As MATTHÙ, Kevin Bush shares his voice and state of mind on new EP 'Montana'
The sound of guitarist and producer Kevin Bush’s new project, MATTHÙ, isn’t a far cry from his work with his brother Will as sibling duo Immortal Girlfriend. But for anyone familiar with Kevin’s talents, it’s markedly different in ways that are both eye-opening and absorbing.
His debut EP, Montana ( available via Bandcamp), finds him using his voice (literally) and building an electronic music world softened by the more natural vibe of acoustic instrumentation. Bush felt the strong call to blend both sound environments, and his lyrics explore the similar depths and nuances of loving people and loving yourself instead of hiding from the world.
Just like its namesake, Montana is big in scope but is all about the effect those big landscapes and big moments have on the interior world. Bush sat down for an interview with 88Nine’s Erin Wolf and HYFIN’s Kim Shine to talk about his exciting new project and his plans surrounding it. You can watch/listen to it below or opt for the transcript we included for your reading pleasure.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Erin Wolf: So Kevin, who is MATTHÙ, exactly?
Kevin Bush: MATTHÙ is my middle name, spelled a little differently. Yeah, it's just me expressing myself, exploring different genres and going off of my own, like my solo voyage into artistry.
Kim Shine: Is this not like an alter ego? I mean, I know it's your middle name, but come on. It's a whole different person that you created here.
KB: I suppose. You know, I thought a lot about this. Um … I may be in a cowboy hat soon? Just keep your eyes open. I'm exploring. It's expanding.
KS: Did you create all the music and all the production for the EP Montana? Because I know you wrote the songs.
KB: I actually recorded a lot of the drum parts a long time ago, and I kind of just started using those samples when I was putting this together. I recorded it, mixed it and got it mastered, but put it out into the world.
KS: How long's that process?
KB: For this? Like, endless? It can get pretty detail-oriented as an audio engineer. We're listening for everything. But the songs came together in about a year.
EW: When did you start writing these songs as MATTHÙ? Was it at the height of Immortal Girlfriend? Immortal Girlfriend is still an active thing, but was there a quieter time for that project where you could devote a little extra time to your music just because of the situation of the world?
KB: I've always wanted to do something solo for a long time, and I think part of the work in Immortal Girlfriend was me expressing myself but through this very specific lens because I like that kind of music. But with this, there were no rules, so everything I love can go into it. Not so much like I was hiding behind other projects, but I totally throw myself all the way into stuff, so I’m all caught up into what this dream is. It's fun to do that for myself.
KS: I don't think we've heard you sing on any of the Immortal Girlfriend projects, so when I heard your voice on this, I was super surprised because you have a beautiful voice. The depth of it? It's great. Where did the inspiration to finally share your voice with us, where did that part come from? It's not just gonna be an instrumental project, or you're not gonna have other artists singing over your music. You are the one who's doing the vocals. Where did that inspiration come from?
KB: I guess I was finally making the music that I wanted to make. Like the sounds, it kind of just came naturally. It's not that I don't sing; it's just that I haven't sung on a project before. And even with that, there's a million ways to mic a voice and to record vocals, so it was all kind of an experiment. I hate saying that over and over again, but it really was like, “Let's try this,” or, “I wrote this. Let's try to sing it to this.” You know? That's all. That’s pretty much it.
KS: I want to know who's the better singer. Are you better than your brother?
KB: I'll tell you this: We both use a lot of auto-tune. Most recordings you hear nowadays are auto-tuned. Let’s be honest, you know, because it's gotta live beyond us, so we can be imperfect live. But a recording, in my opinion, should be the best version of it, even if it is fake. So, hey, that's not 100% me in there. I'll be honest.
KS: Thank you, T-Pain.
KB: Yeah, yeah, yeah
EW: To me, this EP feels like a melding of the electronic world with the acoustic world, and it's also a peek into a really beautiful, intimate environment, yet there's this really stark presence. What sounds and vibes did you want to explore with this particular project?
KB: Well it's funny, actually. I have a story. I was really into fingerstyle acoustic guitar where they're playing the bass and then the melody and the rhythm all at once, and I just fell in love with that kind of playing. I met my guitar idol, he was this French-Canadian dude. Amazing. I knew all of his music. He was just a big influence, and I met him in person, and our interaction wasn't very great, and it kind of put me off acoustic music for a long time. Like, I just kind of stopped playing and started dabbling in synthesizers and stuff.
This was long before Immortal Girlfriend, but I think coming back to that acoustic world naturally happened in this project; like the marriage made the most sense now that I think back on it. It’s a weird realization I just realized, actually.
EW: Were you kind of yearning to go back to basics to the original sounds that really made an impression on that you kind of skirted away from? Were you just like, “OK, I need to find a way to mix the two and balance out who I've become as a musician”?
KB: Yeah, most definitely. ‘Cause a synthesizer is like electricity that you can shape the signal of it and express yourself through it. But an acoustic instrument? It’s like … it's really locked in. And I think they both speak to me in different ways.
KS: What definitely spoke to me were the lyrics. I'm a big lyrics person, so whenever a song is good, even when it's not, check the lyric, right? And to me, each of the songs sounded like poetry, or they read like poetry and kind of like love poems. So the project felt like the span of a relationship. Am I going too deep with that? Or is this kind of us looking in on the arc, on the lifespan of a relationship?
KB: I like that. I like the way you put that ‘cause it wasn't intentionally written that way. A lot of the songs were just way out of order. But when you look at it that way, it's cool. That's what I love about art, ‘cause that wasn't necessarily intended, but someone else can get something more out of it, maybe. So, no, it wasn't intentional. But I mean, there's real love stories that I’ve got. I'm expressing myself.
KS: Are you talking to anyone or are you talking to just Montana, just the area … just a specific area there that just inspired you? Who are you talking to? What are you talking to? Give us the deets.
KB: Uh, how, how deep do you wanna go? I mean, you know, how much time do we got here?
EW: I wanted to know, too. The EP’s name is Montana. How did that particular place figure into things, creatively speaking?
KB: I first went to Montana at a time when there were dreams I wanted to achieve, but I was stuck in my job and not enjoying not going after the things that make me feel alive. And that was the ultimate get-out-of-your-comfort-zone where we hiked into the mountains. We stayed on this lake that was at the top of a mountain, and for some reason I couldn't put that together. I grew up next to Lake Michigan. Like, there's this giant lake that no one can see
For me at the time, it reminded me that you're small, and life is big, and you can go to any heights. The world is yours. Go explore it. And I think that trip really — it just changed everything. And I got back into electronic music. I got off pause and just started to go for it. So that place has a special place with me. The mountains do.
KS: Most projects have a takeaway message. What's the intention or what's that takeaway for your current fans and your new fans for this project?
KB: Do what you love. A lot of the songs are about love. Pursue that. Like loving people, loving yourself better, taking care of yourself. You are an individual, and you can do things that no one else can do, and you have to bring that to the table. And that's all I'm doing in this, you know? So just go bring your thing to the table, whether it's taking care of people, hosting an amazing radio show, you know? Go do it. We need you there. We need you in that position.
KS: Why do you think that message must be said over and over again? Because whether you speak to artists, whether you speak to just your parents, just anybody, there's always that message of “Make sure that you are true to who you are.” Why do you think that message has to be told so often, including with this project, which is a good message to share?
KB: I feel like nowadays people are — it's so easy to take other ideas. Like, what is TikTok? It's an app where people do a thing, and then millions of people do the exact same thing. They take the audio from it, they do the dance, they make the funny face, they scare their dog or whatever the challenge is. And individuality, or the lack of people being individuals, can make life dull.
I think that's what we're seeing. People are doing the same things. They think they have the same path as other people, and you’ll never fit into it. I have my voice, you know? I'm gonna sing with it ‘cause we need it. That's what spices life. I'm telling you, man. Anyway, this turned very motivational. I'm so sorry
EW: No, I love that!
KS: We like to get deep here!
EW: On that note, which song from this EP had the most impact on you, personally? What was a mantra or something that you were working through in your mind that needed to get out in a song? Was there one in particular that was that for you?
KB: I would say I have two. The song, “Fond,” the last song.
KS: Love that song.
KB: Cool. That’s probably the most personal, I feel, ‘cause it was almost data, even though it could read like a love note or whatever. It was more of: I'm looking at myself, and what areas am I not being 100? We can hide from other people, but we can hide from ourselves, too. So that’s kind of that song. It's that exclamation point.
But “Herbivore,” for me — just the song, the textures in it, the way it sounds, especially the first 40 seconds or so. Just the way it made me feel helped start the rest of the project. Everything kind of came into place when those things clicked for me.
EW: That was the one that spoke to me most, too. I was just like, “Dang, this is something I want to explore more.” That was the first song I heard, and it left a really good impression. So I think whatever you were going for, Kevin, you achieved it on that one.
KB: Thank you.
KS: It'll be nice to see how other people react to it. ‘Cause when you think of Immortal Girlfriend, “Par For You,” to me, was the one that was most closely aligned to the group sound. But everything else is totally, totally you, so that's awesome.
KB: Thank you.
EW: We both want to know: Is this gonna be just a studio project, or are you planning any shows? Live events? Gonna have a band? Videos?
KS: Yeah, I want visuals, man. I want visuals, OK? “Others”? Oh my god. From the group
KB: Oh man, we gotta work with those guys again. Shout out Bash Films. Thanks again. They set the bar high, man.
Yeah, I would hope. I have a few things in the works. You don't want to count your chickens before they hatch, you know, but I would definitely like to play live next year. I don't know what that's gonna look like yet. I'm still exploring that. So if you know any marching bands or, I don’t know, I have no idea. It could be anything: shows, visuals, all that stuff. Just keep an eye out, keep listening, share it with your loved ones this holiday and, yeah, we'll see.
KS: Merry Christmas, here’s MATTHÙ!
KB: Yeah, it’s already Christmas!