And at the center of it all are Beasley and Lane. The duo brings forth a notion of legitimacy to the country genre. These folks didn’t grow up in a big city or the suburbs like many of today’s radio stars. Nope, they were raised in rural Graham County. It was a place where they learned music from their elders while soaking in the essence of country living — from moonshine to hunting, community pride to the simple joy of front porch pickin’.
The Smoky Mountain News recently caught up with Beasley and Lane. They spoke of their childhood in Robbinsville, the songwriting process, and why a recent record deal may just be the perfect recipe to bring My Highway into the mainstream.
Smoky Mountain News: How did 2013 wrap up for My Highway?
Josh Lane: We had our best year so far. From playing sold out after-parties at Harrah’s Cherokee for Little Big Town, Jamey Johnson, and even The Black Crowes, to our “Carolina Moonshine” music video filming — it has been a great year.
SMN: When was the first time you realized you wanted to play music?
JL: The first time I played the Graham County Heritage Festival in 1992, with the Carolina Bluegrass Boys. I knew the music business was what I wanted to do.
Josh Beasley: I’ve always loved country music. I pretty much knew every word of every song on the radio through high school and college. But, when I turned 23, I got my first guitar and I was hooked.
SMN: Growing up in Robbinsville and Western North Carolina, how did that influence your musical ambitions and talents?
JL: I always grew up around gospel and bluegrass, and have played both. I like the spirit in gospel, and like the heart and heritage in bluegrass. It’s who we are as people in Western North Carolina.
JB: It seems like everybody plays or sings around here. Seriously, I think some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met are from right here at home. Music was something I connected with and I was fortunate to grow up in an area it was so prominent. A lot of the bluegrass and gospel carries over into what I do.
SMN: How did My Highway come about?
JB: I actually came to Lane with a song I had written, just for an opinion. I had been asked to play a wedding reception, where Lane and I performed. We started playing restaurants, private parties and a dance hall called Jimmy’s Pick N Grin in Andrews. We basically kept going, forming a full band, and started branching out in Western North Carolina, which eventually led to playing the Southeast. We believe, “If your goin’ do it, do it, don’t talk about it — make it happen.”
SMN: What’s your songwriting process like?
JL: We basically will have a line or hook, then will add a melody. Occasionally, we’ll have a melody and try to add lyrics, but usually the words come first. We never know what the final product will sound like. Sometimes it’s pretty creative what we come up with, but we just focus on keeping the songs personal, meaningful to us, our stories and experiences.
SMN: You just signed a record deal with a Sony subsidiary. What are the parameters of the deal and what does it mean for My Highway?
JL: We’re excited for everyone to hear our music. We’ll have a professional product, based on our music and style. We’re finally getting to play our music as a career, and it feels great.
We signed a 360 deal with Mizay Music Group based in Atlanta. Our distribution will be through Sony RED, which works with big names like Jason Aldean, Mumford & Sons. We feel at home with Mizay Music Group and are excited to be the first country artist signed to a mostly hip-hop/rap label. We’re also proud to have our music career managed by Debra Antney. She has managed and been influential to the careers of artists like Nicki Minaj, Waka Flocka and French Montana. We’ve been currently working on an EP record, produced by Josh Cross, who has worked with Justin Bieber and Carley Ray Jepsen. We’re also being co-produced by Scott Patton of Sugarland.
SMN: What do you want someone to feel leaving your show?
JL: We just want the people to see and feel the passion and energy we put into our show. The fans are always the focus. We just like to put on a performance that makes the people forget the world, and have the best time they’ve ever had at a live show. We feel this is what we are meant to do — we can feel it.