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Can We Get an Encore?

Louisiana native Hunter Hayes has been setting the country music world on fire for the past year, with two No. 1 singles (“Wanted” and “Somebody’s Heartbreak”), three Grammy noms and an opening spot on Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away tour. Oh, and this is his first album: not bad for a 21-year-old who co-wrote, produced and played every instrument found on his self-titled debut. This month, the singer-songwriter will release the deluxe edition entitled Encore, featuring new tracks, guest vocals and his latest single, “I Want Crazy.” @hunterhayes

Jason Mraz and Pistol Annies member Ashley Monroe sing on Hayes’ deluxe album, out June 18.

Give us the scoop on your debut single “Wanted.”
Most of the time when I write a song about someone, I don’t want them to hear it. This was the one song I was really passionate about this girl hearing. It was like, ‘Hey, best friend, is this supposed to work? Are we supposed to do the relationship thing or what?’ We’re still close friends, and it was a great test—write a serious love song about someone and see if they don’t run away. [Laughs]

We couldn’t imagine running from you! What’s it like to see fans running to you in excitement?
It’s the coolest thing in the world, honestly. It’s been my dream that somebody would, but I never thought it would be possible for somebody to walk up to me and say, ‘Wow, that song “Cry With You” got me through a hard time in my life.’ That’s why I make music.

Have you ever had a starstruck moment?
Tons! Everything from the night I met Sting, to meeting John Mayer for the first time. Get this: I’m walking up to John, and I’m rehearsing my speech of how huge of a fan I am and how he’s influenced my music, and he actually came up to me and was like, ‘Man, I’ve been watching your live shows on YouTube,’ and went on complimenting how I play.

We heard you love A-Town’s music scene.
Pretty much every concert I’ve seen this past year has been in Atlanta. We drive [here] just to see shows. Atlanta gave me my first experience with Mutemath, who I’m a huge fan of. My first Coldplay concert was at Philips Arena, and we just checked out Taylor Swift’s Red tour there, too.