Atwood Magazine Presents Mistletones: 2023’s Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. 1!

Atwood Magazine's Mistletones 2023, Pt. 1
Atwood Magazine's Mistletones 2023, Pt. 1
To celebrate “the most wonderful time of the year,” Atwood Magazine’s Mistletones features fresh holiday/wintertime tracks and exciting covers of beloved classics. December has a knack for bringing out some of the most poignant, tender, and celebratory music, and we want to highlight that excitement by showcasing new and alternative holiday greats! Spice up your holiday season with songs you can listen to now and cherish in the years to come.

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Mistletones by Atwood Magazine

Spark up the lights, strike up the band
Fill up my glass and take my hand
I hope this night will never end
Thank god, it’s Christmas time again
Let’s kiss under this mistletoe
Toast to the ones that we let go
I hope this night will never end
Thank god, it’s Christmas time
Oh, Christmas time again
– “Christmas Time Again,” Nina Nesbitt

The most wonderful time of year has come around once again, and we’re ready to ring in the festivities with a fresh batch of holiday songs and winter wonders!

This year’s holiday season is marked by a resounding sense of appreciation, hope, excitement, and yearning: Many of our 2023 Mistletones picks capture what we might deem that “classic” holiday cheer – evoking feelings of togetherness, connection, and love – whilst just as many take on a more nostalgic or wistful tone, aching with the sorrow and loneliness that often accompanies the holidays.

Spark up the lights, strike up the band, fill up my glass and take my hand,” Nina Nesbitt sings in her new song, channeling the spirit of Christmas and all the excitement that comes with the holiday season. “I hope this night will never end, thank God, it’s Christmas time again.”

Whether we’re basking in the blue glow of ALA.NI’s “Christmas Cheer” and “Now I Believe,” soaking up the sun with folk-pop trio WILD’s “Omw 2 U” and “True Christmas” and Beth // James’ new EP Christmas at the Burchills, vibing out to Amerigo Gazaway’s lo-fi hip-hop reverie Another Christmas Album, or dreaming away the day with Aaron Taylor’s enchanting “If This Christmas Isn’t White” and Deanna Petcoff’s “Can I Spend Christmas With You,” all of this year’s Mistletones manage to embrace the spirit of this special season – lighting a fire deep inside us with captivating soundtracks and heartwarming reflections on life, happiness, and the people who matter most to us.

If this Christmas isn’t white
If there are no Christmas lights
If the gifts don’t come in time
I know we’ll be just fine
If this Christmas isn’t white
We don’t need the mistletoe
We don’t need Rudolph’s red nose
If it’s not a silent night
I know we’ll be alright
If this Christmas isn’t white
Let the snow fall, let the bells ring
Let the angels of the skies sing ’tis the season
We have reason to be merry
– “If This Christmas Isn’t White,” Aaron Taylor

Come dwell with us in the depths of Ben Abraham’s “Don’t Wish Me Merry Christmas Til I’m Home” and Sunflower Thieves’ hauntingly beautiful “It’s Not Like the Christmas Films.” Soar to great holiday heights with Odetta Hartman’s “Christmas Together (Maybe This Year),” Maddox Jones and Great Adamz’ “It’s Christmas Time” and Mint Simon’s “Get Together.”

We hope these songs help inspire a sense of community and connection, love and togetherness for all who listen. This year’s Mistletones submissions are so great in number, and these songs are so special, that we’ve chosen to split them up into multiple features. See below as artists from around the world share what the holiday season (and holiday music) means to them, and listen to our Mistletones Holiday Songs playlist on Spotify.

From our family to yours, happy holidays and happy new year!

Love,

Mitch Mosk, Editor-in-Chief

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Featured here are WILD, Nina Nesbitt, Aaron Taylor, ALA.NI, Deanna Petcoff, Laufey, Amerigo Gazaway, Ben Abraham, Sunflower Thieves, Maddox Jones & Great Adamz, Odetta Hartman, Beth // James, Imogen Clark, Mint Simon, Ballsy, Luke Beling, Will Knox & néomí!

Dive into these songs and our holiday interviews!

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:: WILD ::

“Omw 2 U” & “True Christmas” 

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs, and how does music impact your holiday experience?

WILD: We all grew up celebrating Christmas with our families in smaller suburban towns. Zach from Worcester, MA, Tyler from Chaska, MN and Lauren from Gresham, OR. Some of our favorite holiday songs are: “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” “Blue Christmas,” and anything Michael Bublé sings. Listening to the classic holiday songs with family while you bake cookies and spend time with loved ones is the best feeling.

What inspired you to record your own holiday songs, and how did you go about making them your own? How do they capture the holiday spirit and season, for you?

WILD: We were definitely inspired by other classic Christmas songs. “True Christmas” is kind of a play on the Elvis song “Blue Christmas.” We wanted something that felt classic and cozy, but still felt like us. I think it’s about being with the ones you love that makes Christmas what it is. So it captures the spirit in that way and we hope it can be listened to at family gatherings during the holiday season.

“Omw 2 U” actually has a funny story. We originally wrote it for a circle K (the gas station) ad, and then we had the idea to swap some of the lyrics out and add sleigh bells to make it more Christmas-y. Then Walmart wanted to use it for an ad, and so we decided to put it out with the Walmart ad!

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your songs bring to the table?

WILD: I think they bring warmth and joy to people, and that’s all any of us can ask for! There’s a ton of holiday songs and they’re mostly the same theme – which is kind of the point of them – but I think ours is unique in our own way and will last.



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:: Nina Nesbitt ::

“Christmas Time Again”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Nina Nesbitt: I am a little bit unhealthily obsessed with Christmas… as soon as Halloween is over, that’s it for me. I start making Christmas crafts and listening to songs from that moment. I have so many favourites, but “Fairytale of New York” and “All I Want for Christmas” are classics.

It’s pretty much all I listen to when I’m not writing my own music, I feel like it’s a good palette cleanser for whatever I’ve been working on as it’s usually so different and joyful! That is, until, I wrote my own Christmas song.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Nina Nesbitt: I’ve wanted to write a Christmas song forever! Finally – one day in June last year – I was taking a shower and pretty much the entire lyrics and melody entered my brain! It was then a case of arranging them all and making the song come to life.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Nina Nesbitt: It’s very narrative and story telling, so I think you really get a strong visual in your head of what the song is about. It’s basically a whole Christmas journey from start to finish. The drive up, the anticipation, the nights out, the awkward conversations with distant relatives and family friends, the hangovers and more. I wanted something that felt very real with a bit of dry humour thrown in there. Christmas isn’t always bells and whistles.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your songs bring to the table?

