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Up Close With The YouTube Sensations

UrbanWire chats with Madilyn Bailey, Tanner Patrick, The Sam Willows, and Zendee Rose Tenefere who were part of Under The Stars: The YouTube Sensations.

Madilyn Bailey

Tanner Patrick

The Sam Willows

Zendee Rose Tenerefe

Madilyn Bailey

A 20-year-old from Wisconsin, Madilyn Bailey has over 19 million views on her cover of David Guetta’s “Titanium”, plus many other videos hitting over a million views. The amount of support she gets still overwhelms “Maddy”, as she prefers to be called.

“It’s still a little bit strange because I come from a small town of about 1,000 people, and so to be a YouTube sensation all over the world is kind of mind-blowing, but I worked really hard at it and I’m really proud of it,” Maddy admitted.

Just out of her teens herself, she’s had her daily dose of proposals from pre-pubescent teenagers. Initially, her answer to these was for them to ask her father for her hand. That changed when “one fan actually was brave enough to email my dad about marrying me”.

With such sweet vocals, she must have been in her school choir, you think. Instead, this petite blonde was actually a cheerleader back in high school, while participating in Science Olympiads at the same time.

The sparkly garb-donning young adult has the next 2 years of her life planned out. Currently working on her second original album (her debut being EP Bad Habit released in 2013) she hopes to finish writing, recording and confirming a release date in the next year and a half.

The singer-songwriter revealed that she learnt how to play the guitar watching her father play while she was young. Laughing at the memory, she also said her songwriting lessons from her father started at a tender age of 6.

Maddy, who admits to having a soft spot for any food that’s sweet and delicious, also has an unexpected weakness for rapper Eminem. “We’d make a cool track together,” she said, thinking aloud before elaborating, “I do sing a couple of Eminem songs [on YouTube] where I just put melody to the rap lyrics and then kind of like, sing-rap it.”

Tanner Patrick


This 22-year-old Texan endeared himself to us by revealing the name of his upcoming LP exclusively to UrbanWire. You heard it here to look out for The Waiting Home, coming out in the fall (September to December).

We also love that he’s a perfectionist and self-taught video editor who admits to spending an inordinate amount of time on post-production. “If I start getting really picky, it can take 5 days of editing just the video, or 2 weeks of editing just the audio. It’s really miserable sometimes.”

His first cover of Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks”, took 4 days of editing. “I stared at it all day every day for 4 days, trying to change it.” The 4 presumably painful days paid off though, the video now boasts a viewership of over 9 million.

With over 98,000 followers and 345,000 subscribers on twitter and YouTube respectively after only 2 years on YouTube, he basically is a veteran in performances, playing his music at music festivals of all genres – even metal.

Of course, this fame begets interesting fan experiences, most of which involve lips on his body at awkward times. He remembered a girl getting escorted out of the venue after she crowd surfed to the front, climbed onto the stage and attached herself on his back, while he was performing! “She started kissing my neck and stuff, and she was like kissing my ear and my neck and I just kept singing,” he recalled, as a tinge of pink slowly formed on his cheeks.

Another fan, at another show, decided to use quite an unorthodox method to say hello to Tanner. Walking up to him at his merchandise table, she decided to attach her lips to his, in public. “I just stood there with my eyes open and looked at everyone. It was really weird and I’ve never seen her before. And then she said good night, and winked and walked away,” he said, running his fingers through his hair – a habit he has whenever he gets uncomfortable.

Tanner read one of his own fan fiction stories “a couple of years back”.  The piece had him giving birth to a child in the end. “It was really weird. That was the only one that I read and it was interesting, I was kind of scared to read anything else after that.”

Interesting fan experiences aside, the Texan cites Dashboard Confessional as his main inspiration, with lead singer Chris Carrabba being the reason why he started playing the guitar, which eventually resulted in him being the musician he is today.

With over 20 covers and 5 original songs on YouTube, the singer-songwriter, who admits to having all 3 High School Musicalsequels’ soundtracks in his playlist, is now in the process of recording his LP, to be released in the fall (September to December).

