“Is there Christmas in space?” Brothers Lyndon (top) and Terrell Froese of From The Moon prepare some homespun Christmas songs. – Elke Werchonwoicz
Do they know it’s Christmas? If you’re asking Winnipeg musicians, the answer is yes.
Don Amero, Jodi King, Grand Analog, JP Hoe, House of Doc, The Liptonians, Oldfolks Home, Quinzy and From the Moon are amongst the handful of local artists releasing new Christmas recordings this holiday season.
“I thought it would be funny, ‘cause Christmas is an easy target,” Lyndon Froese of From the Moon said when asked why he first recorded Christmas music in 2006.
Each Christmas since then, Froese has gathered with his friends to write and record new Christmas music. This year he’ll record and release five or six more for free via a website he set up with his friends in pop-rock quintet The Liptonians: www.christmasatliptonia.com.
He admits that there’s an element of cheesiness to a lot of Christmas music, but embraces that when writing his own.
“I have no problem with writing terrible Christmas songs, whereas I have a problem with that at any other time of the year,” Froese said.
“Seeing how Christmas [has] changed into this celebration of consumption and, in general, a lot of things I dislike – that’s really what inspires me to make Christmas music. I don’t think you’d expect anything other than music that’s cheesy garbage to accompany that.”
Ricardo Lopez-Aguilar of Winnipeg electro art-pop outfit Oldfolks Home feels differently. When he wrote his first Christmas song earlier this year, We Won’t Cry at Christmas, he aimed to create something that would stand up with the rest of his recorded output.
“To me it’s kind of a big deal writing a Christmas song, ‘cause you grow up with so many of them,” he said. “You don’t want to write [a] bad Christmas song.”
Each week in December, Oldfolks Home will be releasing one Christmas song for free download to people who sign up for its e-mail newsletter – an original and three covers. Each song is coupled with an original work of art by a Canadian artist.
“I really like Christmas, so it was pretty fun recording all these songs,” Lopez-Aguilar said. “I might do it again.”
For the guys in pop-rock four-piece Quinzy, a new Christmas song is pretty much expected of them every December. Each year since starting its annual Quinzmas concert in 2003, the group has written and recorded at least one new Christmas song.
Quinzy singer-guitarist Sandy Taronno says that while he’s not religious, he’s fascinated by what Christmas has become – a weird amalgamation of pagan rituals, a Christian holiday and the winter solstice.
He’s used Quinzy Christmas songs like The Decemberwolf, What Did We Do Wrong and Feast to explore some of those themes.
“I think some of our best songs are our Christmas songs, actually, and we’re going to get around to releasing a Christmas EP,” Taronno said.
From the Moon, meanwhile, will be doing something different this year. Froese has taken the Christmas music he’s written and recorded in the past and used it to create a Christmas pageant. The pageant will be presented on Sunday, Dec. 13 at the Ellice Theatre.
“It’s the story of what Christmas would be like without Santa, and it’s dismal,” Froese explained. “It’s told from the perspective of a character who [later] becomes the ‘jolly man’ to save Christmas for everyone.”
“There’s dialogue, there’s narration, there’s several characters, a full band, back-up singers and costumes – everything you typically expect from a pageant,” he added. “There’s romance, robots, camels, rock ‘n’ roll guitars and a truly touching storyline.”