Nina Nesbitt: I think it’s an honest account of Christmas… sometimes holiday songs can feel detached from reality and make everything out to be perfect but I wanted to write something people could have a laugh while listening to because they related.



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:: Aaron Taylor ::

“If This Christmas Isn’t White”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs? How does music impact your holiday experience?

Aaron Taylor: Growing up, we never really got into the holiday spirit until the very last moment. But we always had fun and partook in a lot of the standard ways of doing it. “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway and Mariah’s O Holy Night are my personal favourites.

Music is always on in the background or we’ll sing carols around the piano. They’re fun to play and all have really great writing.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Aaron Taylor: It wasn’t a conscious decision. I remember being sat at the piano at home a few days prior to Christmas and humming an idea which I recorded on my phone. I forgot about it until last summer and made an effort to finish so we could get it out this year!

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Aaron Taylor: Lyrically, I feel like it taps into everything we associate with Christmas – it references Rudolph, mistletoe, angels, the tree, snow etc. but musically it’s catchy and enhanced by the strings which give a classic Christmas sound.

I feel like “If This Christmas Isn’t White” is unique in that it almost is an anti-Christmas song. It talks about how even if we don’t have what typically makes Christmas special we’ll be fine and have a good time. If you look a little deeper there’s a lyrical undertone that references the ongoing cost of living crisis and global warming and that makes it a bit of an outlier as a Christmas song. It’s still very heartwarming and traditionally special though.



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:: ALA.NI ::

Christmas, Vol. 2 EP – ft. “Christmas Cheer,” “You Broke My Heart (On Christmas Eve),” “Now I Believe,” & more!

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs? How does music impact your holiday experience?

ALA.NI: I don’t always have the best relationship with Christmas. I went from believing I saw Santa on his sleigh from my bedroom window at the age of 5, (I really did see him), to experiencing a kind of distorted Christmas when my parents divorced. I had to split myself into two. I’d spend a quiet Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my Dad and would have to leave just as he was making his traditional lobster tail Christmas brunch and then be transported over to my mum’s very large family for the second part of the day. Lots of feasting and singing and merriment. I always felt so torn, with a sense of guilt. So once I could create my own Christmas from about the age of 16, I would just fly off somewhere and spend the holidays abroad on my own terms. Create a whole new experience by traveling somewhere new.

I do however LOVE Christmas songs. Always have. We used to have a Christmas choir at Sylvia Young Theatre School and every year we’d go out onto the streets or perform at functions to raise money for charity. There is something so magical and comforting about these songs. My favorite is “Let it Snow. I can smell the fire, feel the kisses and hear the snow falling.

How does music impact your holiday experience?

ALA.NI: It’s EVERYTHING!!! It sets the mood. I like to make Christmas playlists. Whether you are going around the shopping aisle, listening to a choir sing in a church, it is all about the sound of Christmas for me. I remember one year a boyfriend bought me a Technics record player and a stack of old Christmas vinyls, (Nat King Cole, Elvis, Snoopy……) and we sat and listened to those, whilst playing board games and drinking mulled wine and pepperkaker biscuits. He was Swedish. One of the best Christmas’s I’ve had. Simple and cosy.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

ALA.NI: I have made a vow to myself that I will try to write original Christmas music every year. I find it really enjoyable to write in this genre, melodically and lyrically. It’s almost like you can creatively exaggerate fantasies and be as cheesy as you want with no judgement because “IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!!”

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

ALA.NI: This selection of songs on my 5 track EP, 3 originals and 2 covers, have the tone of being a “blue” Christmas, with brushes of optimism and hope. In “You Broke My Heart on Christmas Eve” I write about someone having their heart broken in such a terrible way. It didn’t actually happen to me, but I’ve had to deal with a few broken hearts around this season. I did however fall in love with someone quite instantly at a Christmas party, the Swede who gave me the record player gift, so I wrote about that in “Now I Believe.”

I am defo not trying to compete with the likes of Mariah who is literally Ms. Claus. I’m simply making my own little contribution to the catalogue of music that creates the sound of Christmas year after year. If my music warms someone’s soul and touches a heart or two at this time of year, then I am a very happy music maker.



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:: Deanna Petcoff ::

“Can I Spend Christmas With You”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs? How does music impact your holiday experience?

Deanna Petcoff: I’ve always loved the holidays. For me, Christmas music is in heavy rotation exclusively as of the first week of December. Old school carols are my favourite: Ella & Louis, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and of course Elvis’ Christmas Album.

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” by Elvis, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Sinatra, “‘Zat You Santa Claus” by Louis Armstrong and, of course, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Bing Crosby is a particular stand out to me, specifically the version in Holiday Inn, an extremely problematic movie, wouldn’t recommend it, but that rendition of the song sticks with me. I even covered it a million years ago, which was technically my first holiday-themed release. I think I still have it up on SoundCloud somewhere. It was produced by Alex Laurie, who also produced my new one, “Can I Spend Christmas With You.”

Music is hugely important to me overall during every season. I like to make themed playlists for most occasions, mostly because I enjoy curating them. Especially with the fact that you can make collaborative playlists on Spotify with your friends. But music especially colours my holidays for sure. Every dinner or outing is accompanied by holiday music. It’s such an important part of the holidays for me and my family and friends too.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Deanna Petcoff: I actually never set out to write a Christmas song. It sort of just happened. In 2021, two of my friends had just started dating and then got stuck with COVID and couldn’t go home for the holidays, instead being forced to quarantine together, alone. I decided I would write them a song that would hopefully alleviate some of the sadness. They did end up spending Christmas together, taking care of one another. I thought it was very romantic. I really liked how the song turned out, it transcended just their experience. This year, I thought I would share it with anyone else who needs it. I wanted to capture that cozy softness of spending the season with someone you love.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Deanna Petcoff: The hope for me was that it would capture some of the delicate, wholesome feelings that come with being in love during the holidays. Everything can be sparkly and beautiful, and it’s easy to fall in love with someone because, frankly, it’s a romantic time. You’re thinking about family, you’re picking out gifts to bring joy to the people in your life, you’re sharing good food and it’s cold so you’re keeping warm together. I tried to envision what it would be like to be getting to know someone in that haze, and hoping that we both feel the same when the snow melts.

