It’s not easy uprooting something you’ve grown for years and moving it from comfortable soil to unfamiliar territory. But in the summer of 2016, that’s exactly what Moonlight Social did. Jennica Scott and Jeremy Burchard loaded up the van, a trailer, a few other cars, the dog and the cat, and, with a bittersweet goodbye, put Austin, Texas in the rear view.
About 14 hours and 850 miles later, they planted themselves in Nashville, Tennessee — roots fully intact.
And then they got to work.
Moonlight Social formed all the way back in 2010, when Scott and Burchard met as members of the University of Texas Longhorn Marching Band — Scott as a trumpet player, and Jeremy as a member of the drumline.
Over the next six years, they toured consistently, playing hundreds of shows throughout more than a dozen states. They played huge festival stages in Wisconsin with the likes of Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line, and they played intimate songwriter nights in Texas with critical darlings like Hayes Carll and Jack Ingram. They performed debut single “Heading South” with the Longhorn Band during an epic basketball game halftime and they completed marathon weeks of seven shows in four days during SXSW.
They also released two singles to Texas radio, building their core fan base the old fashioned way. And their brand of genre bending country garnered plenty of accomplishments and praise in the process, from being named one the Best New Bands at the Austin Music Awards to winning Grammy-sponsored showcases.
As a vocalist, Jennica Scott earned comparisons to some of country’s biggest female stars, like Shania Twain, Martina McBride and Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. Jeremy Burchard won admiration for his emotive baritone vocal and eclectic guitar playing.
And even in the band’s early years, the industry took note of the duo’s unmistakably original take on country music. “I’ve heard thousands of bands, and I’ve never heard a musical blend quite like this,” producer CJ Eiriksson (U2, Matchbox Twenty) said after hearing debut album Heading South. “It sounds great.”
“Moonlight Social has managed to create a sound that is as exciting as it is original,” said Monte Warden, award-winning songwriter behind cuts for artists like George Strait and Carrie Underwood. “I also admire and am drawn to their commitment to excellence and stretching for that next rung on the artistic ladder; a quality rarely found in this era of ‘famous-first, game-show celebrity, ball-cap is the new hat act’ pabulum currently inundating us country fans. ”
In 2015, Moonlight Social began travelling to Nashville, taking meetings and co-writing with everyone from bona fide pros to young upstarts. That year, they released “Rub A Little Dirt On It,” which went on to win the SongDoor International Songwriting Contest for Best Country Song (and place in countless other competitions).
Upon hearing the single, Music City’s most well-regarded critic and historian Robert K. Oermann said, “This new single makes me positive that they are destined for stardom. Somebody sign these folks up for the big time.”
So why did Moonlight Social choose to move to Nashville, leaving behind much of what they built over the past half decade?
“We owed it to ourselves and to the amazing people who helped us over the years to give it everything we’ve got,” Burchard says. “There’s an attitude shift in Nashville that is embracing really cool, unique sounds in country music. You see it in artists like Little Big Town, Maren Morris, Brothers Osborne and Miranda Lambert. We’ve got an opportunity to be a part of something bigger.”
That opportunity manifests itself in the duo’s first release since 2015, “Make You Smile” (co-written with Jo-Leah Tilbury, who also co-wrote their award-winning “Rub A Little Dirt On It”). The new song flips the typical “hook-up” culture concept on its head, using the pair’s mutual heartbreak as the underlying basis for a “misery loves company” theme rooted in musical therapy.
Co-produced by Burchard and featuring a supporting cast of some of Nashville’s finest players, the tune is the first new single from a forthcoming EP. Upon its release, The HuffPost called "Make You Smile" "One of the best country pop songs of the year" and "simply irresistible." Moonlight Social released follow-up single "Bad Side" in January 2018.
As a band that traversed the country world and underwent all the growing pains associated with it, Scott and Burchard are poised to carve out and occupy their own space in country music. Despite the ever-changing popularity tides of the day, Moonlight Social has stuck to their guns and made the music they wanted to make.