Two native Texans – Trey Smith and Jennifer Fielder – make up Smithfield, country music’s hottest rising duo; a pair with an intriguing connection.
Smithfield’s new single “Our World” is the follow-up to their critically acclaimed single “Hey Whiskey.” That song caught the ear of not only Sirius XM and CMT, but also put the duo on several “Artists To Watch” lists, including People, Billboard, Huffington Post and Rolling Stone.
“Our World,” the debut single from their just released We Make Our Own EP, highlights the vocal chemistry between these longtime childhood friends – in fact, their families have known each other for three generations, going back to when their grandparents went to high school together.
We were able to catch up with Smith and Fielder recently, to get an update on their new music, what makes the duo click, and … Buc-ee’s?!?
What are the benefits to being a duo… and what are the challenges?
As far as the benefits go, there’s always another person going through the same thing you are at every point, and it’s nice to know that you have someone there who has your back through the tough times. You get to write and perform unique stories that solo artist can’t, especially the female/male duo dynamic. You share the spotlight, so the attention and pressure is not all on you. Sharing responsibilities and keeping each other accountable to achieve a goal… and, of course, harmonies!
In terms of challenges, well, you’re still dealing with two people who will not always have the same opinion on things. So it takes work and effort to constantly communicate and make decisions together. Our dynamic is unique, so it makes it a little harder to figure out our sound and branding. We don’t always 100% agree on every decision, so sometimes we have to compromise on what the other person may want and feel is best. We’d also say that writing is harder with two people because you have to figure out things like: What key works best for both? Who’s gonna sing what part? One doesn’t like a particular lyric, but the other does… It’s a constant thing we have to work on.
Talk about your song “Our World” – what was the inspiration?
“Our World” reminded us of our time growing up. Our families for three generations all grew up in Waxahachie, Texas, which is where we met as kids. We both remember thinking at that time in our lives how we felt like we were the only two people in the world and everyone else was just living in it. It gave us the feeling of being young and invincible. The song is also a true duet that showcases both of us on lead vocals, as well our special blend of harmony.
Describe your new EP, “We Make Our Own,” in three words – and you each get your own three words!
Smith: Harmony, fun, real
Fielder: Energetic, empowering, relatable
Any particular rituals or habits you have when writing music?
Coffee is an absolute essential before and during the process! We also love to have what we call “Coffee Talk” before we go to a co-write. We take an hour to sip coffee and we talk about life, ideas, titles, lyrics etc. Our songs are snapshots of our real lives and experiences.
What are your favorite places to perform in Texas?
The Texas music scene is truly like no other. What makes this state such a vital, unique incubator for music?
Fielder: Since the age of 9 I’ve been on a stage in Texas. I played almost every small town opry you can think of, as well as being a regular on the ‘Johnnie High’s Country Music Review’ in Arlington. I grew up watching that show, actually, knowing that Leann Rimes and so many other great artists had graced that stage. So when I was old enough to audition there, I made the show, and began to develop my love for country music, and to develop as a performer. I played there on and off until we formed Smithfield and moved to Nashville. I’m so thankful Texas had so many places for me to perform and grow as an artist.
Smith: What I love about Texas is that there are multiple music genres that you can pursue; in fact, my story is quite the opposite of Jenn’s. I formed a rock band in Fort Worth and played all over the DFW area for five years before we became Smithfield. That helped me develop as a songwriter, because I was the lead singer of the band and had to write all of the music that we performed. I believe the combination of our different backgrounds, influences, and sounds is what makes us so special. I think we both look at our time in the Texas music scene and know it was essential in our development as artists.
You currently live in Nashville. What do you miss most about being away from Texas?
Tex-Mex, Buc-ee’s, Whataburger and our families!
Cover photo courtesy Smithfield