It’s about Christmas, but I really hope it transcends the season. It’s also about falling in love with someone new. For me, more recently, it’s about celebrating chosen family and keeping those you love close. The holidays are a lonely time for a lot of people, but I wanted to pay homage to the way we connect to one another and how they give your closest a reason to gather and be together.

Many classic Christmas songs, and most of the ones I mentioned, were written after WW2. They wrote about how hard it is to be apart while overseas or grieving loved ones during the holidays. You know, Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), comes to mind. Or even Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. That lyric “Faithful friends who are dear to us / Will be near to us once more.” That’s the feeling I want to evoke, certainly.

I think we’re going to see more holiday music about COVID and the isolation the we all felt at that time. I found it beautiful that many of us still managed and continue to manage to come together however we can. So I wanted to capture the old sentiment of togetherness in a way that was true to me today. I don’t think that’s revolutionary, but it’s important to remember, especially right now.



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:: Laufey ::

“Christmas Dreaming”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Laufey: I think the holiday season has always been really special to me because it’s a time where my family all gets together. Most of my family members live in different countries and cities so it’s special to have a time that we all get to be in one place. Some of my favorite holiday songs are Icelandic Carols – they just remind me of Christmases at home growing up in Iceland.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Laufey: Being a jazz singer, I’ve always felt that the holiday season is special because everybody starts to listen to jazz around the holidays so I definitely wanted to contribute to the library of christmas songs out there! I recorded the song with my producer Spencer Stewart in one day before my LA concert at his LA studio.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Laufey: We recorded a children’s choir for the song which I think perfectly captures the essence of the holidays. Innocent angelic voices in harmony! There are a couple of things that really capture the holiday spirit for me – Being with family, the smell of tangerines, the frosty bite in the air and the taste of icelandic Christmas cookies.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Laufey: A lot of Christmas songs nowadays try to take old holiday songs and put them in new costumes – I LOVE those songs but with my project I’ve tried my best to keep that timeless jazzy sound of Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald that reminds me most of the holidays!



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:: Amerigo Gazaway ::

Another Christmas Album – ft. “Christmas Staycation,” “My Favorite Things,” & more!

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs? How does music impact your holiday experience?

Amerigo Gazaway: The holiday season has always been an important part of my household. My father and my stepmom are jazz musicians, so around the holidays they would always get invited to perform jazz Christmas standards for family gatherings at schools, churches and events in the community. That also meant that we were listening to a lot of jazz, funk, soul, blues, and traditional Christmas music on the turntable around that time of year. Some of the records I remember listening to include Vince Guaraldi’s ‘Charlie Brown Christmas,’ Jimmy Smith’s ‘Christmas Cookin,’ and the various Motown Christmas compilations.

Another big part of the holidays for me growing up was listening to Beatle Bob’s annual Christmas mixtapes that he would hand-curate, press up and send to people on his mailing list. My dad, Gary ‘El Búho’ Gazaway (who’s gigs Bob would often attend), was on that list – and every year I would look forward to going to visit him and getting to listen to the new Beatle Bob Xmas mix.

For those who don’t know, Beatle Bob (who unfortunately passed away earlier this year), was a well known figure in the music community and a frequent attendee of concerts of all genres. He was widely recognized for his wild dance moves, Beatles-inspired haircut, 1960’s style suits, and of course, his spectacular Christmas mixtapes. These compilations featured a wide variety of obscure and rare novelty holiday songs spanning multiple genres, from Rockabilly to Reggae. They were also interwoven with various skits and interludes from old radio shows, holiday movies, jingles and other sources, which I always found fascinating because to me it sounded like something a hip-hop producer would do.

With “A Christmas Album ‘ and its follow up, I wanted to put my own spin on some of these holiday classics and also pay tribute to Beatle Bob (R.I.P.) and his mixes by including various skits and interludes from old Christmas records, movies and radio broadcasts. I actually ended up sampling some of my favorite songs from Beatle Bob’s mixtapes, including Rufus Thomas’ “I’ll Be Your Santa” and Brent Dow’s “Christmas in Jamaica,” among others.

How does music impact your holiday experience?

Amerigo Gazaway: Music definitely plays a big role in our holiday experience. I have a little portable turntable and a handful of classic Christmas records (including some of my own) that I like to set up next to the tree. We usually play holiday records while we’re cooking, baking, reading, during ‘arts and crafts’ sessions or just hanging out.

In my early ’20s, I used to work at a department store in the mall during the holiday seasons. So for a while there I really despised Christmas music. But as I got older and started digging deeper into sampling and vinyl, I discovered that there’s a whole world of unique holiday songs outside of the familiar classics that we tend to mostly hear on the radio.

Can you share more about one or two of your favorite songs off this album?

Amerigo Gazaway: Sure! Let’s start with “My Favorite Things,” a song which I like to think encapsulates the overall vibe of the album and the spirit of the season. It’s a light-hearted, upbeat track about the joys of Christmas time, covering topics from the excitement of being a kid on Christmas, to the nostalgia of being a grown-up with a child’s heart. I chose to make it the first song on the album, because I think it really helps set the stage for what’s to come.

Throughout the verses, I start by listing off some of ‘my favorite things’ and wishlist items while painting pictures of holiday scenes and referencing some of my favorite holiday movies/shows such as ‘Home Alone’, ‘A Christmas Story’, Christmas Vacation’ and even ‘Bob’s Burgers.’

This song also pokes fun at some common holiday tropes, like kids ‘sneaking a peek’ at their gift before Christmas, or neighbors competing for the most extravagant holiday decorations. It’s a fun, festive and celebratory track that captures the essence of seeing the world through the eyes of a child and reveling in the warmth of the holiday season.

Another track I’d like to talk about is “The Christmas Spirit(s).” In this modern, hip-hop inspired re-interpretation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel, ‘A Christmas Carol,’ I rap from the perspectives of three Christmas ‘spirits’ – AKA the ‘ghosts’ of Christmas past, present and future. As the song unfolds, we take the listener on a journey through time, showcasing a ‘glimpse of days forgotten’ and ‘a future yet to come’.

