Dan Smyers says he and Shay Mooney, along with their families, were "freaking out" when they won again for best country duo/group performance

By Jen Juneau and Topher Gauk-Roger
March 14, 2021 08:22 PM
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Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney of music group Dan + Shay
Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay
| Credit: Rich Fury/Getty

Despite winning best country duo/group performance the last two years in a row, Dan + Shay were genuinely surprised when they were named the honorees once more at the 2021 Grammy Awards.

Speaking with PEOPLE from a backstage press room at Sunday's event, Dan Smyers called the win for "10,000 Hours," the duo's song with Justin Bieber, an "incredible" feeling, explaining, "Every year winning a Grammy is like the coolest thing in the entire world."

For more on the 2021 Grammy Awards, listen below to the episode of PEOPLE Every Day.

"We dreamed of this our entire lives and you never take it for granted, but this year I feel like it's extra special," continued Smyers, 33. "When it's a normal year, we're out on the road, we're doing 100-plus shows a year, so you're feeling the love one-on-one with your fans every single night. But I speak for a lot of artists when I say this: This year [with COVID-19] has been super tough for our industry as a whole, and you aren't able to feel the connection."

"You might have a hit song, you might have a song that climbs charts on the radio, but you're not feeling the fans singing back to you every single night," Smyers added. "So to be acknowledged by our peers and the Recording Academy like this — to have tangible evidence of the success and the connection of that song — is is really cool. It made us feel really good."

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Smyers also said he and Mooney, 29, "were super nervous" waiting to hear the winner announced — "as we always are," perhaps "even more nervous this year," despite their past success in the category.

"You're in the comfort of your own home and you're sitting here in front of the computer screen and you're listening in," he recalled to PEOPLE. "Country music is such a family, so we're friends of all the other artists in the category. So you're kind of in for everybody, but obviously everybody's competitive and wants the win."

"You they're going through it and you're just playing all the scenarios in your head," the artist continued. "And then they say our song and our names and you have no clue — we freeze. I mean, you could probably see it from our acceptance speech — we had no clue what we were going to say and we were rambling. So apologies to anybody I forgot or anything I said that was ridiculous. But yeah, it means a lot."

Mooney told reporters that winning the award was "a very surreal thing," explaining of even the nomination itself: "There's so many talented artists and so many amazing songs that are always in the mix, and to be able to be thrown into that, it's just a huge honor."

Check out PEOPLE's full Grammys coverage to get the latest news on music's biggest night.

AMAs 2020 arrivals
Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay
| Credit: Getty Images

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"And to be on a song with a buddy of ours, Justin Bieber, is just incredible, and he's such a talented guy," Mooney said. "We've been a fan of his for a long time, and just having him on the song — from the birth of this song being out here in Nashville and getting him on the song and him finishing and … kind of putting the final touches on it and making it what it is now — that was crazy that happened to begin with."

He went on to say it's going to be an "amazing day whenever we actually get to be there with [Bieber, 27] in person and get to celebrate with him."

But for now, Mooney said, "I'm here with my best friend. It's been a tough year — we haven't got to tour — so this is a very special moment, and I'm very proud that I get to share it with [Smyers]."

For the duo, getting to celebrate the win with their families was also a huge "blessing." As Smyers told reporters, "Our wives were over here, with our manager in the other room, and everybody was just freaking out."

He added, "To be nominated to be in a category is truly a dream come true, even after we've won a couple of them. It never gets old. It really doesn't."

The Grammy Awards, hosted by Trevor Noah, will air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS Television Network and Paramount+.