"I wanted Jimmie to be Jimmie. I didn't want him to feel like I put him in a box," the singer-songwriter tells PEOPLE. "He got it done on the first pass!"

By Tricia Despres
June 09, 2021 05:45 PM

Noah Schnacky knew darn well that no one knew his name.

As the relatively unknown music artist walked around backstage at the Country Thunder music festival prepping for his morning performance, he kept noticing the side-eye he was getting from security, wondering what the heck the kid with the movie star looks was really up to.

"They wouldn't even get me a bottle of water," laughs Schnacky, 24, of the memory from over two years ago during a recent interview with PEOPLE. "I was so obscure at that time that they didn't even know I was performing. They thought I was some fan that had just snuck backstage or something."

But there was one person who shot him a smile, one person backstage who decided to catch his set, one person who had to come over and give him all sorts of props for a job well done.

That person was Jimmie Allen.

And from that moment on, the two have been great friends.

"For him to come over and say, 'Hey' was very special," Schnacky says of Allen, the reigning ACM new male artist of the year.

And it was this kindness and caring attitude that Schnacky has never forgotten, especially as of late. Indeed, the two both find themselves looking to introduce a new lane to country music, a new sound that steers far from the traditional. So, when Schnacky dreamed up a song that had a melodic hook seldom heard on country radio of old, he knew he wanted to collaborate with someone with a fresh sound. And he knew there was only one person to call.

He called Jimmie Allen.

"I had a dream where it was me and my brother and we were on a double date, and my brother was showing off for this girl and singing this little melody," explains Schnacky of the dream he dreamt this past December that turned into his newest track "Don't You Wanna Know." "When I woke up around six o'clock in the morning, I recorded what I had remembered into my phone, and then immediately typed the lyrics in to see if the song already existed. And it didn't."

And then, he rolled over and went back to sleep. But later that day, Schnacky returned to the melody he had heard in his dream.

"It was the first time a song come through me through a dream," says Schnacky, who ended up co-writing the song alongside Joshua Wade Dorr and Dylan Guthro. "The writers thought I was insane when I said I had dreamt this song up, but everyone was excited by the end of it."

Noah Schnacky and Jimmie Allen
Noah Schnacky and Jimmie Allen
| Credit: Courtesy of Big Machine Records

Adding to that excitement level was getting to add Allen to the mix.

"I reached out to Jimmie first, and he got back to me almost immediately," Schnacky remembers. "He said, 'Send me the track and I'll tell you what I think.' He liked it, and he was already in Miami recording tracks, so he told me he would have his part back to me in 24 hours. I had no notes for him. I wanted Jimmie to be Jimmie. I didn't want him to feel like I put him in a box. He got it done on the first pass. When we put it all together, it was magic."

The song speaks of the fact that fun is universal, no matter who you are or where you live or what kind of car you drive. And while the vibey sound of the song seems to sway a bit from the country backbeat of old, Schnacky is feeling it, and knows that his fans will too.

"Who I am is a product of all the songs I have ever loved," says Schnacky, who has also quickly become a TikTok sensation with over 6.9 million followers. "I was listening to Jason Derulo as much as I was listening to Garth Brooks. They were all pumping through my radio at the same time. It's what makes me, me. As I have grown up, I have realized that I can be forward and progressive but still hold onto my roots."

Noah Schnacky
Noah Schnacky
| Credit: Ford Fairchild

And it's this unique style that Schnacky is becoming known for within a career that already boasts of songs such as "She Broke My Heart," "Every Girl I Ever Loved" and last year's debut self-titled EP which has amassed over 67 million streams.

"One of the things I love is that I can put out a story song, and then I can put out a song that makes you feel like going 100 mph in the middle of the night," says Schnacky, who refers to his current relationship status as somewhat "tricky." "I'm not going to be pigeonholed. Me loving country doesn't mean I hate hip-hop. The fact is that people are starting to fall in love based on the artist and a brand rather than a genre, which gives everyone like me the creative freedom to be who they are supposed to be and not just fit in a box."