Gabrielle Mooney is the sister of Dan + Shay star Shay Mooney and until recently she’d been songwriting for other artists under the name Lyrx.
The Arkansas native is stepping into the spotlight herself with the release of her catchy single ‘Come On In’, which is a taste of things to come from the talented artist. She’s also had a hit as a co-writer on Walker Hayes’ recent single ’90s Country’.
I caught up with Gabrielle to talk about the inspiration behind ‘Come On In’, discuss growing up singing with Shay and to find out what her advice would be to those who want to follow in her footsteps….
Gabrielle, it’s so nice to meet you over the phone. How are you doing today?
Oh my gosh! That is so cool. You have the coolest accent (laughs). I want it (laughs).
It’s great to speak to another member of the incredibly talented Mooney family as I’ve met your brother a few times over the years…
I’m actually at Shay’s house right now. checked out right now. They didn’t have a babysitter for the boys and they asked me and I was like, ‘are you kidding me? I will be there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. I am in!’ I’ve been getting to hang out with my two nephews this afternoon. They’re too precious. I can’t handle it.
Your single ‘Come On In’ came out recently and it’s such a catchy song. What was the inspiration behind it?
Well as you know, I’m really close to Shay. Me and Shay grew up on a farm in Arkansas and I think that always want to get out of your hometown when it’s so small, and you’re thinking everything is so much bigger and better and so much cooler outside of this little farm town. When you’re little, your dream is to move out. I lived in Pittsburgh for a couple of years and I’ve lived in Nashville for a while now. A couple years ago when I wrote the song, I went home to Arkansas and my grandpa had just passed away. My grandma wasn’t doing well at all and she had had a few strokes. Time marched on and I did not really appreciate everything that my family was, until I got older and left. When I was looking through all these photos, and looking through all this stuff, it just made me super emotional. When I was driving back, I had a writing session that afternoon. I was just so inspired about my family and the way I grew up. It just kind of started flowing out.
I will have to admit that the words ‘come on in’ were actually completely stolen from a song from The Martins and called ‘Come On In’, that me, Erica and Shay used to sing in church. We would harmonise and Shay would just kill it per usual, you know Shay (laughs). We used to sing it all the time so I incorporated that sentiment into the song. That’s where that inspiration came from. My grandpa, he had an old Ford that I would drive around, and he would try to teach me stick shift. My dad worked in construction so he would always have work boots in the back. All the little things that you hear in there is just me saying, basically my life and my home. It meant so much to me to write it, but I really feel like it encompassed everything that I grew up on. So there’s your longest winded answer ever (laughs).
I’m quite obsessed with your voice. Your voice is so unique, and it’s so different to everybody else out there. You mentioned earlier that you grew up singing but when did realise you had this voice and that you would be able to have a career in music?
You know, honestly, I never considered myself an amazing singer or anything like that. I’ve always been more of the songwriter in the family. When you grow up with Shay Mooney, you’re just in awe. I mean, even me, I’m his sister, but I’m his biggest fan… me and my older sister, Erica, we’re just Shay’s biggest fans. I never really considered myself this incredible singer or anything like that. I was more of the, I’m going to stay at home while everybody goes away, because I have this great song here that I need to get out of my head. Honestly, it was more about the songwriting for me, and the only way I knew how to get my songwriting out there was to sing. Playing on the piano and writing my songs, that was my outlet. It was the way to get my feelings and emotions out. For Shay, songwriting came a little later for him but he’s an unbelievable songwriter now. I never really considered myself a singer so when I did start singing and got my songs out there, people were like, ‘Oh, you’ve got a great voice’ and I was like, ‘Oh, do I? I don’t know. Okay, thank you so much!’ As I got older, I got more confident in. It wasn’t that I wasn’t confident, I love to perform and I love to get my songs out there, but it was more for me about the songs.
You and Shay both have strong voices and they’re so different. I want to hear a sing-off at some point…
Oh, no, he’s gonna win every time. This is a simple fact. He does a run and I’m like, ‘okay, I give up. That’s unbelievable, it’s just unreal’ (laughs). I’ll give him the singing accolades all day long. He wins that every time.
You were a co-writer on Walker Hayes’ song ’90s Country’. What was he like to work with?
Honestly, I love Walker. In fact, I was at Shay’s show and Walker opened for him. We were in the hallway and Shay was like, ‘you guys should write. My sister is a great songwriter and so are you. I think that you guys would really get along’ and so that was actually how that came about. This was me and Walker’s first write together ever. We get in there and Walker is very eclectic, with his way of doing things. It was a lot for me to keep up with with him. He’s very ADD, I love it! (laughs). We sat down, we focused it in, and that song came out of it, and we reminisced on everything that we’d ever listened to growing up, which was 90s Country. I was really happy that Walker chose to do that song as a single. I had no idea until they told me, that it was even going to be one of the songs that he cut. The fact that it was a single… I mean I was jazzed y’all (laughs).
What are your plans after ‘Come On In’? Are you focusing on individual tracks or working on an EP?