This track is very personal to me, because in a way I am speaking to myself at times (as is the case with many of my songs). It also puts a unique narrative twist on a timeless holiday classic, and it’s a poignant reminder of the importance of family, friendships, giving back and treating others with kindness.

How did “Christmas Staycation” come about?

Amerigo Gazaway: “Christmas Staycation” was inspired by reality in the sense that we actually are staying home for Christmas this year. My wife and I recently bought an apartment, and since we can’t afford to make a big trip overseas to visit family, we’re opting for a cozy holiday season at home instead. As much as we’d love to see everyone, we’ve also been secretly looking forward to some much-needed time to recharge and to celebrating our first Christmas at our new place while snuggled up on the couch.

This track is a humorous take on avoiding family events and celebrating the season in the comfort of your own home – trading holiday trips and busy shopping sprees for Netflix marathons, video games, and lounging in your sweatpants. Originally, working titles for the song included ‘Cozy Christmas’ and ‘Home For The Holidays’, but I ended up calling it ‘Christmas Staycation’ instead – a fun little play on words and a nod to one of my favorite holiday movies, National Lampoon’s ‘Christmas Vacation.’

After recording my verses, I reached out to Dillon because I felt like the concept and subject matter would be a perfect match for his witty and comedic style of rhyming. For those who are unfamiliar, Dillon is a talented emcee, producer, chef, and founder of the FULL PLATE record label based out of ATL. We met back in 2013 when we were both supporting acts for Souls of Mischief, and we’ve been friends and mutual fans of each other’s work ever since.

We’ve recently started collaborating on a handful of various projects (STRANGERS: Back to The Lab, my Cavendish Archived Remixed, etc.), so when I started working on the follow up to ‘A Christmas Album’ I thought he would be a perfect addition. He’s also featured on ’Be Your Santa,’ a ‘naughty’ Santa type track which features cleverly spun tales about the pursuit of a romantic interests fit for ‘cuffing season’. Make sure to only play this one after the kids have gone to bed! 😉

What inspired you to record your own holiday album – a second one, at that! –and how did you go about making it your own?

Amerigo Gazaway: The idea for A Christmas Album originally came about when I was watching the Organized Noize / Dungeon Family documentary. In the doc, they are being interviewed about how their careers started by having to do a ‘Christmas Album’ for LaFace Records (including the track “Player’s Ball” which became one of Outkast’s first major hit songs). It’s a fascinating look behind the scenes at the history of one of the most unique and influential production crews in hip-hop.

Anyways, everyone being interviewed in the documentary kept on repeating ‘a Christmas album’ over and over again, and I thought it was so funny that I sampled it and started making a ‘supercut’ every time someone would mention the phrase. That’s how the ‘intro’ for the first project was born. You can hear bits and pieces of the doc chopped up the first track of ‘A Christmas Album’ and throughout the second album as well.

Once I had the idea for the project, I began working on A Christmas Album itself. For inspiration, I would go on daily trips to the record store (Amoeba Berkeley, as I was still living in the Bay Area at the time) to dig for Christmas vinyl while listening to some of the old Beatle Bob mixtapes I had ripped from my Dad’s CD collection growing up. As I mentioned before, these compilations were very influential for me – as they not only contributed to my passion for Christmas music, but they also opened by eyes up to new ways of audio storytelling and compiling samples, soundbites, interludes, and songs to create a cohesive sonic experience. I think in a way, those Beatle Bob mixtapes helped plant the seeds for what would later become my Soul Mates project, as well as the ‘Christmas Album’ series.

The concept for doing a sequel was born when my wife suggested that I do ‘another’ Christmas album (after the success of the first one). When asked what I should call it, she paused, thought for a moment and replied with a grin “why don’t you just call it Another Christmas Album? We both laughed and I was instantly sold. However, I wanted to do something different this time – I am always trying to explore, push the envelope and try something new with each project that I create, so I started asking myself “how could I approach this album differently than the last one?”

The first album was more of an instrumental journey, an attempt to combine traditional and contemporary Christmas music with modern hip-hop production in a way that was fun, laid-back, and listenable for the whole family (without feeling too cheesy or ‘over the top’). I like to think that I succeeded in doing just that, but with the new album I wanted to switch things up a bit. So that’s when I decided that instead of being an instrumental album, this would be a fully produced rap/hip-hop album with ‘vocals attached’, as our de-facto narrator for the album Alex Rawls so eloquently puts it in “Another Christmas Intro.”

Sidenote: Alex Rawls, who was sampled on the intro/outro for Another Christmas Album (and throughout), hosts a fantastic podcast called ‘Twelve Songs of Christmas’ in which he interviews artists and musicians about Christmas music, covers, and remixes and the stories behind them. I was honored to be featured on the podcast awhile back (which is where his sound bites were pulled from) and would recommend the show for anyone interested in Christmas music or music history in general.

How does the album capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Amerigo Gazaway: The holiday season can encompass so many different emotions – it can be a time of joy, peace, togetherness, solitude, self-reflection and so much more. With Another Christmas Album, I wanted to encapsulate some of those feelings on wax while paying tribute to some of my favorite Christmas memories, records, books, films, soundtracks and stories.

The album fluctuates between songs that are light-hearted and festive like “My Favorite Things” or “It’s Christmas Time,” humorous or silly tracks like “Christmas Staycation” and “Blue Christmas,” and more introspective and message driven pieces like ‘The Christmas Spirit’ and ‘New Year’s Resolution’. Overall, I think it covers a well-rounded spectrum of various holiday experiences that are both personal and relatable to others. It’s a fun, hip-hop holiday adventure filled with laughs, moments of joy, reflection, nostalgia and hopefully some golden nuggets of wisdom to be found along the way.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your songs bring to the table?

Amerigo Gazaway: I like to think that these songs bring something new to the table by putting a unique twist to some of our favorite holiday classics – whether it’s the unexpected sample flip on songs like ‘Wreck The Halls’, or the lyrical content found on tracks like “Three Kings (feat. Napoleon Da Legend & Awon)” – a hip-hop reimagining of the biblical tale of the ‘three wise men’. This track weaves together historical and biblical references into a modern context, offering a new perspective on an age-old story (similar to ‘The Christmas Spirit(s)’).

