Kristian Bush on Singing Outside of Sugarland

In recent years, Sugarland’s music has always been one part Jennifer Nettles and one part Kristian Bush . But now that both Nettles and Bush are working on solo projects while Sugarland is on a bit of a hiatus, they’ve both become their own lead singers.

For Bush, the public’s reaction to his singing voice has been one of the best parts.

“People will say, ’You sing? I had no idea.’ Or they’ll say, ’I love you, but I had no idea what you sounded like,'” he explained when we talked before his recent show in Chicago. “It’s kinda fun to have a secret like that even from someone you might know really well. And it’s a good secret. That reveal is fun.”

Obviously, singing — and singing without Nettles by his side — is the whole idea behind his solo project. But before Bush could hit the stage as the frontman, he had some songwriting to do. So I asked him what it was like to approach that blank sheet of paper without Nettles.

“Writing songs with Jennifer was really special because of our chemistry,” he said. “But this time, I was completely aware that the songs I wrote were not going to be served through a female’s voice. And I love it both ways. … It’s different now in how I approach a love song or a song about sadness or about betrayal.”

As for the live shows, Bush looks very comfortable taking the lead there, too.

“It’s not scary,” he said. “It’s exciting. I was very much of a wallflower when I first started playing. It was a combination of adolescence and anxiety, I guess. But once all those pieces unfolded, I just loved performing. Whether I’m with Jennifer or without Jennifer, it’s what I want to do every single morning when I wake up.”