Matt Bushman, a 27-year-old Reno native, is all too familiar with the highs and lows of navigating life in your twenties. The singer-songwriter’s debut album Past Ten, is his take on the trials and triumphs of heartbreak, late nights spent wondering what could have been done differently and the process everyone goes through to find out who we are and who we want to be.
Music has always been in the back of Bushman’s mind, and after taking some time away to pursue an accounting degree from Westminster College, he found his way back to the Biggest Little City.
“Reno will always be home, and if you grew up here, it somehow has a way of pulling you back,” Bushman said. “For me, I think that’s a good thing.”
Bushman started his musical journey in 2017, when he quit his job and decided to focus on songwriting full time. He draws mainly from pop and indie-folk influences, but listeners of the album will hear unexpected elements like sax instrumentals and even some turntable scratching.
“I think it came at a time where I had bottled some emotions up but just didn’t really take the time to understand what they meant,” Bushman said. “Ever since I can remember, there has always been a guitar around, but, for me, songwriting probably came about three years ago when I thought I had some stuff to say. That release in expression just happened to be through songwriting at this point in my life.”
His track, “Playing With Fire,” was released as a single in 2018, and has had some airtime on local radio stations. It’s a song about getting comfortable with a new situation or person—and ultimately getting burned. Despite this, the trials of love can be exciting, and one can easily fall back into risky situations.
“I wrote [it] after having some long Reno nights, which most of us have, where we go out not really sure what we’re looking for, but use the party scene to try and find it,” said Bushman. “Whether it’s to find connection or commonality in people, a sense of belonging, or just an escape from the outside world, it usually isn’t the safest place to find it.”
The tracks “Wishing Well,” and “Told You So,” follow the same upbeat rhythm—both optimistic songs with melancholy undertones that comment on both the good and the bad that comes with finding love. They bridge his pop sensibilities with a slower, more deliberate feel.
“I enjoy writing songs that are upbeat, but also really enjoy producing ballads,” Bushman said. “I don’t think a more pop-geared production would’ve done justice to the story.”
Bushman released Past Ten on Dec. 15. He said it’s a call to millennials who find themselves over-thinking love and doubting their abilities, but still hold on to the possibility of being a winner in the end with somebody by their side.
“Honestly, I just want it to be relatable and hopefully stir up some kind of emotion, who knows what that might be,” Bushman said. “But the song is just the bottom of the iceberg.”
Bushman is working on West Coast tour dates for 2019 and is already making plans to record a new album. Listeners can find the music video for “Playing With Fire” on YouTube, and Past Ten is available on Spotify and Apple Music.