These projects have been an interesting challenge for me as an artist, because in a way I see them as a natural extension of what I’m already known for doing – mashing up and combining things that people are familiar with in interesting ways to create something new and original. I think the hardest thing about Christmas music in particular is figuring out how to do it in a way that doesn’t come off as inauthentic, corny, or derivative. It’s a very delicate and daunting process to remix, cover or re-interpret any well-loved or ‘classic ‘piece of music, but I think Christmas songs are an especially tricky task because they are so near and dear to people’s hearts (even more so than some of our favorite pop songs).

I think Another Christmas Album is a good example of how hip-hop and Christmas can be integrated in a way that’s fun, original and pleasant on the ears for rap/hip hop fans and lovers of Christmas music alike. My hope is that the album resonates with listeners of all ages/genres, and that it gets added to their yearly rotation of non-traditional Christmas music. I’ve had many fans reach out to me about the first Christmas record, saying that it has become a holiday staple in their household – so if that were to happen with this one as well then I would be eternally grateful.

Last but not least, another great example of a well-executed hip-hop Christmas record is Mega Ran’s ‘A Very Random Christmas’, which was definitely a big inspiration for me while working on this project. ‘A Very Random Christmas’ was also produced by the talented DJ DN³, with whom I recently collaborated with for my game-inspired rap album ‘Radical Dreamers’. Other inspirations and ‘holiday hip-hop’ projects to look out for include Cookin’ Soul’s Christmas mixtape series (featuring holiday-inspired remixes of MF DOOM, Notorious B.I.G. and more) as well as the outstanding ’Low Budget Christmas’ compilation.



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:: Ben Abraham ::

“Don’t Wish Me Merry Christmas Til I’m Home”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs? How does music impact your holiday experience?

Ben Abraham: I grew up in a big family (there are 5 of us) so Christmas time was always a big deal with my siblings and extended family. My favourite songs are split between Christmas tunes and traditional carols. My favourite of each would be “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

Well as an artist it’s particularly impactful because I play a Christmas show every year. I’ve done it for 13 years in Melbourne and brought it to LA for the first time just this year. It’s my favourite show to play because I bring a bunch of guests out to perform songs with and it’s just a fun and beautiful celebration of the season with song.

Music in general is just so connected to the feeling of Christmas. As soon as the songs on the radio and in the stores start to change your body just knows Christmas is coming.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Ben Abraham: I think every artist wants to have a holiday themed song. Certainly as a songwriter it comes up from time to time — how do we crack the code on a meaningful and classic Christmas tune. For me it felt overdue with the number of years I’ve spent playing Christmas shows. I had the phrase, “It doesn’t feel like Christmas ’til I’m home,” bumping my head around for a while. I’ve even used it in a song with another artist, haha!

I’m Australian where Christmas time comes in Summer, and now that I live in the USA where Christmas is in winter, I watch my neighbourhood change and the city of LA embrace the holiday but it never quite sinks in that it’s Christmas until I’m back in my childhood city of Melbourne and hear the cicadas in the gum trees, feel the summer sun, and see all the familiar sights of my childhood. That’s when it feels like Christmas for me. So this song is my attempt to capture that feeling.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Ben Abraham: I think most adults can relate to the idea that the holiday season is a time for making the pilgrimage back to your childhood home to see family and remember the good times. Hopefully this song captures the feeling of yearning for that.

As for what it brings to the table, I don’t know really! I guess it has my voice on it which is a point of difference, haha. More than anything I just hope it tells a story that connects with anyone who enters the Christmas season abroad.



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:: Sunflower Thieves ::

“It’s Not Like the Christmas Films”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs? How does music impact your holiday experience?

Sunflower Thieves: We both love going back home, spending time with family and having the space to relax away from the everyday stuff, and Lily’s birthday falls on December 24th, meaning there has long been a tradition of some sort of gathering to celebrate, so there’s a lot to look forward to! We grew up in Derbyshire, which is home to beautiful countryside and so there’s a lot of time spent outdoors over the holidays.

However, as we’ve grown up, we’ve definitely felt the presence of the less magical side of it; beneath the commercialised picture-postcard image that everyone is super happy, busy and excited throughout, there can be a lot of loneliness, sadness and worry which is heightened during the festivities. Whatever you’re dealing with doesn’t just go away for the festive season, and in true Sunflower Thieves fashion, we wanted to address that in this song.

So, unsurprisingly, some of our go-to songs are The Staves’ ‘Home Alone Too’, Phoebe Bridgers’ numerous festive offerings, and Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’. Even our more ‘traditional’ choices aren’t that joyful really – we’re big fans of Fairytale of New York and Last Christmas.

How does music impact your holiday experience?

Sunflower Thieves: Music soundtracks every day, and it’s no different over Christmas! Our parents’ houses have always been filled with music, whether live, through the radio or vinyl records, and that’s one thing that will never change. There’s carol singing on the market square on Christmas Eve, 6Music on the radio in the car on the way to see family, and evenings with the fire on, soundtracked by Katie Melua’s ‘In Winter’ record. And then there’s that funny period between Christmas and New Year, where time seems to stand still a little, but in a necessary, comfortable way, which actually can create the perfect environment for songwriting. We’re planning some writing time for January already, which we’ll be ready for after alllllll of the above!

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Sunflower Thieves: “It’s Not Like The Christmas Films” came from a session in London with our friends Lexie Carroll and Jack Hardman in August this year. Jack has been working with us on the production of a bunch of songs that we’ll be releasing next year, and we’ve been friends with Lexie for a couple of years, but this was our first time writing all together.

Before we got together, Jack sent over the line, ‘It’s Christmas Day and everyone I love is dying,” which really set the tone, and we went from there! We’ve both lost important family members in recent years, and this feeling captured how overwhelming their absence can become at this time of year in particular, amongst all the merriment.

We wrote on the first day, and recorded on the second, and it was so much fun. Lexie wore a Christmas jumper for the occasion, a lot of grapes were eaten, and we knew we wanted to release this song as soon as we finished.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Sunflower Thieves: In the words of Phoebe Bridgers, “I like f*ed up holiday songs.” The mood of this song isn’t far off the tone of our writing throughout the rest of the year. We could never pen a purely joyful Christmassy anthem anyway as it wouldn’t be true. It’s dark and cold, and financial, emotional and health worries are prominent for a lot of people, meaning the romanticised Christmas idea can be very difficult to navigate. We had a lot of fun creating the Christmas feel [including bells!], and we’re both looking forward to heading home for family time, but you can bet we’ll be listening to almost exclusively happy-sad Christmas sounds.

