Pop / EDM artist, Matthew Parker, releases his first-ever Christmas album titled Irwin's Christmas Collection today via DREAM Records. Self-produced, this comedic take on the holidays pays homage to Parker's experiences growing up in Michigan with a big family. Featuring fresh-sounding production mixed with classic holiday sounds, this album is a must-have for the Matthew Parker fan and for listeners who are looking for something a little different this year. In the days leading up to his new release, Matthew talked with us about the inspiration behind his holiday collection.
Congratulations on your new holiday release, Irwin's Christmas Collection. When did you first feel the desire to put out a Christmas collection?
I've actually wanted to put out a Christmas project for many years, but I was always busy working on my next album and only ended up releasing a Christmas single every few years.
How did you go about selecting the songs to include as well as the title for the EP?
The title of the EP was somewhat hard to come up with, and I procrastinated on choosing it till the day I had to turn in the EP. [Laughts.] Since I had a few funny songs as well as a serious song, I needed something that could represent both--not too goofy or it would give no respect to the serious song, but not too serious or it would misrepresent the funny songs. So I settled on "Irwin's Christmas Collection. Irwin is the name of my stuffed penguin who is also my musical mascot. It's rumored that Irwin is actually my ghost producer and makes all my music, but that's totally not true--why would you even suggest that? As for the songs I selected for this EP, I always love writing new original songs, so I did 2 of those. Then I did 2 traditional songs in completely untraditional ways--"Carol of the Bells" in dubstep style, and an abridged version of "12 Days of Christmas" because that song is always just WAY too long.
How did you balance the desire to stay true to traditional Christmas sounds while also bringing your own flavor to these tracks?
When making Christmas songs, it's sometimes hard to say what really makes it sound "Christmas-y". I put some jingle bells in "Mistletoe Meltdown" and then on "Carol of the Bells", I used some of those characteristic church bells. I wanted to be sure that the songs sounded like Christmas songs, but to be honest, my "Carol of the Bells" version just sounds like a scary intense dubstep song. [Laughs.] What can ya do? Dubstep isn't inherently very "Christmas-y" at all, but I'm confident people won't be bothered by that if the song is what they call a "banger".
What message do you hope listeners take away from this collection?
The strongest message in the EP is in the cinematic, orchestral song, "Kindle". It's an eternity-sized big-picture view of the story of Jesus coming down to earth to be our Savior. Although Christmas is technically about the time when Jesus was born, it's clear that his birth is important BECAUSE of the work he would later do on the cross. The rest of the EP adds to this message with flavors of joy and light-heartedness, suggesting that life is good because of what God has done for us--because Jesus came down to earth on that silent night 2,000 years ago.
Who or what were your biggest influences in creating these songs?
For this EP, I kind of just sat down and did my thing, but I suppose I've been shaped musically by listening to orchestral music by Michael W. Smith, dubstep songs by Skrillex, and for the rock elements of "Mistletoe Meltdown" by listening to Switchfoot.
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
I can't lie--the kid inside me always loved the presents. [Laughs.] We also had another tradition every year--my parents always wrapped cereal boxes and we opened them and ate them for breakfast. It was a good time! We also read the Christmas story every year out of the book of Luke and I think that's important because that's obviously what it's all about!
What are your biggest hopes personally and professionally as we prepare to enter into the new year?
Well, I'm getting married this next year in May and that's been on my mind, so I really want to be the man that I need to be for my fiancée this coming year. Personally, I guess that means being serious about what's important to me, and professionally it means going as far as I can with my music so I can provide for her. I've been so blessed to be able to do what I love--make music--and make a career out of it. And of course I've been so blessed with my amazing fiancée Savvy, and I can't wait for the future.