Analogue Music | Hush Kids

Hush Kids

By Matt Conner

It's the friendship and musical chemistry. It's the personal feel and a bit of intuition. It also helps that Peter Groenwald is good at following through.

When Jill Andrews first brought up the idea that the pair should set aside the requisite time and effort to start their own band, he was in. The couple songs they'd written to that point were "special" unto themselves, different from the dozens of other songs both artists write throughout the year as songwriter and producer in Nashville. And in a town where "we should work together" is a throwaway phrase, both Andrews and Groenwald were committed to making this one stick. 

Hush Kids is the end result, a new musical partnership founded on authenticity and creativity. The thematic material might be heavy, but the pair keep things light in the studio and our interview, as we sought to find out what makes this duo tick more than other musical options each one could have chosen. 

Analogue: I know you both work with enough other songwriters that you likely could have pulled off a side project like this at any point. What made this the right pairing for you to carve out the time and space to make this one work?

Peter: It's almost the same thing as seeing a friend when you say, "We should have dinner soon" but then you never do. This time we did it. [Laughs]

Jill: I think we just felt like the music is too good. You're right, Matt. I personally know that we both work with so many other songwriters. I've had other people say we should start a band and I think, "Yeah, cool." But with Peter, we listened back to the music we'd written, which was just a few songs, but they felt really different and special to us. It felt like something we needed to pursue. 

Peter: We haven't really talked about this, but there were about six months there where we planned on starting a band, but we couldn't figure out a name and there were a couple other things we were working against. Then we came back together and that's when it really got into go mode. It's weird to think about, but it was pretty easy. Jill says, "Let's start a band" and it just went from there. 

Jill: Peter, I also think you're really good at following through on things.

Peter: Well, that's a good trait. I'm glad you think that. [Laughs]

Analogue: I know it's likely hard to pin down some concrete description on something abstract, but Jill you used the words "different" and "special" to describe the music. Is there something more tangible than that where you can sort of help differentiate the music you make with Peter compared to elsewhere?

Jill: There is this thing when writing with other people where it's this give-and-take process where you add something then they add something. On these songs, I felt like they were very much me and very much Peter. They feel very personal. That's a hard thing to accomplish when you're writing with someone else. That's why, to me, they feel so special.

Peter: Also, once we decided to start a band, it had a bit of a different purpose. As Jill said, we both write with people every day or at least a few times per week. It's not to say those songs aren't special in their own way, but once they're done, those songs go on the list of songs you've written versus becoming part of a bigger project. I felt like I had a chance here to sink my teeth into the writing a bit more. It was just a different framework or mindset. 

Analogue: You mentioned coming up with a band name earlier and I have to say that I actually really like The Hush Kids. Yet it's not lost on me that choosing a name would likely feel daunting given that every name is already taken. True?

Jill: Oh god, every band name has been taken. 

Peter: Gosh it's the hardest thing. It's way harder than naming a child. We both found one that we both loved, but it's such a weird experience to go through. It took us a while and that was partially we were both busy...

Jill: But we also wanted something we could both get behind. It took us like a year. [Laughs]

Analogue: What kept you from writing together and then allowing just one of you to record it for your own solo album? Was that ever something you wrestled with?

Jill: We decided early on in writing together to form the band, so every time we got together, we were always writing for our own thing. 

Peter: There was the one you tried to keep and I said, "No, we've gotta do that one."

Jill: [Laughs] Yeah, that did happen. I'm still working on my own solo stuff too, but we're also giving this some time. 

Analogue: I want to ask about that, then. It takes a lot of work to generate momentum and a spotlight on your own stuff, so it strikes me as a major decision to start working on something that's a blank slate. Was there any wrestling with that or do you not even worry about that kind of thing?

Jill: With most things in my life, I throw myself into them and then think about it later. [Laughs] A lot of times that doesn't serve me well, but I haven't wrestled with it too much. Have you, Peter?

They feel very personal. That's a hard thing to accomplish when you're writing with someone else. That's why, to me, they feel so special.​

Peter: No, I'm very good at following a lead. We've told this story a couple times, but Jill was nursing his daughter when we were listening back to the second song we'd written literally with her guitar in front of her baby. That's when she said, "We should start a band." I thought I would be the lazy bum if I don't say yes. But as she said, she's good at just going for things, so that gives me courage. 

I've been in the background producing and writing for the past 10 years, so I'm not used to being the one performing, but there was no looking back. We have a team around us who are all super supportive, who make sure that whatever we do is the best that we can do it. I think when you have the support, it makes it pretty easy to not have those second thoughts.

Analogue: Does that difference in backgrounds help you in any way?

Peter: Yeah I think it helps in a couple ways. Jill has very, very clear ideas and I have clear ideas of the way I think things should sound. One thing we've gotten good at is trusting each other but also sticking up for something we believe in. There are times that we have to agree, so you have to bend. You have to learn that no matter who you're working with, but it works really well here. 

Jill: Having Peter be really good at the production aspect is really helpful, because oftentimes he's just really good at knowing how to make dynamic builds in songs. He knows how to make that work. I know when it's not working, but it can be hard for me sometimes to know what instrument is missing or what is too loud. That's been really helpful. On the performing side, we're little babies at it together. [Laughs] I have a history of it and Peter does too, so I'm excited to get out and play some shows. Singing together is just so fun. It's kind of amazing. 

Analogue: Is this going to get your primary energy then?

Peter: That's the goal. She's got two kids and I have one, so it's not like we have a whole lot of time, but we're definitely making the time. 

Jill: Yeah, we're still figuring things out in terms of touring, but we both want to hit the road and do it in a thoughtful way.