As with all of our music, we hope it resonates with and comforts somebody. It’s permission to have a cosy, quieter time and be true to how you’re feeling, despite the noise. We love hearing people’s interpretations of our song narratives, because a song is whatever the listener needs it to be, and we never specify who ‘you’ is in ‘god I wish you were here’ – maybe it’s a call to someone you’ve lost, or just someone you want to be more honest with.

It’s wonderful to feel the escapism that some festive songs offer, but here’s an alternative, letting you know you’re not the only one feeling like this, so we can all look out for each other a little better.



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:: Maddox Jones & Great Adamz ::

“It’s Not Like the Christmas Films”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs? How does music impact your holiday experience?

Maddox Jones: I grew up in a strict Christian family and we didn’t actually celebrate Christmas as we believed his birth should be celebrated everyday… Now my family have actually relaxed on this and we love Christmas. It’s a time to relax and see friends and family. My favourite Christmas songs are “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues and “Last Christmas” by Wham.

Certain songs make you remember certain times in your life and Christmas songs just remind me of having a great time with family and friends. We hope that ‘It’s Christmas Time’ will be a new festive classic and be part of people’s Christmas memories for years to come.

Great Adamz: I grew up in Nigeria and the holiday season usually means new paints and lots of food. New paints because it is the time where everyone decorated their houses because they would be expecting visitors so usually everyone is repainting. Lots of food we usually get people to share with neighbours and friends on Christmas Day you literally eat everyone’s food but yours as you would be too full to eat your own cooked meal.

Music is what gets me in the mood, it’s what brings the fun memories and what reminds you that it is that time of the year again.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Maddox Jones: I’ve wanted to write a Christmas song for a while and I really enjoyed collaborating with Great Adamz on our single “Chasing Moments” earlier this year. We went to Plastic Tree Studios and great came up with the chorus and we wrote the rest together. It was such a quick process! Mad how it all came together so quickly. Sometimes that’s the best way!

Great Adamz: Maddox had an idea that we should do a holiday song and when I got to the studio the idea for the chorus just came. I sang it, Maddox liked it and we wrote the rest of the song together. True story took us 15 minutes to actually write this song.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Maddox Jones: It’s a feel good song that’s all about celebrating each other at Christmas and just taking a moment to remember that it’s Christmas time and this is a time to celebrate and enjoy each other. It’s an Afro beat Christmas song, and there ain’t too many of those around. This is a song to put on in the kitchen and dance around with your family whilst the dinner is cooking, whilst drinking a glass of wine of course!

Great Adamz: I think one lyric that I can really relate to is, “It’s cold outside but everyone’s alright.” Truly it’s cold outside but everyone seems jolly ’cause the Christmas lights are outside and Christmas trees are up. So yeah truly everyone’s alright.

I think this is one that you listen to while making your Christmas dinner or putting up your Christmas tree. You need that extra motivation to get yourself going in this cold winter. This is the song you need. I instantly feel alive when I hear the intro of this song.



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:: Odetta Hartman ::

“Christmas Together (Maybe This Year)”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs? How does music impact your holiday experience?

Odetta Hartman: Holidays with the Hartmans are always a grand affair – we’ll take any reason to celebrate with delicious food, themed outfits, groovy music & good friends! Growing up, we celebrated a modern combination of Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus and the Winter Solstice, incorporating global traditions to honor the season of light. To this day, I still feel there is magic to the season and have found new ways to make it merry and bright.

The Jackson 5 Christmas Album is my absolute favorite – especially the song “Someday,” which feels extra poignant this year. I’ll always have a soft spot for the classics – “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) and “Oh Holy Night” – as well as Tchaikovsky’s accompaniment to the Nutcracker ballet.

Another obsession is the Jewel PBS Christmas Special [Live at W. 54th] which we have on a coveted VHS tape and watch every year. Holidays with the Hartmans is a special playlist that features many of our family’s greatest hits, including Stevie Wonder, The Kinks, The Muppets and soundtracks from our favorite holiday movies.

Music has always played an integral part in the forming of core memories during the holiday season. As kids, one of the greatest joys of Yuletide was bringing out the cherished Christmas CD collection and singing all together while decorating the house. My siblings and I share a sentimental feeling about the soundtrack of our childhood festivities, and for years have organized live variety shows to spread joy during this time of year. On Christmas Eve 2020, my sister – Camellia – and I started a new tradition of hosting an online Holiday concert as a way to connect with our community and collaborators across the world in isolation. After two consecutive years of remote broadcasts, we were finally able to bring the show to a stage & last year got the band back together again for live performances in NYC and upstate. We are so excited to bring our Cozy Catskills Holiday Revue back to the historic Tusten Theater in Narrowsburg, NY on December 16 + 17!

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Odetta Hartman: For many years, I’ve been dreaming of making a Christmas album and I’m so thrilled to finally release my first holiday single – an original song: “Christmas Together (Maybe This Year).” My sister and I recorded the tune with our dear friend / guardian angel, Billy Aukstik of Dala Records, leaning into his signature vintage production style with analog synths, disco strings, triumphant horns, and velvety vocals.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Odetta Hartman: Inspired equally by Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and Dolly Parton’s. “Christmas Without You,” the sentiments of this new song hold out hope for joyful reunions and restore belief in the spirit of the season. While the majority of the composition conjures a cozy nostalgic mood, it ends with a gleeful vamp quoting other holiday hits and familiar melodies. We had so much fun tracking the first demo and ultimately decided to keep the fun loving outro as a way to bring some extra elfin energy to the mix.

I wrote “Christmas Together (Maybe This Year)” during the summer of 2021, when we were fantasizing about producing a live show after covid kept us apart in 2020. Although the lyrics specifically reference the “remote” reality and uncertainty of unprecedented times, it also communicates a familiar longing for connection that feels applicable outside of the initial context. Every time I sing it, it feels like an optimistic prayer for communion and restoration – I hope it brings joy and warmth to your holiday soundtrack as well!



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:: Beth // James ::

Christmas At the Burchills EP – ft. “Marfa Christmas Lights,” “Tiki Christmas Land,” & more!

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs? How does music impact your holiday experience?

