Everything inspires us. We've been traveling—we went to Europe for The Formation Tour—and soaking up all those things and then coming home and writing. It's really magical. I can't wait for everyone to hear our stuff. I think it's gonna come out early next year, so just keep a look out! [Laughs.]

 And do you think it's going to be a lot different from Sugar Symphony?

C.B.: I think it'll be an upgrade, but Sugar Symphony was a great taste of what we're about and we have so much more to offer, so we can't wait to show that. 


Since tech is such a way of life now, what apps do you both use to keep on top of your schedules, to stay relaxed, and to stay focused?

H.B.: There's this app called Happify—it’s the best app ever. It just makes you have a whole positive outlook on everything. It's so nice.  I also love Instagram and Twitter. 

C.B.: And then for me, I have the breathing app on my Apple Watch. It'll remind you at certain times of the day to stop and breathe by vibrating when you need to inhale and exhale. That really calms me down. When it alerts me, I'm like, "OK breathe Chloe, center yourself." And then I also love this game called Two Dots. It just excites my brain and it's really fun!

H.B.: And what is that color wheel game?

C.B.: It's Color Wheel!

H.B.: It's called Color Wheel? OK. [Laughs.] So there's this game called Color Wheel, and you match this wheel to the specific colors and it's really fun.


Do you have any favorite apps for music?

C.B.: Voice Memos, of course! Whenever we have an idea or melody line we don't want to forget, we'll whip out that phone and record it immediately.

 H.B.: We love using TIDAL to find new music.

C.B.: Or if I hear any sound that I might want to sample, I'll record that on my Voice Memos so I can put it on my computer. We also use the Vocalize You app for our vocal warm-ups, and then I have this Piano Lite app on my phone as well. Whenever we wanna find the key of a song or something, I'll use that.

And finally, who are you both listening to, or what music do you have on your phones right now?

C.B.:  I've always loved tUnE-yArDs, so I've just been listening to them again more. Also, Grimes recently a lot, and we loved the new Emily Sande album—that was really good. And Portishead! The Dummy album.

H.B.: And Mild High Club. They're a band. They put out their album, Skiptracing, and it's really good.

 C.B.:  Oh, and I think I can speak for the both of us when I say we've been blasting The Weeknd's Starboy album. [Laughs.] I'm loving this new era—like, I'm really digging it.



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