Exclusive Interview: Rising Duo Smithfield

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Childhood friends Trey Smith and Jennifer Fielder grew up in Texas, each discovering his and her individual musical talents at young ages. However, it was when the two combined forces, merged their surnames into “Smithfield“, and united their talents that their dreams of becoming successful artists shifted into realities.

Jennifer began singing at the age of nine, performing at the Oprys all over her home state. As a child, Jennifer found herself surrounded by traditional country, while also dabbling into late nineties pop. Trey discovered his love for music by watching television with his sister, specifically the videos on VH-1, finding inspiration from bands like the Goo Goo Dolls and lead singer Johnny Rzeznik. At twelve, Trey decided to try his hand at writing and playing guitar, eventually joining a band in college and sharpening his skills before the fateful day he and Jennifer made the choice to form a duo.

Jennifer: Our parents grew up together in the same small town, so we’ve just always known each other since we were little kids, but we had never sang [sic] together until college. So, after [Trey’s] rock band broke up, he reached out to me on Facebook and he asked if I wanted to start singing with him and try it out. And, honestly, I was kind of on my own path. I had just started writing when I was in college and I knew I always wanted to go to Nashville after I graduated, but I knew he was a family friend, so I thought “crap, I can’t say no, or my family’s gonna…I’m gonna hear about it somewhere down the line.”

Trey: So, she basically did it because she felt guilty.

Jennifer: But I’m so happy that I did because, just from the first time that we sang together, I knew there was something very special there. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. We just have this really special, unique blend and we played one show together after that, and from that point on, we made our first trip to Nashville and we were on the path to where we’re at now.

The two never looked back, taking Jennifer’s traditional country and pop background and melding it with Trey’s rock band experience. With the myriad of genres serving as influences to Smithfield, it could seem somewhat puzzling as to how the duo circled for a landing in country music. But, Trey chalks his ultimate love for the format up to the talents of a particular superstar.

When I got to be around thirteen, twelve, thirteen years old, I started seeing this guy Keith Urban kind of show up on the country scene, and he kind of had this crazy country rock fusion thing that really drew me to it and started really getting me interested in it. . . . And I love the lyrics of country too and just kind of how they told a story, and that kind of drew me to it, as well, and eventually getting with Jennifer I kind of got more into it. Now, I started doing country music and it’s a beautiful thing.

Once the two Texans recognized that a future in country music was very much in reach for them, they chose the mainstream, Nashville path, as opposed to making a run at a career in the Lonestar State. Jennifer eloquently explained why the two made the decision to leave their roots for Music City.

Texas country is its own thing, and Trey and I are not that. We wanted to be commercial from the beginning. We have a more rock and pop influence, as well. . . . Even though I grew up on traditional and I love that stuff and respect it, I love what country is now too. And I love the pop influences and rock influences, so Texas just wasn’t the scene for us. We had a really hard time getting shows there, and once we started making our trips to Nashville — we made twelve trips in one year before we actually move here — and we started co-writing and networking and we really just knew, we knew before we moved here, that this was the right fit and the right place for our music and what we wanted to do.

Smithfield found the right place for its music under Bigger Picture Music Group, signing a record deal with the label before it closed its doors in 2014. When Bigger Picture shut down, Smithfield lost the music it had worked on thus far, however, it was at that moment the duo truly noticed the enormity of its fan base and the dedication of its followers.

Trey: We actually ended up fan-raising over eleven thousand dollars to make a new project that, quite frankly, was exactly what we wanted, the way we wanted it, with the songs we wanted. And it was special because it was raised by people that wanted to hear it. So, we just did that independently. We thought “it happened, we still want to release a record, and let’s just do it.”

Jennifer: Yeah, and the songs on there are, I mean some of the songs we did write when we were on that label, and what I told Trey is “going into our next record deal, no matter where we go, they’re going to make us write new songs, just from a business perspective they’re going to do that.” So, we wanted to give some of the songs that we really believed in that were going to come out on the label, we wanted to give them a fair chance to be heard, and not just throw them under the table and say “oh, well that’s what we wrote at that label so let’s forget it.” So, we really fought for those songs, and as we were raising money we really challenged ourselves to beat some of those songs we wrote so we could fully own them and have a record that was the best.

For Smithfield, the record they created consists of the best of the best for the duo — so far. The project allowed Jennifer and Trey to show that they are a “true duo”, sharing the lead vocalist responsibilities equally while delivering songs that would appeal to a fifteen-year-old looking for a fun time, as well as a seventy-year-old in need of tears in solitude.

At this point, Smithfield is promoting its single “Good Ol’ Days” and performing around the country, building an impressive resume along the way. The duo’s EP is slated for release this month, and Jennifer and Trey are using the forward momentum they currently have to really push the new music and share the songs at several shows per week. To find out where you can see Smithfield (and there are many shows lined up in the next couple of weeks), visit the duo’s website at SmithFieldMusic.com. Additionally, make sure you are also following Smithfield on Twitter and Facebook for the most up-to-date information.

Thank you to Jennifer and Trey for introducing themselves to NashvilleGab and our readers. We can’t wait to catch Smithfield at a local show and share our experience with our wonderful and loyal followers.

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