Appreciating The Victories: Smithfield Shares The 5 Things They’ve Learned In Their Music Careers
I recently had the pleasure of sitting of interviewing Smithfield, a rising duo in the country music genre. Both from musical families in Texas, they’re now getting ready to release a brand new EP. Earlier this week, I was able to sit down with Smithfield in Nashville and hear about their experiences in the music industry.
What is your backstory?
TREY: We grew up in musical families, and have known each other almost our whole lives. Our families are both from Waxahachie, TX, and have known each other for 3 generations, so we go way back. In college, my rock band had just broken up, and Jennifer was singing on all kinds of Texas Opry’s, when my cousin suggested we try singing together one day at lunch. I reached out via facebook, and got together to try it out one day at Jenn’s college apartment. At the risk of sounding cliche, it just felt very natural and “meant to be” from the very first words we sang together. So after we had an opportunity to travel to Nashville to and perform together in 2011, we made the commitment to be a duo, and started making trips to Nashville every month for a year until we moved in 2012.
What’s the funniest or most interesting story that has happened to you thus far in your music career?
TREY: I would have to say one of the most interesting things that’s happened in our career thus far would be the way we ended up in Nashville. Like I said, we had both gone to Nashville to compete in the contest Jenn made in 2011. Before we went, she had a new roommate moving in, and she walked in with a box in hand one day while we were practicing in the living room. After we told her we were going to Nashville in a few weeks, she told us she had a cousin that worked in the music industry in Nashville, and that we should meet him while we were there. So we connected via email, and went to meet him while we were in town, and he turned out to be a booking agent at WME. That day, he encouraged us to move to town and pursue a career as country music artists, and fast forward to now, and he is our booking agent. Crazy!
What are some of the most exciting projects you’re currently working on?
JENN: We’re currently starting some pre production meetings for our next EP that we will hopefully release this summer. So excited to share some new music!
Who are the most famous people you’ve interacted with? What was that like?
TREY: I ran in to Keith Urban one morning at breakfast. We talked for a minute and he seemed like such a cool, down to earth guy. Definitely someone I admire a ton.
JENN: We got to talk to Steven Tyler at the Opry one night. Such a cool guy with such an inspirational appreciation for music.
Who inspires you? (Can be musical or just general historic figure)
TREY: Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls inspires me a lot creatively. His way of crafting a song really is what got me in to writing in the first place.
JENN: I would have to say Granger Smith. We have been touring with him and all went to lunch one day. The similarities between his story and career, and ours was truly inspiring and motivating. Also, my daddy. He suffered a cardiac arrest almost 2 years ago, and was not expected to survive, and even when he did, was expected to be a vegetable. Happy to report he is moving and talking and living life. Strongest person I know, and truly inspiring to watch his journey. So proud of him!
Who do you aspire to be like?
TREY: In many ways, I aspire to be like my dad. I know that seems like a generic answer, but he’s always been such an example to me of kindness, strength, and moral character.
JENN: I of course aspire to be the kind of person my dad is as well. Best person I know. I wouldn’t mind having Carrie Underwood’s legs either though. Hah!
How have you used your success to bring goodness into the world?
TREY: I think music can be used as a tool for awareness and change, as well as joy and therapy. Our song Hey Whiskey has connected with so many people who have similar stories. Even if that message can bring just the smallest amount of comfort to someone, that’s goodness to us. We also love contributing our talents to great causes whenever possible in an effort to give back.
What are 5 things you wish someone had told you when you first started, and why? Please provide an example/story for each.
1.) Appreciate the victories. Large and small. I think it’s so easy to overlook the moment when you immediately shift your focus to the next goal, the next horizon. Life is about enjoying the moments, and that can be hard sometimes in this industry.
2.) If you truly believe in a song, fight for it. Our single, “Hey Whiskey,” was shot down by our former label head. We were told it would never work on country radio, and that no one would ever get it. So we gave up on it for almost 2 years, even though we loved it!!
3.) Connect with your audience, one person at a time. It’s easy to get out on stage and try to shift your focus from person to person to person. But it’s more about finding that one person in the crowd that is just completely engaged in you and your performance, and making a connection with them. Then find someone else and do the same thing. Music is about connection after all.
4.) Keep your blinders on. In an industry of so many “horses” racing for the same finish line, it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s so important to keep your focus straight ahead, and not on everyone else. It can mess with you if you don’t, and we have definitely had those days.
5.) Write what you know, but be open to what you don’t. When we first started co-writing with people in Nashville, there was a learning curve. When someone tells you they don’t like your idea, or try to do something different with a lyric you throw out, it’s easy to get prideful and frustrated because it’s “your line”. Learning to be open to other ideas that your cowriters may have and look at it from a more outside and collaborative standpoint often times gets you out of your own way in the writing room.
Who would you want to share a meal with? Why?
TREY: I would absolutely love to have a meal with my grandpa. He died in a plane crash when my dad was only 17, so I never got the opportunity to know him. I’ve heard stories about him all my life though, and would love to have the chance to get to know him and who he was.
JENN: Oooo, I think a meal with Jimmy Fallon would be so cool! I watch his show almost every night, and he always makes me laugh. I think he would make for some very interesting and funny conversations.