Beth // James: We both love the holidays and spending time with our families. Love the feeling of slowing down, when it seems like everything in the world kind of stops for a few days. Definitely wish we had more of those days! “The Christmas Song” is probably both of our favorites. It’s really a perfect song. Also love Feliz Naviad and just love all the classic Christmas jazz songs – it’s the one time of year that the masses start listening to jazz again, haha!

It’s so nice to hear these songs every year. It floods our minds with memories we’ve had hearing these songs as kids, or singing them as adults.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Beth // James: Mikaela wrote one Christmas song a few years back kind of out of nowhere, and from then on we knew we wanted to record a Christmas project. Last winter, we wrote a bunch more and decided that this was the year to record them all! So we recorded them this July (in the dead of Texas summer) and here we are! We knew we wanted to use classic Christmas elements in the recordings – jingle bells and vintage 50’s vibes. We brought in pedal steel and modern, honest lyrics to make the originals feel true to us. And for the cover song, “Blue Christmas” we wanted to make it a duet and do it in a Willie Nelson style to pay homage to our home of Austin, Texas.

How does your EP capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your songs bring to the table?

Beth // James: “Tiki Christmas Land” is one of our favorite songs we’ve ever written and we have never heard a Christmas song quite like it. Definitely not one about tiki cocktails. But it also fits in perfectly with the Hawaiian Christmas sub genre like “Mele Kaliki Maka.”

“Marfa Christmas Lights” is a true Americana Christmas song. So many people have written songs about Marfa because it’s such a magical place, but we realized we had never heard a Christmas song about Marfa, so we wanted to take on the challenge!

“Santa Won’t You Deliver (My Baby This Winter)” is the most classic of the bunch. We think its uniqueness comes from the modern lyrics. It’s definitely a real love song, but has a touch of silliness and merriness to it.



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:: Imogen Clark ::

“Not Christmas Here”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs? How does music impact your holiday experience?

Imogen Clark: Ironically, I never liked holiday music growing up, with the exception of ‘How to Make Gravy’ by Paul Kelly. I love Christmas, but I could never relate to the music – partly I’m sure due to growing up in Australia where it’s a billion degrees and sunny over Christmas, while all the songs are about the snow and the cold and roasting chestnuts.

Music impacts pretty much all of my experiences! Obviously, ‘How to Make Gravy’ goes into high rotation, especially on the 21st of December. Honestly, if your readers don’t know that song, go listen right now! I know I’m meant to be promoting my Christmas single, but if I can get anyone to discover ‘How to Make Gravy’ I’ll be even happier. You can listen to ‘Not Christmas Here’ after that, and then you’ll get the little tip of the hat I did in the lyrics.

As I said, I don’t love Christmas music, so there’s always a bit of a tug of war over the music at family Christmases, and after ‘Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer’ goes round the fifth or sixth time it starts to get to me. But unfortunately, people feel like ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell kills the festive vibe a bit.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Imogen Clark: Like so many things in my life, this all changed in 2020, when someone suggested that since I don’t like the traditional holiday songs, I should try writing my own, and because I had extra free time and was off the road, I gave it a crack and it was a really fulfilling thing to do, finding ways to approach the season that felt meaningful and authentic to me. Since then, I’ve done one every year and I think eventually I’ll collect them into a Christmas album, which is something I would never have imagined myself making when I was a kid.

With “Not Christmas Here,” I was in Nashville writing for my new album and also scoping the city out as my new home. I decided I would move over when my new album came out in 2024, and it got me thinking about the holidays and what my first Christmas would be like without my family, and it started to inspire this song idea. I messaged the great Steve Poltz, who I’d met at Port Fairy Folk Festival earlier in the year, and we wrote this song in less than two hours. He’s just such a pure creative spirit and the ideas and melodies and words flowed back and forth between us so naturally. Then I got to record it a few weeks later with a murderer’s row of Nashville musicians at Peter Frampton’s studio, the kind of players whose work I’d loved on records by Stevie Nicks, Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow, Don Henley, Linda Ronstadt and so many more. A magical day and I feel the magic in the recording.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Imogen Clark: I had a whole realisation of what the season really means to me while I wrote this song. I love Christmas, and always have, but I think what I love about it is the experience I have with my family. It’s not intrinsic to the season, and without that part of it, I don’t know if Christmas would, or will, feel like Christmas to me. The holidays really are about being with the people you love, take away the presents, the decorations, all the superficial or cartoon stuff. It’s really about giving ourselves space and time to come together with people we love, especially people we don’t see every day, and to hopefully put the rest of life on pause to allow that. So I’m kind of paying homage to that idea by singing about what it feels like without it.

I really tried to bridge the Northern and Southern Hemisphere Christmas experiences on this one – the scorching hot Aussie Christmas I grew up with, and the romantic storybook American white Christmas I’ll be living with in years going forward. I’ve heard some songs that try to capture the Australian Christmas, but not one that speaks to both, and to the isolating experience you can sometimes have in holidays when you’re out of place or out of home. I also wanted it to feel bittersweet – not sad, but have a melancholy edge underneath the sweetness, to feel beautiful to listen to but stir up some nostalgia in a more nuanced and adult way.



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:: Mint Simon ::

“Get Together”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs?

Mint Simon: I feel like, as a Jew, I’ve always had a love for Christmas. Big fan of Christmas music, 90s holiday movies, twinkly lights… it all really does it for me. I love get-togethers with my chosen family, especially hosting, and making obscene amounts of latkes and sharing each other’s traditions, making new memories. Some of my favourite holiday songs include Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings’ ‘8 Days of Hanukkah’ (and honestly that entire album) and all of the Motown classics that have been in every ’90s holiday movie.

How does music impact your holiday experience?

Mint Simon: For me, it’s everything. I love the fireplace channel, the tree, good lights and smells.. completed with some of my favourite holiday songs. I love hearing it everywhere I go and just letting myself get fully immersed in the December energy. I’m a nostalgic person, and music hits that spot.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Mint Simon: I wanted to make something fun and influenced by the ’90s and early 2000s, keeping it up-tempo. It was written during covid when I just felt like I wanted to get together with my people and feel the joy of connection. I wrote it with my long time collaborator, Ballsy, in the middle of the heat of July, longing for the holidays and flirting with strangers and lovers under the mistletoe.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Mint Simon: Having a holiday song that has a bit of a sexy Santa vibe, mixed with the spirit of seeing people who you may only see once a year, I thought it was a fun and light way to connect with the holidays which can sometimes feel heavy (especially for me). Also the artwork for the song is inspired by Jonathan Taylor Thomas in I’ll be Home For Christmas, the teen heartthrob of Christmas.

