Singer/songwriter Kristian Bush is known in Nashville circuits as the master of lyric and melody. Since exploding onto the scene more than a decade ago with Jennifer Nettles in Sugarland, his contributions have contributed to album sales surpassing 22 million worldwide including five #1 singles. His debut solo album, 2015’s Southern Gravity, was another hook-laden compilation of creative expression and visual imagery.
Bush’s infectious new single, the appropriately titled “Sing Along” (written with Andrew DeRoberts) offers a rare look into the songwriter’s life. Written from a personal perspective the song delivers a positive message and fairytale ending to Bush’s heartfelt ode to love. The accompanying video, directed by Kyle Morgan, also gives a visual interpretation of Bush’s trademark melody and writing style.
I recently spoke with Bush about “Sing Along” and his music as well as got his thoughts on producing guitarist Lindsay Ell’s debut album, The Project in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: How did the new single, “Sing Along” come about?
Kristian Bush: From a writing perspective it actually happened while I was in the middle of another write. Sometimes if I’m chasing an idea or mood with a co-writer, I’ll run out of road on whatever the song is that we're working on. That’s when I’ll say let’s take a few minutes and try something completely different. In this case, myself and Andrew DeRoberts turned everything undone and I started painting the pictures of the kids outside with fireworks and about spinning a girl around listening to records. I really loved these images and suddenly, melodies started to work. We were trying to get back to the other song, but it was such an encapsulated emotion that it happened very quickly. It’s really a specific conversation about my real life, which is something I rarely reveal in my songs. I usually reveal the context and situation but never the details. This was one of those rare moments where my personal life became my public life.
AXS: What’s your songwriting process like?
KB: It usually starts with something someone says or something I’ve wittiness down. Other times when I’m playing guitar I’ll start out by singing something that initially sounds like gibberish, but I can immediately tell you what it’s supposed to be. Then once we have that inspiration flows from it or you apply craft. Songs can come from a lot of different directions but I’ve found that the more I write the more I like starting with a series of words or phrases that seem relevant and then work backwards.
AXS: What can you tell me about the video for “Sing Along”?
KB: Kyle Morgan (director) came up with the treatment of the Super-8 camera and the idea that the past and future are very similar. For me, the song was written as a dedication, but what was cool was that Kyle painted a picture I didn’t see. It was one where your experience needs to go to someone else so they can use it. Kyle took the idea and made it into a similar conversation but one that was really supposed to be handed down from one person to the next.
Click here to watch the video for "Sing Along".
AXS: Can you give me an update on your next album, the follow-up to Southern Gravity?
KB: The artist is always the last to know when the release date happens, but I have two more recording sessions coming up soon that are pretty significant. At the earliest, my job as creator will be finished in about two months.
AXS: What’s your touring schedule like for the rest of the year?
KB: One of the dates that was recently announced is my yearly appearance at Eddie’s Attic here in Atlanta. Even before Sugarland I was playing those shows on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I use it as a platform to launch the talent I’ve found throughout the year and also as a way to preview things for fans who want to hear what’s happening next. Last year, I had Lindsay Ell with me and my longtime friend, Michelle Malone. I also reformed my old band, Billy Pilgrim last year. I can’t tell you who’s going to be there this year yet, but I can tell you it’s going to be a lot of fun.
AXS: You mentioned Lindsay Ell, who’s debut album, The Project is about to be released. You produced the new album. What can fans expect from it?
KB: You can expect music that will make you move. You can also expect to hear the result of what happens when someone as talented as Lindsay puts her head down and says “What if I can do more?” One of the things I love most about this album is that Lindsay was surprised about what she could do, and that means I did my job.
AXS: What is the most challenging part about being a producer?
KB: For me, it’s defining the sound of the artist, so that when you hear a song come on the radio you immediately know who it is, even before the singer. The temperature of the music is just as important as the temperature of the singer. It’s something I’ve been passionate about for years and I love that I can help people express that. For Lindsay, we really got to focus on how her guitar playing and singing happens together. I’m so proud and excited for her and can’t wait for the world to hear what she can do.
AXS: What excites you the most about this next phase of your career? What are you most looking forward to?
KB: I’m looking forward to a reality they told me was impossible. The thing I love the most about what’s next is that I feel there are multiple avenues opening at the same time that will be able to catch all of the songs I keep throwing out into the world. They’re all starting to fit in different places. It’s caused me to have this a very hopeful attitude on creating. There can be so much rejection in the business and coming to terms with that is important in how well you do going forward. You’ll get rejected, but hold on to the things that succeed like big red balloons. For me, what’s cool is that instead of grabbing one balloon at a time, I’m now holding on to three or four. It’s allowed me to put my hand down to grab other people and pull them up with me.