"I love that happy, sad feeling in music. I'm really attracted to. It comes out when I'm writing quite a bit," Hunt told PEOPLE at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas on Saturday

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Sam Hunt attends the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival on September 18, 2021 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Credit: Sam Morris/Getty

It's no secret that musicians often write songs about their experiences and people they know, but that's not Sam Hunt.

"When I write songs, I'm really intimidated to write songs about people I'm really directly involved with. My songs tend to be an amalgamation of a lot of different experiences," he told PEOPLE at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas on Saturday. "You know, you pick up things from movies and culture, so I just sort of soak all that in. And it comes out in a song, but rarely is a song directly about somebody who's in my life at that moment."

He will, though, get inspired by people in general.

"My songs come through sort of this osmosis that comes from being around people who are going through things," he said. 

His newest single, "23," isn't necessarily about anyone, but it's a nostalgic song, a topic Hunt is very familiar with.

"I'm always nostalgic. I'm always thinking about the past," he shared. "I love that happy, sad feeling in music. I'm really attracted to. It comes out when I'm writing quite a bit."

On Saturday, Hunt performed at the second night of the music festival. The show was just the latest stop during his current tour, his first legitimate tour in two years. Of course, quarantine prevented him from being on the road in 2020. But, on the bright side, the pandemic actually aided in his songwriting.

"You know, sitting still around the house not having anything to do but reflect last summer can easily take you down that nostalgia road, and that's what happened," he explained. "Last year I spent a lot of time thinking about the last five, ten years of my life."

Much of that time included his wife of more than four years, Hannah Lee Fowler, who often heard him crafting songs. When asked if he can use his voice and guitar to get in her good graces when he's in the doghouse, Hunt laughed, "No, that trick doesn't work anymore. It may have once upon a time, but not anymore."