Country charm and fated romance, tangled in music sheets and coffee talks: husband and wife duo Haley & Michaels recently released their single ‘Hail Mary’ in the UK. I caught them for a quick telephone interview where we talked about how they met, pregnancy and lockdown, and their love for country music.
If you’re making music, you have to love it.Ryan Michaels
As with many great love stories, Shannon Haley and Ryan Michaels’ journey begin with missed chances. Both growing up in California, literally “just right down the street from each other,” the two never crossed paths until 2011. Shannon laughs as she thinks of them having “just missed each other” all their lives. Ryan on the other hand vividly remembers specific details of their first meeting; Shannon’s smile and thoughts of wanting to make music with her right then and there. “I was already planning our wedding and I was planning to be in a band with her,” he fondly recalls. “Now, she didn’t know all this right away but when I told her, it kind of freaked her out.”
Introduced by friends at a fated coffee shop in Nashville, Tennessee, they bond over their love for country music. Shannon and Ryan both find themselves drawn to the lyrics, their songwriting heavily rooted in the genre. To Shannon, the songs are an outlet for the many different experiences people go through. To Ryan, who has a rock ‘n’ roll background, it’s the versatility it offers. “The country format is so broad and accepting,” he explains. “When you listen to the radio, you don’t hear a lot of electric guitars and big arena music anymore. Country is the format for me that really embraces that.”
Haley & Michaels began as individual solo artists. Their musical journey isn’t particularly unique to themselves—in general, the music business is tough. “If you’re in the music business, if you’re making music, you have to love it and you can’t be attached to the outcome,” Ryan remarks. Their transition into a duo has made the music-making process easier for both of them.
It was certainly an extra benefit to both of us to have someone to go through it with; it’s a lot less lonely.Ryan Michaels
Before they ventured into writing and singing together, they would spend hours every day coming up with vocal arrangements for cover songs. When they finally got to writing their first song together, that’s when they knew that they wanted to become a duo. Ryan asked Shannon to sing with him for a performance at the Roxy back in 2012. Since then, their career has blossomed alongside their relationship. They signed with Sony/ATV in 2018.
Their recent success sees two single releases in the UK, ‘Drinking About You’ and ‘Hail Mary’. The latter song features in the Netflix biopic Walk. Ride. Rodeo. The film stars Spencer Locke, Missi Pyle and Corbin Bleu, and tells the story of rodeo barrel racer, Amberley Snyder. ‘Hail Mary’ features in both the film’s trailer and soundtrack, and is an arena anthem with the spirit of ‘We Are The Champions’ and ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’. Written alongside Nolan Sipe, Brian Howes and JVP, ‘Hail Mary’ was finished before the duo even knew of Amberley’s story. Although not written specifically for the film, both Haley & Michaels and Amberley found synergy in the song’s message.
“I think that’s one of the coolest things is the way that music can take on different meanings for different people,” Shannon said. “This is no exception. And it was just so inspiring for us, and such an honour that this song that we wrote about our struggles ended up sitting for Amberley and what she has overcome.”
Nowadays, the pandemic remains a prevalent threat, but that doesn’t stop Haley & Michaels from moving forward. Expanding their family with Shannon’s pregnancy, they have also expanded their network in music. The duo made plenty of friends in the UK and hope to work with them on upcoming projects. Keeping themselves busy, they continue to write songs, work on cover music and livestream concerts for their fans. Among other things, they have also found small simple joys in quarantine life. “We have this really great creek pathway by our house and so we’ve been walking in the morning and evening,” Shannon said. “Also, I guess just kind of planning for the baby’s arrival. We’ve had this extra time that has been a real gift because we got to clean out closets that haven’t been cleaned for years.”
Haley & Michaels are happy to let new and longtime fans know that they can expect more content from the duo. They recently released a behind the scenes look of their music video for ‘Hail Mary’, which you can watch below.
Interview conducted by Mae Trumata
Photos by Lime Tree Music