Sugarland’s Kristian Bush Talks Songwriting, Going Solo & His Band’s Future

Kristian Bush might best be known as one-half of Sugarland, but his career expands far beyond the award-winning duo. With Sugarland now on temporary hiatus (his bandmate Jennifer Nettles had a baby last year and is finishing a solo album), Bush isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

In fact, as he tells, this hiatus has turned into one of the most prolific times of his career. The Tennessee native welcomes the chance to focus on his own ambitions, chief among them his debut single as a solo artist, ‘Love or Money,’ released earlier this month in the U.S. (the song was released in Europe earlier this year).

Bush wrote the song with Jeff Cohen, whom he says he’s “known for years,” and they were joined by another writer he’d just met that day. “Jeff signed me to BMI and my first record deal in 1994,” Bush recalls. “He had suggested writing with Matt Thiessen. Matt has a band called Relient K, and he had recently had some hits with a band called Owl City.”

The song, which Bush says was written very quickly, was part of Bush’s quest to learn how to work with other writers from all walks of life. “I love writing, and this journey into country music and Nashville and this environment has been a journey of learning about collaborations. I’ve been a collaborator most of my life, but the art of the co-write is a different art in this town.”

Admittedly, Bush never imagined he would be able to record his own songs, let alone earn a paycheck doing it. For his family, who owned Bush Brothers Cannery (now Bush Beans), being a professional musician was the most unlikely of choices for anyone, but especially for him.

“Until I was about 11 or 12, I thought my fate was to run a cannery, because my granddad was going to give it to my dad, and my dad was going to have to give it to me, because I’m the oldest child,” he says.

His home was way up in the mountains, about as far removed from any modern-day civilization as he could possibly be, but music became part of his environment – although even he couldn’t see how far-reaching those influences would extend.

“I grew up in Sevierville, which was the home of Dolly Parton,” Bush explains. “And I grew up with music being something that’s either country music, or Appalachian folk music, or church music. That’s what I knew of as music.”


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