Dan + Shay’s Pop Star Friendships Give Them a New Perspective on the Country Genre
Dan + Shay are pretty sure they're the least famous people the Jonas Brothers know. The duo was flattered and excited -- and a little baffled -- when they got a last-minute text asking if they would perform their hit "Speechless" at Joe Jonas' wedding to Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. Despite the invite, the duo insists they're still small fries next to the megastar pop group.
"They texted us three or four days in advance. I feel like when we got the text, we thought it was a joke or a prank," the country duo's Dan Smyers recalls. "True enough, after the [2019 Billboard Music Awards on May 1], they were like, 'Hey, meet us here.' There was an Elvis impersonator doing the wedding. It was a whole thing. It was great."
As their fanbase grows, Dan + Shay say they're finding greater reach outside the country genre. "It's been cool to see people like [pop star] Shawn Mendes hearing our music for the first time," bandmate Shay Mooney relates. "I think "Tequila" kind of did that for us, put us into a new place where people were hearing us for the very first time.
"It's just been kind of crazy, the cool people we've gotten to meet through music," Mooney continues. "Any time we get to meet people outside the genre that are big fans of country music, that's a really cool thing. We've gotten to meet a lot of cool people through that."
That being said, Dan + Shay still feel like they're sitting at the kids' table of the Jonas' Brothers' friend group. "They don't even have our numbers saved yet," Smyers adds with a laugh. "But it is really cool to meet people in other genres, and people that are doing other things, and realize how many people truly love country music, you know?"
While the duo's peers within the format obviously know and love the style, Dan + Shay say they've been interested to hear other musicians' take on country music. They recall, "We have folks like Shawn Mendes or Demi Lovato hit us up to be like, 'I am obsessed with country music. The storytelling, the songs, the harmonies, everything.'"
As country music's boundaries expand and more cross-genre collaborations emerge, Smyers and Mooney's newly forged friendships with other musicians allow them to compare notes on different formats. Those conversations, Dan + Shay add, make them even prouder to be a part of the country music community.
"To have people from the outside looking in be like, 'Man, I wish we had something like that. I wish we had that sense of community,' it just makes us feel really glad to be here in Nashville doing what we do," Smyers notes.
Speaking of collaborations, Dan + Shay released their first major cross-genre duet on their most recent album, a song they recorded with superstar Kelly Clarkson. Do their budding friendships with musicians outside the format mean more similar team-ups on the horizon?
"I don't know, man," Mooney counters. "We're always open to being able to work with new people."
Plus, he adds, it stands to reason that if outside artists are becoming interested in the genre, they might also become interested in coming to Nashville to write songs. "We truly believe that this is where the greatest songs in the world are written," he continues. "You walk down Music Row, and the storytelling, the way people are able to put emotion inside of a song, is I think intriguing to a lot of people outside Nashville ...
"But yeah, we're definitely open to collaborations," Mooney adds. "You never know."
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