“It’s going to blow your mind,” he elaborated. “Well, I haven’t described it much lately, only because I’m not exactly sure how because it is a little different than the covers I put out. It takes more of my rock band roots, it has a lot of dynamics, it gets sweet and soft and acoustic but then it gets like pretty heavy… There are a lot of passionate screams on it.”

“It gets intense,” he concluded. One of his released singles, that he remains coy about, will be on the album as well, after re-recording.

The Sam Willows


Imagine meeting a fan who shares the same name as your band.

That was what happened to The Sam Willows, one of the few Singaporean bands to have the opportunity to perform overseas.

Returning from their trip to North America and Canada for their tour, as well as being one of the acts in the South by Southwest (SXSW) and Canadian Music Festival, the band has one amusing story to tell.

Reminiscing, Jon Chua elaborated about that experience at the Canadian Music Festival. After their show at the festival, a teenager walked up to Jon to thank him for the performance. After Jon introduced himself, the teenager reciprocated.

“Hi, my name is Sam Willows.”

Funnily enough, Jon had taken notice of the teenager during the set.

“During the show we saw this Caucasian guy in the crowd [and] he knew the lyrics to all our songs, it was quite crazy, like wow, all the way from Canada. Like wow, there are people here who actually knew every single word to all our songs,” Jon elaborated.

That, the quartet decided, was the highlight of their trip.

Not a fan of constants, the band hardly ever plays their music the same way twice. Instead of slavishly reproducing the music they’ve recorded on their EP, the band enjoys tailoring it to different venues and events. Take their set at the Under The Stars concert as an example, drastically changing the arrangement and tempo of their music, the originally relaxing music morphed into something much more energetic, hyping up the crowd.

With a remade version of their song, “Glasshouse” coming out soon along with a music video, it’s more than apparent that the quartet will not settle for constants.

“That’s the thing that makes music awesome, it’s never finished, in that sense,” Narelle Kheng explains.

The quartet had “Glasshouse” mixed by Steve Lilywhite, music producer for renowned acts like U2 and Jason Mraz. Remaining grateful for that experience and Lilywhite’s ability to bring the best out of each of them arrangement-wise, they admitted to being a touch intimidated initially. However, “the more you get to know him, the more you realise he’s the most chill guy,” Narelle said.

“We’re very excited for the release coming out soon,” Jon said, pausing dramatically before emphasising on the word, “soon” (quite possibly in July).

Zendee Rose Tenerefe


Filipina Zendee Tenerefe gained international attention after a stranger shot a video of her belting out to “And I Am Telling You” by Jennifer Hudson and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and uploaded them on YouTube – and it went viral.

“At first I was just checking on my Facebook and my newsfeed. And I saw that girl in the bagpack, I thought this is camp (because of the way she was dressed) because… I don’t know that it’s me,” she tells UrbanWire, thinking that it was some other girl in a mall.

After finding out that the video of her was going viral, she remembered being excited to the point of insomnia. It drove her to hit “Refresh, refresh, refresh, and look at comments. And they said that, ‘Ohhh that videographer is her friend’s boyfriend’ Whoa I don’t know that person!” She exclaimed, energetically miming her scrolling through the comments with a mouse.

But what launched her into the stratosphere was catching the eye of possibly the funniest woman in America, talkshow personality Ellen DeGeneres, who invited her twice to appear on the show. She remembered being suspicious of her first email from the Ellen team, and asking about how she was going to get to the US. The second email came after she signed on to Warner Music Philippines, which helped link her with the Ellen team.

The rest is history, and she remains extremely grateful for the opportunity. Still clearly overwhelmed by that event in October 2012, she said it was, “A dream come true.”

Her appearance on Ellen also paved the way for her to meet and perform with one of her biggest idols – Jason Mraz. Mraz’s manager was at the show, and decided that she should be the opening act for his concert in the Philippines.

Though that happened just over a month earlier, she retold her experience with much zest, gesturing wildly and squealing whenever words failed her. “He signed my guitar!” she exclaimed. “It was like heaven!”

Meeting the 36-year-old American for the first time, she said, “I was panicking. It’s like fangirl like ‘Zendee calm down, you’re an artiste, you’re a professional.’ But deep inside I wanted to scream,” she gushed, “but he’s so kind and he’s so nice.”



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