Music musings with Bailey Pickles and Hugo Hui

Catch Bailey and Hugo performing live at the Alumni Festival on 2 December.
We chat to Bailey Pickles and Hugo Hui from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music about friendship, making music, and why the inaugural Alumni Festival should be on every student's calendar.

Bailey Pickles and Hugo Hui are both second-year students at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Outside of their studies, they’re well-known musicians, and have amassed a large following across their respective social media platforms. Bailey and Hugo will be performing at the inaugural Alumni Festival, held on Saturday 2 December at the University of Sydney.

The Alumni Festival is a festival for alumni, students, family, friends, and wider community to experience the magic of our campus as they've never seen it before. From pop-up musical performances to hands-on research and a curated Manning Bar program featuring comedian Jordan Raskopolous, Youth Group and Art vs Science, there’s something for everyone.

We spoke to Bailey and Hugo to learn what music inspires them, how they first started collaborating, and what excites them most about performing at the Alumni Festival in December.

Hugo Hui playing violin at Encore, City Recital Hall in 2022.

How did the two of you meet? Do you remember the day?  

Bailey: I went to watch Hugo play at the Opera House for Year 12 Encore. He was brilliant. The best performance, according to the friends I brought with me. I went up to him after the show and introduced myself.  

Hugo: Oh man, I remember as if it was yesterday! I met Bailey was when he came to watch me perform at HSC Encore and we briefly spoke after the concert. But the first proper time we met was at the Conservatorium of Music. We messaged online beforehand and agreed to go jam after class together, and that’s when everything just clicked. I still have a video of the moment we both started playing and realised, wow, it's like we’re jamming with ourselves. I remember being absolutely overjoyed that I had found someone who I could learn so much from.

Name a song to describe your friendship. 

Bailey: The Nights by Avicii. That’s the first video we did together that went viral. We are yet to beat it! The guy that wrote the song, Nick Furlong, sent us a message saying he loved the video, which was so cool.

Hugo:  I’m not sure if the song lyrically describes it, but I agree The Nights by Avicii is an iconic song that lives at the centre of our friendship. Many experiences in our journey over the past year can be attributed to our recording of that song online, which reached around 30 million people.

What inspired you to start making music?

Bailey: I was always surrounded by music. My grandma and grandpa are a big reason for that. They used to get my brother and I to put on our own concerts after dinner. I also used to hum in my cot. Mum and grandma saw this and put me into piano lessons when I was four. I tried out for the Sydney Conservatorium Rising Stars Program when I was ten and I got in! It must have been a bit of luck I think. My technique was shocking, really, really bad! But I played one of my original songs, so they must have been impressed by that.

Hugo: I started both violin and piano around the age of four. Nowadays, that’s not so early! My family almost immediately discovered that I could play by ear as I would come home after church, hop onto the piano and play out melodies I had heard earlier that day. I’d say at that time my biggest musical influence was my uncle, who mirrored my musical characteristics. As a pianist who was able to expertly play by ear, so I learned most of my tips and tricks from him. 

How would you describe your musical style and vibe?  

Bailey: Coldplay and Jacob Collier all in one. At least that’s what it sounds like to me. My answer will most likely have changed by next year.

Hugo: Despite my classical background in music, I would describe my style as somewhere between jazz and pop. I'm obssessed with jazz harmonies and improvisation as well as the euphoria that pop music creates. Sharing music with other people brings me the most joy.

Bailey Pickles. Image credit: Jess Gleeson

Favourite thing about collaborating and playing together?  

Bailey: It gives both of us so much joy. Hugo is one of the best violinists I’ve ever heard with one of the fastest ears. Our videos are mostly about us playing popular songs for the first time so we both need to have fast ears to keep up. 

Hugo: The musicians will understand me on this one, but I can only describe the best moment as when somewhen plays a spicy chord or a cool run which leads to a collective gasp of exhilaration, if that makes any sense!

What is trending on your social media accounts? 

Bailey: Our biggest videos are the videos where we play songs on the spot without having played them before. There is something about that concept that people are attracted to. We try not to get too bogged down in getting massive views every time though. That can’t be healthy. 

Hugo: I think the most rewarding thing is just altering the common view of classical instruments from something plain and boring to something exciting and new. People don’t usually think of violin or cello as “cool” which is fine, but as a result, they don’t get to experience the intricacies of classical instruments, which is a shame. So, social media has played a positive impact in bringing that to light.

You’re playing at the Alumni Festival, what are you most excited about?  

Bailey: Playing at the Alumni Festival is such a great opportunity for me as I don’t often get the chance to perform my songs live. I’m most looking forward to interacting with the audience and taking requests from them. There is a chance Hugo might join me on stage as well so don’t miss that! 

Hugo: I’m most excited to be integrated into the University culture, meeting a huge community of people who will form the web of networks around me as I learn their different walks of life. It’s intriguing how I do music, and some alumni may do medicine, engineering, some might start their own businesses, but at one point they were here just as I am, and I can learn so much from that.

What’s next for you both?

Bailey: I’m currently releasing songs, playing shows and working on developing a stronger Spotify following. We will both be writing songs, collaborating with others and continuing to create videos that will hopefully inspire other people.

Hugo: A bunch of new songs I’ve written are going on Spotify soon. Jumping in the studio with established artists is always a real privilege for me – coming up in December is the release of Grent Perez’s song that I did the strings on which will be a huge hit! And of course, I have a lot of weddings lined up for next year as well.

Make sure to keep up with Bailey and Hugo’s musical journey by following @bailey_pickles_music and @hugo_hui_ on Instagram, and don’t forget to register to see them live at the Alumni Festival on 2 December.

30 October 2023

Related articles