"We love Star Wars. We have two cats named after Star Wars characters – Princess Leia The Cat and Rey" Introducing at C2C: Haley & Michaels

There aren't too many husband and wife duos around these days, but we had the chance to speak to one ahead of C2C Country To Country, where Halye & Michaels bring their marital bliss to town.

Hey Shannon, Ryan, how the heck are you?

We are so great and we’re excited to be connected with you!

What have you been up to today, and where are you right now?

We are in Nashville in our home today. We did our morning drive with coffee and then got to record vocals on the new song we wrote yesterday.  

Tell us something about you that we don't know.

We love Star Wars. We have two cats named after Star Wars characters – Princess Leia The Cat and Rey. Also, Ryan wears his Jedi robe every morning for our coffee drive.

So first real question, this is your first C2C, what have you heard about it?

We have heard amazing things about C2C! We’ve heard that the crowds are magical and truly love music and getting to experience new artists which makes us very excited!

In fact, this is your first time playing in the UK, what are you looking forward to most about our fine, but rainy, country?

We are most looking forward to meeting and connecting with the people and fans of country music. Also, we are really excited to experience the culture by immersing ourselves in daily life activities like going to pubs, restaurants, and shops. And we can’t wait to have afternoon tea!

Tell us about your record, Hail Mary?

We have been working on this album since the day we met. We just didn’t know it. The first song we ever wrote together is called 'The Price I Pay' and we included it on this album. We are really proud of our first album because it includes all of the different sides of our artistry and so many of the songs are attached to amazing memories of our journey so far. We have songs that are meant to connect with people who are going through all different phases of life… break up songs, our wedding song, uplifting anthems and songs straight up about drunk texting.

You wrote, or co-wrote, all the tracks on it, what was your favourite writing experience?

We are both songwriters at our core and love the writing process so much. We wrote our wedding song 'Giving It All (To You)', just the two of us. It was intended to be our wedding vows so it was extra special writing it. It’s been the most rewarding song for us because it has taken on a life of its own and has started to become other people’s wedding song too which has been incredibly powerful for us. For the fans at C2C - let us know if you’re getting married or want to get engaged and we’ll dedicate this song to you during our set!

How do the two of you generally start songwriting? Together? Alone?

Usually one of us will start the process on our own and bring it to the other. We each get inspiration from all kinds of places. Sometimes that happens at the most random times and we never really know when it will strike. However there are times where we will just sit down together and decide to write, so it changes from song to song. 

‘Drunk Text’ is pretty modern lyrically, where did that song come from?

We wrote this song about personal experiences of auto-correct being so embarrassing! We were sitting around with some friends on St. Patrick’s Day and we started comparing drunk text stories and our co-writer actually pulled out his phone and read texts from the night before. At that point we knew we had to write it!

Your story is an interesting one, you grew up really close to each other but didn’t meet until Nashville, was that a weird moment when that came up in conversation?

Yes! We grew up exactly 3.5 miles from each other in Northern California but we did not meet until years later. When we finally met at a coffee shop called The Frothy Monkey, we found out we had so many missed connections. I used to buy my sheet music for the piano from his Grandma who worked at their family-owned music store. We frequented all of the same breakfast places, bars and sports parks. It was very fun and yet very strange to put all of the pieces together! We bonded right away over growing up in California and loving country music.

Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your view on how we get a better representation of diversity in music

It’s so important that nobody is discriminated against because of gender or any other reason. One would hope that music could transcend prejudice and have an equal shot to be heard. We think it’s paramount that this conversation is being brought to light. 

Ryan, have you witnessed Shannon being treated differently because she’s a woman?

Yes I have but that’s not by any means a blanket statement. We have had countless people both men and women support our music and support us as people. I preface this by saying that I have seen a great deal of respect for Shannon... that said I believe that the only way things change is to speak your truth and to put a spotlight on some of the old ways of the music industry and entertainment industry in general.

While the overall experience since we’ve been together has been incredible and positive, I have seen Shannon be treated differently than myself in a few different instances and some in particular that are significant and highlight the old stereotypes of women in the industry. My hope is that with this new wave of strong female artists, Shannon included, that the old stereotypical ways that women are treated and the challenges they face will begin to change and set a new standard and expectation. Also, I believe that it’s not just the women who are responsible for change and feel that it’s also, and in some ways largely, the responsibility of the men in the business to speak up and be a part of the change with our voices and our actions. 

And Shannon, what’s your experience been in what is a male-dominated genre, both behind the mic and in radio airplay?

I have had both good and bad experiences in this industry. Currently, I am so fortunate that I have an incredible team of people, many who are men, who have been very supportive and respectful of me behind the mic, creatively, and at radio. I have experienced many program directors step out and take a chance on our music even though we are new. All of this said, being in a duo with my husband makes things a little different than being a solo female artist so I can not speak to the solo female perspective in particular and I think it’s extremely important that women are speaking up about their real experiences.

Who (or what) inspires you?

We get really inspired by people who use their voice or position in their industry for doing good, for social change, and for standing up for what they believe in.

Who’s music do you listen to in your spare time?

Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Bon Jovi, Keith Urban, Garth Brooks, The Eagles, U2.

If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?

Old Dominion. They have such a killer live show and you can really feel that they have been a band together for years. They really bring the energy!

What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?

We have a unique journey because we are married and in a duo together. Lots of people ask how we manage being together 24/7. We have learned how to divide and conquer and how to trust each other’s strengths. We are doing what we love for a living so it’s easy to never “turn off” the business. That said, we’ve learned how to make a separation when it’s necessary. And if we ever get really stressed, Ryan’s great at writing jingles. He has a jingle for everything and it’s always fun to burst into song to remember not to take business or life too seriously. 

Finally, how do you take your coffee?

We love “soy mistos” which is half coffee, half steamed soy. However, in the recording studio we take our coffee black.

You can catch Shannon & Ryan playing a few sets at C2C 2020, and you can find out more about them on their website, Twitter, or Facebook.

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