I knew I wanted my holiday song to be original and not just a cover, but with familiar elements of the classics. Bringing queer pop to the holidays!



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:: Ballsy ::

“omg it’s xmas”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs, and how does music impact your holiday experience?

Ballsy: I’ve got a love/hate relationship with this time of year but I’ll focus on the love haha; I love that the main activity becomes staying in, being cozy, working on puzzles and watching cheesy movies. My favourite holiday songs can all be found on the album “It’s a Holiday Soul Party” by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Perfection.

I think holiday music has the potential to add to the cozy factor. The right playlist can bring instant good vibes and comfort, even during awkward family get togethers or office parties.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Ballsy: A friend of mine puts together a DIY community mixtape every year to raise money for local charities. I didn’t think I’d have time to participate last year, but I managed to squeeze in a last minute submission just in time. It turned out to be a big hit, so I went back to it this year to properly finish it. I started by finding a festive sound on one of my synths and took it from there, adding some simple guitar, bass and drums. Then, all it was missing was some over zealous yelling about the joy of the holidays haha!

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Ballsy: I hope the lyrics help paint a nostalgic picture of the holiday season, and that the raw yet sparkly production energizes folks to dance their little stockings off!

I tried really hard to tap into the kid in me, the one that absolutely flipped out this time of year, before I became a grinchy adult with responsibilities and stuff. It’s sort of a reminder to myself, and to anyone listening, to try to tap into that innocent joy whenever you can, whether it’s the holidays or not. I want to remember to play and have fun at every age!



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:: Luke Beling ::

“Into This New Year”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs, and how does music impact your holiday experience?

Luke Beling: Growing up in South Africa, the Christmas holidays were always my favorite part of the year. My family had a vacation house in a beautiful valley, steps away from the Indian Ocean. Now, living in Hawaii, my experience is similar: taking in songs and movies about snow and winter while soaking up the sun and the sea. The striking contrast between my physical environment and all that goes with the holidays has become quite normal. My fondness for the holidays has grown since having kids. There’s nothing more magical than watching my little girls’ eyes light up while dressing our Christmas tree.

I love “Silent Night,” “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way,” (Jim Croce) and “Christmas in Prison” (John Prine). It’s hard to imagine the holidays without music. Part of the season’s magic is the romance, hope, and redemption that many of our favorite holiday songs impart. The music is part of the invitation to put a pause on “regular” life and dream a little. Without the songs, I’d personally be missing an integral piece of the holiday narrative.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Luke Beling: I received a prompt from my sync agency, THINK Music, Inc., explaining that they were looking for holiday-type songs. Most of the songs I write lean a little melancholy and attempt to touch life’s more honest realities. The thought of writing a holiday song felt out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to take on the challenge. I pitched the idea to my friend and producer, Tyler Fortier. We wrote “Into This New Year,” inspired to pen something hopeful and evocative of the “too good to be true” kind of feeling that the holidays carry. We made the song our own by not treating it as a holiday song per se, giving ourselves the freedom in the writing and production to not have to fit in the “holiday song box.”

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Luke Beling: “Into This New Year” touches on the message of “cherish those who you love, be thankful for what you have at this moment, and dare to hope and dream in the promise of tomorrow.” I believe this sentiment to be the heart of the holiday spirit.

While many holiday songs are about Christmas, romance, and winter, only a few touch on the coming new year. “Into This New Year” is set on a snowy winter night but draws the listener to a place in the future, a place of gathering hope, joy, and expectation for the new year to come. Because of this, I feel like “Into This New Year” offers something unique in the holiday song genre.



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:: Will Knox & néomí ::

“Christmas Song”

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holiday songs, and how does music impact your holiday experience?

Will Knox: I’ve lived abroad for most of my adult life, so I’ve always loved coming back to London for Christmas. Christmas Eve was always a great time to go to the pub and see all my old friends and family. So on that theme I think I’ll pick “Driving Home For Christmas” by Chris Rea as my favourite holiday song, although Sufjan Stevens’ Songs for Christmas album is also magical. I think music helps trigger nostalgia and has the power to bring back the nice memories of yesteryear. So I love hearing classical Christmas music and old Christmas carols, my mum would always play these kinds of CDs on Christmas morning.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Will Knox: With my upcoming album I really wanted to write as personally as possible, and I had a lot of feelings about my own childhood since my son was born. Last Christmas didn’t go as planned, we were supposed to be with my family in the UK, and I was unable to give my son the Christmas I wanted him to have. This song helped me process a lot of feelings about love, family and expectations at this time of year. Musically I kept it very simple and close to what I do as a singer-songwriter – lots of fingerpicked guitars and vocal harmonies, and lyrically I tried to include all the small details I remembered from last year, which added up to a very intimate, personal song.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit and season for you, and with so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Will Knox: It didn’t feel too Christmassy until néomí added her vocals to the song and we stacked our voices multiple times.. I used to sing in choirs as a schoolboy, and it really reminded me of being in the back of a church at Christmas with the reverb of all those voices bouncing off the stone walls. The song’s first line is ‘Christmas Eve in Lisbon’, so the time and place are pretty well set from the get-go! The nylon string guitars are very soft and finger-picky, which also made the song feel a bit ‘snowy’ somehow.

I never intended to write a Christmas song, the story just happens to be set around Christmas time. So I’d like to think this song can be listened to all year round as lyrically the song’s main topic is unconditional love, and in this case the relationship between father and son. I’m not trying to get a Christmas number one, there are no gimmicks, it’s just a song from the heart and that’s all I’ve ever tried to bring to the table.



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Mistletones: 2023's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. 2

:: COMING SOON ::



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Mistletones: 2022's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. 1

:: FEATURE ::

Mistletones: 2022's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. 2

:: FEATURE ::

Mistletones: 2022's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. 3

:: FEATURE ::

2021's Best New Holiday Songs

:: MISTLETONES ::

2020's Best New Holiday Songs

:: MISTLETONES ::

2019's Best New Holiday Songs

:: MISTLETONES ::

2018's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. I

:: MISTLETONES ::

2018's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. II

:: MISTLETONES ::


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