Concert Spotlight Interview: Dan + Shay

Country Duo Is Obsessed With New York

Three-time nominated CMA Vocal Duo of the Year Dan + Shay have hit it big ever since 2013 when their now-platinum feel-good single “19 You + Me” broke waves. The youthful love song about Myrtle Beach, S.C. positioned Pennsylvania native Dan Smyers and Arkansas native Shay Mooney as new hit-makers on the country music scene with pop likability. Releasing second album Obsessed in June 2016, Dan + Shay will bring the feels to the Playstation Theater December 16 with a night full of hits like “Nothin’ Like You,” “Show You Off,” “From The Ground Up,” and new single “How Not To,” as well as other favorites and some familiar covers. Dan spoke with New York City Monthly about his infatuation with Central Park, Dan + Shay’s “obsession” with good coffee in NYC, and what matters most to the duo while playing during the holidays.

Having appeared on the Today show, Good Morning America, Live! with Kelly and Michael, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and many more, what was your first major New York media appearance and what was this like for you?

We did Good Morning America. I think we have played GMA three times. Something about when the cameras get on you, it’s a different energy and you gotta harness that.

There’s such a great energy when we come to New York. Once you get into the city it’s a beautiful place. Growing up in Pennsylvania I got the chance to come there a lot. Fall and Christmastime is great.

We got hired at @goodmorningamerica!

A photo posted by Dan + Shay (@danandshay) on

Your second album is called “Obsessed.” People who come to New York usually love something about it. What about New York are you and Shay obsessed with?

d_s_obsessedwithcollegetext_tee_1I’m obsessed with New York in general but there’s so much diversity, so many different cultures. We’re kind of foodies and coffee snobs. When you come to New York there’s endless options, and I’m vegan, so there’s tons of options, healthy food, everything you could want. A lot of our guys are really obsessed with ramen. Shay loves the ramen, he’s the ramen king. The coffee options are incredible too. It’s funny when we do TV it’s loading in at 4am, we’re waiting ’til 7am cause we’re too snobby and wait for the good places to open.

I also love running in Central Park. It’s such a crazy concept to have such a big running path in the middle of the city. I’ll throw a couple miles down before a show; it’s a great refresher.

The harmonies and melodies are just as catchy and inspiring as the first album. What can fans or first-time guests expect at your show coming to the Playstation Theater?

Man, I would say a ton of energy. We like to shake it up, we throw it back to the 80s a lot. It’s rare when someone can sing as well and as high as Shay can. We’ll throw in some Def Leppard or Journey, I think we throw in some Taylor Swift there if we can. There’s so much to do and so many shows, so we really like to leave it all on the stage for our fans. We’ll definitely be sweating when we get off the stage. Sometimes we get in trouble when we go over the curfew, try to squeeze in as many songs as we can and sprinkle in some covers along the way.

You were nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year by the CMAs and the ACM Awards. You both have co-written nearly every Dan + Shay song. Coming from Pennsylvania (and Shay from Arkansas), both being in relationships, do you pull a lot from your own personal lives?

It’s a very vulnerable place being in a songwriting room. The first time in the room with someone
it’s like a first date. We have learned to break down the walls no matter how dumb the song title could be. We pull inspiration from personal relationships with friends, something from a movie or book that stands out; it’s different every time we get into the room. That’s what keeps it fun and exciting. Does someone have a beat or a groove or a melody — which is fun. We like to pull from life.

“From The Ground Up” was the first single off the new record, and we’ve grown up a couple years. We’re in our late 20s now, going through different life experiences, and that song is pretty reflective of that. We like a little something for everybody.

“Road Trippin'” is one of the tracks off the new album. You will be “road trippin'” through New York City during the holiday season. How will you keep everyone’s spirit up this December with your live show, and do you have anything special planned for this time on stage or personally?

Yeah, the holidays are a great time of year. We always remember where we came from. We never forget family. Coming up through December we’ll get to take the time to go to Pennsylvania. We’re doing a couple appearances at some children’s hospitals, and we’re going to St. Jude [Children’s Research Hospital]. It all puts it into perspective, to uplift someone through the power of music, whether a Christmas song or our own song. We’re doing a few Christmas shows and we may throw in a holiday song or two.