Often music can be romantic and trigger emotions that are all about that loving feeling. Keifer and Shawna Thompson, the husband and wife who make up country music band Thompson Square, know a few things about love. Having both moved to Nashville in 1996 to launch their music careers, they met, and never looked back. From playing at the Grand Ole Opry, to releasing three studio albums to having their son Rigney Cooper in 2016, the duo have had some incredible highlights and momentous occasions over their 20 years of marriage. They parted ways with their label in 2017 and put out the independently released Masterpiece, and their first single in three years, the title track of their record, has just been released.
Now, there is no one else out there in the country music industry quite like the duo, and their relationship transcends into their music greatly. “If it works, it works for you together and if it fails, it fails for you together,” they told us. They are well and truly a team. We caught up with them and found out more about how they’re feeling about joining a new label, why their relationship is so important to their music and what they’ve got coming up next in this new, exciting chapter.
“Try as hard as you can to be yourself! It’s hard sometimes to be 100% yourself when you’re in the commercial business of music. It’s difficult to embrace that, or have someone take a chance on you. Never give up! Keep going and keep doing what you’re doing. You’ll get there, persevere!” – Thompson Square
Taylor Magazine: Tell us about you both and what you do.
Thompson Square: We’re a married couple duo from the States – there’s not many of us out there so we’re quite unique! We’ve had a good little string of hits over here, the biggest being ‘Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not?’ and ‘If I Didn’t Have You’, which are big number ones for us. We have a three-year-old son who travels everywhere with us, so our bus is comprised of the band crew, two dogs, husband, wife and the little one. It’s a lot of fun!
Taylor Magazine: It sounds fun, and it sounds like everything is going really well for you guys. Tell us, how did you get into country music?
Thompson Square (Shawna): I grew up in South Alabama, and from a young age, I always wanted to be involved in country music. As soon as I finished high school, I moved to Nashville and that’s when I met Keifer. It’s pretty serendipitous how everything happened. We both just have a genuine love for country music.
Thompson Square (Keifer): The first kind of music I heard was the likes of Elvis Presley and Roger Miller. I fell in love with the song-writing aspect from what I heard of those guys, and I’d always wanted to sing and write from that. We both moved here back in 1996 and I tell you, it’s been a crazy ride since then! We’re very fortunate to be able to do what we do, and we’re really excited to come over and play for you guys in the UK.
Taylor Magazine: The country music scene is definitely growing and becoming more and more popular in the UK, so we’re excited too! In terms of working together as a married couple, how do you find that experience?
Thompson Square (Keifer): I mean, you’re talking to two people in a really unique situation. There’s not that many challenges to be honest. The main thing is, you never get a chance to miss the other person. You never have that feeling of, ‘you’ve been at work all day’ or ‘you’ve been gone for a week’. That’s, kind of, a frustrating part. I think having your own space and free time is something we’re starting to learn. It’s an odd concept to think about because you’re never apart and never have that feeling! But if it works, it works for you together and if it fails, it fails for you together.
Taylor Magazine: What is it you love the most about working in the country music industry?
Thompson Square (Keifer): There’s a few different aspects that I love. One of those is the song-writing process. How an idea comes out of the air, gets down onto paper, put on a record and then plays on the radio. That’s an amazing thing for me to experience.
Thompson Square (Shawna): What he said! But also, going out and playing live is something I really love. Getting that feedback and energy from an audience is amazing.
Taylor Magazine: On the other side of that, what do you find quite challenging about the industry?
Thompson Square (Keifer): So many things! Any time you get non-creative people controlling creative people, there are going to be challenges. I mean, if we were all creative then nothing would get done but it can be a struggle. Sometimes you feel like people maybe don’t have your best interests at heart, as it’s not necessarily about the art for someone else. That can be frustrating when for us, it’s all about the art.
“I think having your own space and free time is something we’re starting to learn. It’s an odd concept to think about because you’re never apart!” – Keifer, Thompson Square
Taylor Magazine: It must be really important to find that balance. What has been one of your career highlights?
Thompson Square (Shawna): Having a couple of Grammy nominations was pretty cool! Also, performing at the Opry was amazing. It’s such a big moment, so that’s definitely up there.
Thompson Square (Keifer): The Opry has been something that was a focal point for us since we’ve been kids – our parents were old-school country fans with the thought process of: ‘If you can grace that stage, then you’ve made it.’ It’s a big deal!
Taylor Magazine: What advice would you give to aspiring music artists?
Thompson Square (Shawna): Never give up! Keep going and keep doing what you’re doing. You’ll get there… persevere!
Thompson Square (Keifer): Try as hard as you can to be yourself. It’s hard sometimes to be 100% yourself when you’re in the commercial business of music. It’s difficult to embrace that, or have someone take a chance on you. Sometimes, these relationships can cultivate your originality.
Taylor Magazine: When you guys are on tour or on the road, what do you do to relax and wind down after a particuarly busy or full-on schedule?
Thompson Square (Shawna): We really like to get out and see the country or place we’re in. It’s a great opportunity for us to go and explore, so we love doing anything where we can experience something or somewhere.
Taylor Magazine: What should we look out for from you guys over the next few months?
Thompson Square (Keifer): Well, we just signed a new record deal! They love the record we made independently and so we signed with them. It’s going to be different, because we were never in a position or had the leadership to make it over to the UK, so we’re really excited to come over and perform six hits that you’ve never heard before. We’re really proud of it, so you guys are getting the culmination of seven years of work in a couple of weeks!