We’re not doing an EP until next year but we are putting out more music. A lot of my stuff is very Southern Rock. I’ve always been the black sheep of the family but (laughs) my family gets it so you get to see that when the music comes out. I’ve always had the boyfriends that were in punk rock bands and scared my family half to death. They were like, ‘oh dear Lord, what’s grandpa going to say?’ (laughs) They’ve always been super supportive from every standpoint, but they’re also like, ‘OK, are you going to get another tattoo?’ My music that’s coming out after this one is a little more Southern rock and very, very Country-based. A lot of people say, ‘Oh you’ve got that Cadillac Three feel’ so that makes me happy because I love those boys. Their rock is just super dope. I mixed in the country with heavier guitars and some edgier stuff. I hope you like it. It’s different, but it’s fun for sure (laughs).
Southern Rock is pretty popular in the UK. It goes down a storm…
Oh, really? Well, hey, I will come out to the UK anytime. I’ve been to Germany, Austria and Sweden, and I could have lived there forever. I’ve never been to England ever and that’s the one place that I’m just like, ‘oh, that would be so cool’. It would be so cool. Is it beautiful? Am I missing out super hard?
It depends where you go. We’ve got a lot of countryside where you can go and see the lakes and do some walking. You’ve also got the cities as well with all of the restaurants, bars and the nightlife. It depends what kind of experience you want but if you come to London, you can pretty much get both…
Oh, well, I’m gonna take you up on that. You’re gonna have to show me around and everybody will be asking me, ‘what are you saying again?’ because our accents are so different (laughs) but I love it. I might fall in love, like three different times with English boys but just ignore me, it because of the accents. I can’t help it.
We could do like a matchmaking thing when you come over couldn’t we? We could take you around the country and see which English boys you like most?
(laughs) Win a date with Gabrielle but it’s really me trying to win a date with them (laughs)
This pandemic is really dragging on and it’s frustrating for us all. Have you been able to be creative during this time and how have you been coping?
Well, I didn’t (cope) for six months. Me and Shay were like, ‘forget this. We’re going to Arkansas’. We literally hauled everyone to Arkansas for six months and we’re just out on the farm because there is no Corona with the cows. We thought we’re pretty safe here so we might as well take this time to be with the family and Shay just had Ames so it was just a really, really good time. I did some Zoom writes but it’s very, very difficult to portray what you’re trying to say on Zoom. It’s almost impossible. We finally got back to Nashville and back to a little bit of normalcy. It’s still very strange and you still can’t tour. It’s very, very challenging releasing a brand new song but I think that social media has made it a lot different and a little easier to be more creative with stuff and be able to push it and promote it. We’re still figuring it out. It’s gonna be a process and a learning process for everyone involved in so I’m just really thankful for my team helping us navigate this.
With Christmas fast approaching, are you thinking about doing any Christmas songs?
You know, we haven’t even talked about that yet but that is a great idea. I would love to. Christmas is quite literally my favorite time of year, I know probably everybody says but I love it because it’s the one time that we all get to be together as a family. I would love that. Great idea. Are you gonna try to take credit for it if i do? If I do?
Absolutely, of course. I’ll be over social media saying ‘this was my idea Gabrielle. Thank you!’
You’ll be like, ‘I will take 10% of that song. It was my idea so…’ (laughs)
It would interesting to do your Country’s Southern Rock twist on a Christmas song and see if we can make that work….
Right? Like ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ except very, very different… (laughs)
I’m sure you could do anything you put your mind to. I can hear the passion in your voice when you speak about music…
I really appreciate that! That’s sweet. Except for drums. Shay tells me I’m horrible at the drums and never to attempt them ever again so I won’t be doing that (laughs).
What advice would you give to someone that wants to follow in your footsteps?
Number one, you have to love writing. You have to love songs, you have to love what you’re doing. I think a lot of people that move to Nashville, they think that they’re just going to move here, and they’re great singer so they’re all of a sudden going to get signed but it’s really a lot more than that. My advice for people would be, don’t give up on one or two songs. Write hundreds of songs. Write until your fingers bleed because that’s the only way you’re going to get better and the only way you’re going to learn. You need to really take criticism and decide, ‘is this criticism coming from a good place?’ and if it is, actually take it to heart and listen to what people are saying because that’s the only way you’re going to get better. When you’re writing songs, they become super, super personal to you but sometimes those songs aren’t going to resonate with other people so maybe that’s just a song you keep for yourself and you just keep writing more until that perfect song that you want to be released is written. I say don’t give up and keep writing. Never give up. If somebody is like, ‘this sucks’ then be like ‘OK, well, I’m just going to keep writing’. It’s easy to give up – very, very easy – but it’s not easy to just keep going. You really have to make sure you love it. If it’s just a side deal, it ain’t for you. You’ve got to make this your life. That would be my advice to anybody coming in. Make it your entire life.
That’s really great advice. It is such a difficult path to pursue…
It’s very easy to get discouraged because there are so many talented people here. There’s songwriters that can literally write 15 number one and you’re just sitting there thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ll never be that good’. But it’s not about anybody else. They went through the same thing, where they were writing for forever and nothing hit. It’s all about just pushing through those insecurities and realising you have a lot to learn and you never stop learning.
Gabrielle Mooney’s single ‘Come On In’ is out now. Take a listen to it below: