Maybe it’s what they call the new math. Or it could be a chemistry lesson transposed for a musical mindset.
Either way, it’s a logical proposition. Take two veteran artists, fuse their skills in equal measure and witness what results — one exceptional partnership capable of some sumptuous songs.
That pairing certainly applies to the Hush Kids, a duo consisting of veteran singer, songwriter and recording artist Jill Andrews (as well as a former member of the once-popular Knoxville-based band the everybodyfields) and Peter Groenwald, a well-regarded composer, producer and in-demand Nashville musician. Originally introduced to one another by their respective publishers for the purpose of co-writing songs, they also developed a firm friendship based on the fact that they’re both parents and share a common appreciation for lovely, lilting melodies given an adept execution.
Their first — and to date, only — album, “Hush Kids,” was released last fall. However the two continue to nurture solo careers while lending support to the other’s efforts as well.
“It’s added another layer to the cake,” Groenwald said when asked how they shuffle their creative endeavors, domestic duties and their shared interests. “We each have children, so we know how to arrange the logistics to fulfill our obligations at home.”
Andrews said the ability to divvy up their time also has evolved naturally.
“We were doing all of our work as best as we could in all of those worlds,” Andrews said, describing the time spent leading up to the album. “Hush Kids was taking front and center, and it still is. Things kind of vacillate between Hush Kids’ world and our solo worlds.”
Groenwald concurs, emphasizing the importance that scheduling plays in the process.
“We have to juggle our release schedules a little differently than the normal band or solo artist would do,” he said. “It’s two different cycles. We did our thing and did a lot of press around it, but now it’s been a couple of years since Jill had her own record out, so that means it’s now time for a new main focus. We’re still concerned about pushing Hush Kids in the right direction, but we’re also tending to the other things going on in our lives.”
When it’s mentioned that it sounds like a somewhat challenging proposition keeping all that activity going, Andrews immediately agreed.
“We put all of our resources, time and heart into one thing and see that through, and then we put all our resources, time and heart into another thing,” she said. “We just try to stay balanced.”
Groenwald agreed, but also insisted that the multitasking has its benefits.
“I think it’s made things stronger, because in recent months we’ve made time to focus,” he said. “Jill can go out and do a tour and focus on her shows, and that makes it stronger when we get back together. As the saying goes, any challenge that doesn’t kill you makes you better.”
Andrews agreed. “It hasn’t killed us yet,” she said with a chuckle.
Groenwald also admitted that there was some discussion about his involvement in Andrews’ upcoming album. To keep separate identities intact, they wondered if it would be best to stay out of each other’s way when a Hush Kids project isn’t involved. They eventually decided
they could collaborate without conflict or confusion.
“We already know we can play together, so why wouldn’t we sing on a song together,” he said. “It might seem unusual, but it’s awesome, so who cares? I don’t think the perception would matter to anyone.”
Andrews said that the distinction doesn’t matter at all. “Peter is one of my favorite singers,” she said. “The songs that he’s contributed to on my new record have been really, really awesome. He played some piano and also did some harmonizing. It’s really cool, but it’s definitely a separate thing.”
On the other hand, Groenwald sees no blurring of boundaries whatsoever.
“Jill’s album is very personal to her,” he said. “Our record is very personally ours. In writing our record, we got to know each other very well. It wasn’t just about our co-writing.”
The scenarios are distinctly different, Andrews said: “For the Hush Kids record, we wrote everything together. On my record, I wrote with other people and by myself. I wrote two songs with Peter, but it’s really my material. The songs have an intent and purpose. My plan was always to make more music on my own.”
Despite the challenges, the two said they’ve found the right balance.
“Peter and I both had established careers before we ever met each other,” Andrews said. “Peter knew that I wouldn’t forget about my solo career, and I never thought he’d forget about his. We love the musical partnership, but we’re also good friends and we respect each other a lot. We both want the best for each other. Sometimes that involves what we’re doing together, and other times it’s about respecting that person and encouraging them to do what they want to do.”
Given the soothing sound they create in tandem, the Hush Kids handle seems a natural. However Andrews said that at first there was some misconceptions.
“A lot people think our name is Hush Kids because we were trying to tell our kids to be quiet. The reason we chose that name is because we do sing in hushed tones. That’s exactly how I would describe it. Quieting down, calming down, being present ... that is definitely a theme in many of our songs. It can be challenging to be in the moment these days.”