By Annie Reuter
Though they’re currently among the hottest newcomers in country music, only two years ago Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney were complete strangers, both of them musicians struggling to find their place in Nashville. Shay had taken the solo route, while Dan played in several bands. Everything changed, though, during a chance meeting in, of all places, a tent.
“We met at a party randomly,” Shay told Radio.com. “I met Dan and four of my best friends that night. We were jamming until 3, 4 in the morning, and the next day we wrote together.”
And during that party, Shay first stumbled into Dan in a rather unusual place.
“A funny story of when we met, it was in a tent, because my house was very humble,” Dan explained. “There was no heat there and no locks on the doors. I had gone to the thrift store and spent $6 got a bunch of sheets and made this circus tent situation around the TV. We’re all huddled around and Shay walked in.”
“I was like, ‘What am I getting myself into right now?'” Shay interjected.
Both agreed that things “just clicked” during their first songwriting session the next day. In fact, the very first song they wrote together got placed on hold by another artist, and the two instantly knew they had something special.
More recently, Rascal Flatts put two of Dan + Shay’s songs on hold for their forthcoming release, Rewind.
Things happened pretty fast for the duo after that. They met and wrote two or three songs a day, then they started getting publishing offers, and finally they earned a record deal with Warner Music Nashville. The label released their debut single, “19 You + Me,” only months after they were signed. Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Psy) signed on to manage the duo shortly after.
“We’re waiting for someone to wake us up and pinch us,” Dan said, a sentiment he and Shay both shared several times throughout their interview.
The duo’s fairytale keeps getting better, as they’ve also been nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year at next weekend’s ACM Awards, just a few days after their debut album drops.
A testament to their hard work, the two artists hold a positive outlook and persistent work ethic looking back on the struggles they’ve face as musicians.
“Sometimes you’ve gotta take a chance, throw all your stuff in the back of the car and move there and live out of a suitcase for a while or live in a tent,” Dan said. “But if you’re really passionate and believe in what you’re doing, it’ll pay off in the end.”
And for Dan + Shay, things are paying off. Their debut single, “19 You + Me” made them the most added duo in the history of the modern charts. It also became the fastest song to reach the Top 20 for a duo on a debut single.
“You have to want it so badly that you’ll do absolutely anything,” Shay said. You’ll be living in a cardboard box if you have to. There’s thousands of people in Nashville, and if you’re not willing to do whatever it takes and go that extra mile and learn and know that you can always learn something from anybody else. You need to be open and do whatever it takes.”
Where It All Began then hits stores on April 1.
01. “Show You Off”
02. “Stop Drop + Roll”
03. “19 You + Me”
04. “What You Do to Me”
05. “Can’t Say No”
06. “First Time Feeling”
07. “Nothin’ Like You”
08. “Somewhere Only We Know”
09. “Parking Brake”
10. “I Heard Goodbye”
11. “Party Girl”
12. “Close Your Eyes”