Holiday Jukebox EP Artwork (ChrisMannMusic.com)
Recording Artist and The Voice Season 2 finalist Chris Mann talked exclusively with RyeTheNewGuy.com about his new EP Christmas Jukebox. Holiday Jukebox is a new take on some of the beloved holiday songs you know and love but done differently this time. Chris takes the holiday classics we know and love and puts a modern twist on them by including new arrangements, harmonies, and vocal styling.
Chris has a very busy schedule ahead of him in the coming weeks: On Thursday, December 4th he will be performing his Christmas EP in LA and then starts a week-long guest spot with Love Actually Live after that. He then heads off the Michigan on December 13th for Holiday Pops: Chris Mann & The Midland Symphony Orchestra.
In the new year Mann returns to the East Coast and makes his debut at Feinstein's 54 Below with his show From Gaga To Gershwin. You can also expect to see him on the big screen in the new film Faith Based with Jason Alexander and Margaret Cho.
There is no stopping Chris Mann and everything he is accomplishing. As he says in our interview, hopefully the right part will come along for him on Broadway. Check out my exciting interview, below!
Keep up with Chris at ChrisMannMusic.com
Where did the idea come from to take on Christmas Jukebox in a genre bending way? You've changed up some of the classic sounds people know and have added new meaning to them. What was the idea behind this?
You know, the last time I did a Christmas record I did a very traditional symphonic, beautiful record that I loved. And my last solo project that I've been doing - Noise- has been more in the pop lane. So I kind of wanted to just continue where I'm at right now with my music, which is a bit more modern and do something that would be more of a mix up for the holidays.
We all get our share of the classics and at times maybe you need something to sort of mix it up a little bit and shake it up a little bit in between some of these classic songs. So that's sort of where the inspiration came. I wrote "Happy Holidays" first, which is the first song on there, and that kind of set the tone for the record.
But I did some vintage sounds, did some of the modern stuff, and then for “Auld Lang Syne” and “Up on the Housetop”, I was really just having fun, so hopefully people enjoy just sort of like the fun of it.
Yea, that’s what it sounds like, a fun album. There was such vast contrasts with the songs—“Auld Lang Syne” was a bit more classic and just stripped down, and then “Happy Holidays” was sort of this fun, funky new style. That was really cool!
I loved doing “Auld Lyne Syne”. It was sort of inspired by the vocoder treatment where instead of a cappella Scott Simon, the producer, then added the harmonies on the back end. I always loved singing that song. I also liked doing “Christmas Love” because I just thought the vocals and the chorus were so much fun and I'm excited to sing that in my concert in LA next week. I'll be doing that song and enjoying getting the crowd excited for that one.
What was the most challenging part of creating an EP like Christmas Jukebox that infuses such different genres that aren't really heard much today by people? Were you worried how people would respond considering everyone is use to the classics?
Honestly, what to call it was a challenge. Because it does sort of hop around and so that's where the jukebox idea came from, which made a lot of sense to me. So having it called Christmas Jukebox allows for me to let it skip around. And that, I think, was probably the biggest challenge. It wasn't so much that the songs sounded different, but allowing it to make sense conceptually, which I think it does when you look at it as a jukebox of five different tracks.
Chris Mann (ChrisMannMusic.com)
Was there a certain mindset you had, or was it just sort of going into the studio and playing around with what sounded right?
We were just kind of playing around. “Up On the Housetop” and “Auld Lang Syne” are both public domain so we thought lets a take public domain song and see how we can make it new. And yeah, I mean for sure, “Up On the Housetop” is like very new. Anyone who knows Scott knows that the way the song is done is right in his wheelhouse-- that sort of anthemic pop rock thing. I was definitely just along for the ride on that one.
Exciting! So what’snext for you and Christmas Jukebox? I know you’ll be in LA. Are you doing any more shows throughout the holidays for the EP?
So, the show in LA will be where I am doing this with Christmas Jukebox and a bunch of other things. And then after that I'm doing a week with Love Actually Live in LA which is going to be SUPER fun! I'm going to be doing a guest week with them. Then I go to Michigan on the 13th for the Holiday Pops Concert which will be more of a classic Christmas show and that wraps up stuff for Christmas.
Then in January I will actually be doing an entire East Coast run at 54 Below doing From Gershwin to Gaga stuff. I've never been to 54 Below and I haven’t been on the East Coast in a while so it will be cool!
Talking about the east coast… are there any plans for Broadway in the near future? Will we be seeing you don the Phantom mask again?
Haha, not that I know of. I'm definitely looking to return to the Broadway stage. It's just a matter of finding the right opportunity. So, hopefully we'll see!
Exciting! So, what’s next for you Chris?
Everything I mentioned seems pretty overwhelming for the most part. I'm actually sitting here with sheet music in my lap learning what I have to memorize through the rest of the year. Next year I'm going to be announcing more tour dates, so that’s the main thing I have for right now. I have a small part in a film coming out next year called "Faith-Based"- it has Jason Alexander, Margaret Cho and a bunch of other people as well. It's a comedy, so that's something I'm excited about and to see where that goes. But yeah, making new music, looking for the Broadway opportunity, and acting more is something I'm really looking forward too as well.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring performers/singers that really want to get their music out there?
Just put it out! I think that's a good example of what I'm doing with Noise and with Christmas Jukebox. It's very easy to create at this point, and just try to create as much as you can. I'm doing that now with my music videos -- just get it out there- because that is where artists like the Billie Eilish's pop through by just making music yourself and putting it out. That hasn’t always been my thing though, I always use to sit on things and think them through too hard and now I'm doing that lessons of just putting it out there.