If you were to blend the Chainsmokers with Florida Georgia Line, you'd get 17 Memphis. The fearless new duo of Chelsea Todd and pop genius Felix Snow — who has written and produced for artists like Katy Perry and Selena Gomez — are equipped with their 808s and drum loops and ready to make a bold statement in world of country music.
The two penned an EDM-infused track called “Honey Jack” during a cross-country road trip in 2016, marking the birth of their new endeavor. It's vocally smooth, as is the production, but it's a new branch for the genre. They're okay with that. In fact, 17 Memphis welcome it.
“This doesn't live anywhere. And we were just really stoked on the idea of creating a new vein of music that doesn't exist," Todd tells Taste of Country. “That's more inspiring than anything that we've done ... basically creating almost an entirely new genre in itself. It's country, but it's got this whole pop thing going on and people don't know what they're listening to when they hear it, and I think that's really exciting."
FGL have been one of 17 Memphis' biggest influences — the recall buying the "Cruise" duo's breakthrough Here’s to the Good Times album and listening to it on repeat, absorbing the sound and lyrics.
“We were really inspired by them because I felt like they were closest to what we were trying to do," Todd explains. While new to country music, Todd and Snow have no desire to play it safe.
They acknowledge that their pop-leaning sound and 808s will turn some people off, but they're undeterred. 17 Memphis have set on their journey with a goal of making meaningful music that not only fulfills them creatively, but spreads a positive message. Well aware of the endless argument of what is and what is not country, Snow says when you create something others deem unfit for a specific genre, it can smother authenticity.
“If you're in a studio creating, and you're not going to do something that is part of your intuition to do creatively for the reason, 'Well that's not country or that's not what these people expect, that's not what these people want'... You can't create like that,” Snow says.
“I think that just kills the art as a whole, not just the genre,” Todd adds. “Any genre — pop, jazz, anything where there's any kind of boundaries — it does kill the art. And like Snow said, it kills the freedom to be authentic as an artist."
So bring it on, critics. The eclectic duo know there are country music fans ready to embrace them. “I just want it to be something that people really enjoy listening to and on top of that, sort of have people point to it and be like 'this was something that helped to push it out of its comfort zone,'" Snow says.
"I think the heart of the album, Felix and I really believe in spreading positivity and I think for the most part, all of our songs try to exude that and exude love," Todd continues, describing how they aimed to create a project that’s both pleasing and impactful for the listener.
"Wejust wanted to create that world and I think we did a pretty good job.”
17 Memphis' newest track, "Under the Night," is out now. They'll follow with an EP in 2018.