Shannon Haley & Ryan Michaels, professionally known as Haley & Michaels, have set a firestorm in country music. The married duo grew up in Northern California neighboring towns, but didn’t connect until a meeting in Nashville. While not signed to a label — yet — they’ve opened for Sam Hunt, Brett Eldredge, Chris Young and Old Dominion, in the last year alone. Their debut EP racked 150,000 downloads — an impressive number for an unsigned act. I caught up with the couple to discuss their background and career so you can learn more about them.
You guys met over coffee in Nashville and are now married. You are from neighboring towns but didn’t know it as kids. What kind of impact has that had on you personally and professionally?
It’s been really cool being married to someone from the same hometown. Even though we didn’t know each other growing up, we still had a lot of parallel experiences both musically and otherwise. Musically, we both grew up listening to the same radio station, 95.3 KRTY, and went to a lot of the same venues to see the same concerts. Ryan’s family owned a music store where Ryan worked in high school. Shannon and her mom used to by sheet music there! On the personal front, there’s just an unspoken understanding that we have with one another about growing up just miles apart. Little things are fun, like knowing when you’re talking about the coffee cake at your favorite restaurant, or the popcorn at the car wash, not only does the other person know what it tastes like, but they’ve had it just as many times as you have haha. It’s also really nice to go home to visit and get to spend time with both of our families, without having to pick. Where you grow up gives you your roots, so it’s cool to have ours be so connected.
You both come from different backgrounds — Michaels from the Sunset Strip and Haley more pop, country and singer/songwriter. How did you wind up in Nashville and decide to do country?
Both of us grew up listening to country music. Shannon was in LA for the first few years of her musical journey, also influenced by pop/singer/songwriters like Sheryl Crow. Ryan was influenced by classic rock. We both have our own stories of what specifically drew us to Nashville. Shannon had a song that she put up on MySpace that went to the #1 spot in the unsigned country artists’ chart, and she started getting calls to come to Nashville. Ryan went to Belmont for college and studied music business. Both as artists and writers, we have always been rooted in country music. The most compelling thing about Nashville is it’s incredible songwriting community, which we’ve been blessed to become a part of.
Who has influenced you musically?
We have been influenced by artists from all different genres. When we first met, we spent a big part of the time talking about all of our favorite Garth Brooks songs. Ryan grew up listening to everything from Guns’ N Roses and Dan Seals to Dr. Dre and moody musical theatre like Les Mis. Shannon listened to everything from Sheryl Crow and Frank Sinatra to The Dixie Chicks, Bob Dylan and The Beatles…and some Backstreet Boys (haha, admitting it…).
Your music is described as “country music delivered with a certain amount of power pop.” Can you elaborate?
Whenever we write and sing together, we try to stay open to whatever organically comes into our music. It’s part of what helps us be able to grow as artists. While country music is where our hearts are at, we do feel like other influences find their way into our sound and songs naturally.
Your new single “The Price I Pay” is a sad breakup song. It even won Song of the Year honors from the Nashville Independent Music Awards. What’s that like to perform as a married couple? Did you have to channel your pet peeves of each other to write?
“The Price I Pay” is a special song to us because it’s actually the fist song we ever wrote together and is largely responsible for us becoming a duo. For the most part, when we write music, we don’t approach it as a married couple, we approach it as two artists who love to write songs about everything in life, and who love making music together. So we are open to all kinds of songs. We actually prefer singing songs with some angst and heartache to the happy love songs.
You scored an impressive number of digital downloads — 150,000 to be exact — from your first EP, Haley and Michaels. What did that feel like and do you feel the pressure to keep those numbers high?
Thank you! We are really grateful that our first EP had that type of response. We try not to focus on numbers too much, but more on trying to always be growing as artists creatively. It is important to us that we are always raising the bar, reaching higher, and keeping our focus on the music. We’ve been in the studio working on our new music with some incredible producers Reid Shippen and Zach Abend. We can’t wait to share our new project with everyone!
Where can fans find your music?
Fans can check out our latest music on Spotify, iTunes or visit us at facebook.com/haleyandmichaels.
Can they catch you on tour this summer?
Absolutely! We are in the process of booking summer and fall tour dates and will keep you posted on our socials and our website!
Thank you so much for having us!
– Shannon and Ryan (Haley & Michaels)