A gentle smile plays around his lips as he brushes one of his wild ginger curls from his forehead. Michael Schulte is who we are talking about here: a young musician from Flensburg, Germany, who started out as a YouTube phenomenon and now presents his new record, “Wide Awake“.

At first in the Schulte family home, there was nothing pointing towards a great dormant musical talent there. “My dad used to play the guitar a little bit,” Michael Schulte recalls, “and he sang along. From time to time. But that was it.” So, how come little Michael used to rampage around the house singing loudly from a very young age? “There must have been something inside of me that was seeking to express itself through singing, even back then,” Michael Schulte muses. Even at the time, though, he was drawn to the quieter tones, shying away from noise, despite all its wildness. He copied the few guitar chords his father knew, learned a few more in some guitar lessons and soon started accompanying himself on the guitar. “It wasn’t much, but I enjoyed it immensely. I just sort of stumbled upon it,” Michael Schulte laughs. However, before he could really get started, it was already over again: His voice broke. Finished. The end. Football became his next big thing, and he went straight to a regional selection team. However, this passion burned hot and fast. “I quickly realized that there was something else sleeping in me,” says Michael Schulte, “without even being able to name it. But there was something there.” He did what so many teenagers do: Michael Schulte discovered the World Wide Web. Browsing first here a little, then there a little. Ending up on YouTube. “I was just clicking around there and found a video by the Dutch singer Esmée Denters, where she’s singing ‘Tears In Heaven’ by Eric Clapton,” Michael Schulte recalls. “Mostly, I was impressed by just how many people had watched it.” Again and again, he checked in on YouTube and watched Esmée Denters’s number of clicks rocket upwards. Weekly. Daily. Hourly.

The more often Michael Schulte gave in to his desire to go to YouTube, the greater his wish to start singing again became. “But singing in and of itself wasn’t enough for me anymore,” he quickly realized. “I wanted to experience what the world would think if I uploaded a video to YouTube, as well.” The question kept nagging him, until in the end he bought himself a cheap web cam and an even cheaper headset, installed everything on his computer and just got going – full of beans, but without any sort of plan. “I also sang ‘Tears In Heaven’, recorded it and uploaded it immediately. Then I stopped for a second and turned off the computer. Otherwise, the suspense would have killed me,” he adds. This was in 2008. However, keep in mind that Michael Schulte was never a loud or noisy child, so his ‘Tears In Heaven’ goes way beyond a mere cover version of the song. He has invested all of himself in it. And he sings it in a voice that has the power to melt icebergs and make grown men cry. Also, a voice that thrills girls to the bone. Nothing artificial about it. Nothing calculated. Michael Schulte sings. And that’s enough! There’s nothing else he needs to do. Just sing! Of course, the computer didn’t stay off for a long time. That would have been unbearable for Michael Schulte. So, let’s turn it back on. What happened? “I had gone from zero to several thousand views, many comments and people messaging me, telling me that they love what I do. That they enjoy my voice and my singing style,” says Michael Schulte, and you can still hear the surprise in his voice and see his eyes sparkle. He started adding a new video each week. He still does to this day, by the way. His videos are stripped back, almost pure: guitar and voice only. Still, they explode with power. Emotion. Closeness. No vanity. And the redhead is having fun – you can tell. Without even trying, he quickly amassed several millions of clicks, and the number of subscribers to his YouTube channel would make every newspaper editor go green with envy. An d the fan base just keeps growing.

His improvised YouTube studio at home is a safe haven for Michael Schulte. Here, he has moored himself. Despite the openness he displays on screen and the distancing effect of the internet between himself and those who admire him. “I did not have to go out when everyone could just come into my harbor, dock there and watch,” Michael Schulte reflects. “I never had a plan how to leave the harbor, to weigh anchor, to prove myself on the rough high seas. Deep inside, I was a shy person, insecure even.” What he needed was a pilot. And as it happens, one was already waiting in the wings: Rea Garvey, a YouTube addict himself, had discovered Michael Schulte long ago. He called him up and asked him if Michael would like to perform with him during the Kieler Woche festival. Michael Schulte didn’t hesitate for even a second. “I couldn’t have imagined a more emotional situation than being on stage with Rea Garvey,” Michael disperses all sense of doubt. “Especially since so many of his songs mean so much to me. He embraced me immediately.” The performance catapulted Michael Schulte out of his comfort zone, dragged him away from the web cam at home. Into the spotlight. Into the cold waters of show business.

Once he jumped into showbiz at the deep end, Michael Schulte’s career took off even more impressively. His first CD was only distributed online, but now he presents “Wide Awake“, his first ‘real’ album. “I’ve never played as much music as I do now. And I don’t even have to bend over to do it,” he says. “I’m myself and that’s who I’ll stay. I won’ compromise.” And that is exactly why all of his songs carry the same incomparable, bubbling freshness. The guitar is still there. Maybe with an additional hint of virtuosity. The voice is the same. Michael Schulte still sings, less from the head, but with the full power of his emotions, straight from the gut. His music makes you warm inside. Just as he lets his fans into his life, his life enters into his songs. Giving insights, that’s his creed. His songs are a dialogue, with himself, but also with the listeners. If a song needs grandeur, Michael Schulte injects it with grandeur. And if it needs only six strings and a voice for best effect, Michael Schulte won’t add anything else. “I would like to do what I’ve done here for the rest of my life,” Michael Schulte says looking back at the songs on his new album. And chances are, he will!