The JaneDear Girls, Danelle and Susie, originally hail from Texas and Utah. Their 2010 debut album, The JaneDear Girls, was produced by John Rich and yielded the country radio hits “Wildflower” and “Shotgun Girl.” We caught up the Girls to discuss how they met, writing together, and striking it big in Music City.
Take us through the arc of your career. How did you go from aspiring musicians to Warner Bros. recording artists?
Susie: I moved to Nashville about seven years ago and got my first gig playing for a local singer-songwriter. Danelle happened to be at one of my shows and our friend Kris Bergsnes introduced us and said we should get together and hang out. Danelle called me a few weeks later to go swimming, and we realized we both had our instruments in our car.
We started writing together and invited Kris over too and he listened to us play and told us, “You know, you guys are so much alike. You play a like, sing alike, talk alike, you guys are like sisters. You should be a duo!”
Danelle: Susie and I worked on writing songs and playing music together. There was a point where we were living off Taco soup and just playing music every chance we got. I had met John Rich before I met Susie, so we were on his radar, and he just encouraged us to keep writing and developing our music. A few years later he caught one of our live shows and told us he was interested in helping us get a record deal.
Susie, you worked as a backup singer, before the band got started. What was that like?
Susie: I loved it. I’ve been playing music since I was a little girl and singing harmonies with my sister. Then I got to sing with Shannon Brown and Trisha Yearwood. I love music in general and it’s always been a passion of mine.
Where did the JaneDear girls name come from?
Danelle: We wanted something All-American and fun that people would remember. We learned that it’s actually really hard to get a name that hasn’t already been taken by another band. We tried The Janes, The Dears, Dear Jane and we finally landed on the JaneDear girls.
Has John Deere approached you for sponsorship opportunities?
Both: (Laughs) – No.
Were you surprised by the success of “Wildflower”?
Danelle: Yes, we are surprised to see the song really come to life. It is one thing to feel like you have something great and it’s another for other people to embrace it. We’re so grateful that radio and our fans have embraced “Wildflower” and made our dream become a reality.
On the song “Merry Go Round,” you use Auto-Tune.
Danelle: We do, but not when we perform it live because we still want our authentic vocals to be what carries and drives the sound. I was singing the work tape for this song and sang it really fast because I didn’t have a lot of time, so we put Auto-Tune on it to make a cleaner version. We were just messing around and accidentally put it on too heavy and we thought ‘Wow. That actually sounds really cool.’ So we ended up keeping the Auto-Tune in certain spots of the song.
What do you like better, recording or touring?
Susie: Touring, for me. I like seeing the fans out in the crowd and feeling that energy from them and you’re giving out energy as well. It’s a really great experience and I’ve always loved being a musician and performer.
Danelle: It’s a really hard call. If you asked me that six months ago, I would have said studio in a heartbeat because that was the world we were living in. But now that we’ve gotten the chance to go on the Jason Aldean tour, I have to say there’s no better feeling than to have the fans respond to your music and sing your songs along with you.
What’s a song on the album you’re most proud of?
Susie: I think the one I’m most proud of, because it’s our first single, is “Wildflower.” I never knew I could ever be a songwriter and now, to have this first single on the radio is unbelievable. It’s an amazing feeling going from not knowing how to write a song to having it on the radio and then to having people sing it back to me. It’s one of those things that I would never guess would happen.
Danelle: For me it would be “Merry Go Round” because we both love dancing and we wanted a song on the album that we could have some fun with. I had so much fun being in the studio and watching this song come to life and now seeing how it has translated to our fans. It has all been really encouraging.
What was it like to work with John Rich?
Danelle: It is a dream come true for us and it has been an amazing experience. John and I are both from Amarillo and when we first met he said he was going to start calling me “West Texas” and kind of embraced me as a big brother, mentor type.
Susie: Working with John has been great because he is an artist himself and knows what it’s like to want to put yourself into each song. He is so great about listening to us and letting us be who we are.
How do you girls write songs? Do you each have different strengths?
Danelle: Writing is my therapy. It depends on the day, but sometimes the melody will come first and sometimes the lyrics will come to me first.
Susie: My strengths are melodies over lyrics. Growing up a musician and playing the fiddle, you always try to get melodic melodies from that. I’ve done it my whole life and the words are more secondary to me.
Who would you most like to work with in the future?
Danelle: Paul McCartney.