It’s easy to see what makes Burette and Gabrielle Douglas an indie music power couple. Like the reticent genre they find themselves a part of, the pair are humble, quirky and have zero frills. They both speak in voices that register as something slightly louder than a whisper — akin to the sleepy vocals that occupy their records. They ask the rhetorical “you know?” at the end of most statements as if requiring that nod of a listener’s head as affirmation, yet they can wax poetic on almost any topic. Burette has shaggy hair, wears glasses and earth tones, while Gabby has short hair and digs gold pants. Yet, they find themselves making a big mark in Cowtown’s music scene.
“I feel like sometimes they want to put a brand on Fort Worth music a little bit,” Burette says. “A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, a little hat and all that kind of stuff. You know, it looks very good in pictures and all that stuff.
“But, I mean, we just do what we do, and hopefully, it rises to the top.”
Fronting Dallas-based Buck Jones for a few years as a means to wet their whistles, the duo wrote and recorded their new music venture’s first album, the self-titled The Cush, before packing their guitars and relocating to Burlington, Vermont — as they describe it — “for the hell of it.”
The Cush is chock-full of meandering, luscious dream pop numbers that advertise a band both finding their voice and ready to get the hell out of wherever they were. It’s a strange yet enjoyable dichotomy.
“We were starting this new project, and we felt like we weren’t too excited about just doing it in Dallas again,” Burette says. “Because we just did all that. Let’s go somewhere new; let’s do something new. We didn’t want to be in the city.”
“We grew up in Texas,” Gabrielle says. “And we just turned 30, and Buck Jones had sort of fizzled out, and so it was just this fresh step.”
Their sophomore effort, the aptly titled A New Appreciation for Sunshine, is what they call their Vermont album. A wintry meditation on their new habitat, where they shacked up with other artists who took refuge away from the hubbub of inner-city pressures and spent weekends touring through the Northeast in a recently bought van — what every person who fancies themselves a musician romanticizes.
And this is far from the only album with a strong geographical tie. Following a 2016 European tour and a brief spell at a studio on the Isle of Man — the scenic, hill-adorned enclave off the coast of Ireland — the band put together some songs inspired by the region and released an EP, Isle of Man (and Wife).
So, if geography has such an effect on their music, what does their latest effort, 2016’s Transcendental Heatwave say about Fort Worth — beyond the title’s obvious ode to North Texas summers?
Heavier, experimental yet, oddly, more accessible, much like Fort Worth, The Cush seems to work solely in contradictions. It’s a city on the precipice of an art explosion, but it’s also comfortable in its own skin and revels in its distinct cowboy culture.
The Douglases made their way back to North Texas in 2010 and opted for the laid-back vibe of Fort Worth over a return to Dallas.
“We could’ve gone to Austin or anything like that, but we figured coming from Vermont, Fort Worth is a little more laid-back,” Burette says.
From Dallas to Vermont to Fort Worth, the band’s stir craziness affects far more than their residence but makes its way on their albums, too. While some musicians remain within a comfortable tempo and pride themselves on having a particular “sound,” The Cush is more adept to change than riding a singular wave.
“We try not to ever repeat ourselves,” Burette says. “A lot of times people are real prolific, but a lot of their stuff kind of sounds the same, you know? I would just rather take time and have every album be unique.”
“Yeah, it just naturally evolves,” Gabrielle says. “We’re kind of changing up our process right now, where we have musicians coming in with new songs and working on them from the ground up. Before, it’s always been he and I writing and recording a lot of the parts.”
While still in the arduous process of recording their new material, the band at least has some inkling as to how the new album will sound once completed. And, in classic Cush fashion, it sounds nothing like you would expect.
“I got into some old metal, which I never listened to,” Burette says. “And I sort of liked the way they had these long, sprawling tunes. You know how they’re kind of all over the place? I kind of got influenced by that a little bit.”
The band will make a stop at South by Southwest before taking the stage on the first day of this year’s Fortress Festival, April 27, where they’re one of several acts representing Cowtown.
“We’re really excited,” Burette says. “They just out of the blue sent us an email asking us to play. No politics or anything, you know? They just recognized something that we were doing, which is really cool. It makes you feel good.”