Ingrid Michaelson on Her New Holiday Single and When It's OK to Play Christmas Music: 'I Have Pretty Strict Rules'

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She'll launch the vacation album 'Songs for the Season' on Oct. 26. "Even for me, that feels early," she jokes.

Ingrid Michaelson is aware of that it's a bit early to be interested by the vacations. That hasn't stopped the singer -- a self-described "Christmas-obsessed human" -- from already wrapping some presents and watching Elf. This yr she's taking her Christmas craze to a complete new degree by releasing a vacation album, Songs for the Season, on Oct. 26 her Cabin 24 Records. The first single, a rendition of the basic "Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter," is out as we speak; she's additionally turning her annual New York-based Holiday Hop present right into a 14-date tour, titled Ingrid Michaelson Trio Presents Songs for the Season.   

Songs for the Season -- which incorporates visitor appearances from Leslie Odom Jr., Christina Perri and Grace VanderWaal -- finds Michaelson placing a twist on well-known classics in addition to sharing an authentic monitor, "Happy, Happy Christmas." And it arrives at a time when Michaelson is reconfiguring her personal vacation routine: Until final yr, the singer-songwriter had spent each Christmas in her dad and mom’ home opening presents; now, with each of her dad and mom having handed away, she says she’s looking for a option to maintain on to her favourite traditions of the season. "It was very tough, as a result of I like issues to be the identical," she says. "I would like traditions to be the identical. I believe a part of me likes to maintain the Holiday Hop very regular."   

Below, Michaelson tells Billboard about placing collectively the album, how she's respiration new life into her covers and when she thinks it's acceptable to play Christmas music.   

You're sharing the primary style of this new album. What are you most enthusiastic about?    

I’m simply so anxious simply to begin the entire thing off. I like Christmas time. It’s one thing that rising up was at all times actually necessary in my household, and it was only a actually great time. We would have a giant Christmas Eve get together yearly. Everybody of various faiths would come to our home. My dad performed piano, and everyone would sing Christmas carols and eat an excessive amount of and drink an excessive amount of. [Christmas] is type of like a light-weight. When I’m feeling down, I’m like, Well at the very least Christmas is coming in 4 months. This entire mission has actually been my entire profession within the making. I’ve needed to do that for therefore lengthy, however I simply couldn’t discover the fitting second inside my different tasks that I’m doing.

Why did you decide “Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter” as the primary single?

I've solely heard Bing Crosby do it. I don’t know why there aren’t extra variations. I prefer it as a result of whereas that is primarily a Christmas document -- there are eight songs that actually say the phrase "Christmas" and there are 4 that don’t -- I needed there to be a handful of songs the place, in case you didn't have fun Christmas or didn't wish to hear about Christmas, you may nonetheless have one thing to carry on to. So, that track, to me, is like, Let’s bundle up inside when it’s chilly out. It’s a not-creepy, not-predatory model of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

How snug did you're feeling taking over a few of the classics?

It’s arduous, as a result of I needed to remain true to that sound, however on the similar time, you don’t wish to simply regurgitate one thing. You need to put just a little little bit of your personal spin on issues. Also, my voice isn’t actually a chameleon voice. I simply sing the best way I sing. I positively tried to not riff. I paid very shut consideration to my vocals in a approach that I usually don’t. I felt fairly snug shaking issues up a bit, as a result of I nonetheless really feel like we have been being actually respectful to that sound.

Your rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is much more mellowed out.

That one was a track that I needed to do stripped down. That track could be very tough, it’s very nuanced. There are a variety of jazz progressions in that track. My producer, Dan Romer, took it and simplified a variety of it. It simply lent itself to this extra somber [vibe] as a substitute of comfortable, tied-up-with-a-bow [feeling]. It grew to become this longing, like “I don’t have you ever, and all I would like is you.” And then when Leslie [Odom Jr.] sang it, it was so stunning. Getting along with him was a dream. I really feel like that track is probably the most trendy one on the document. But in simplifying it, it matches with that nostalgic vibe in a approach that it wouldn’t have if we had simply executed a conventional cowl of it.

How has your Holiday Hop present developed through the years?

You don’t need issues to alter an excessive amount of. Obviously, with new data come new songs. We at all times finish with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with me and my bass participant, who has been in my band since 2005. I positively have songs the place I’m like, "We have to do these." And then we’ll throw in some new stuff. We’ll do those that everybody needs to listen to like, “The Way I Am” and “Be OK” and stuff like that. In some methods it grows, and in some methods it has stayed the very same. Last Christmas was the primary time I didn’t get up in my dad and mom’ home and open Christmas presents as a result of each of my dad and mom have handed away now. It was very tough, as a result of I like issues to be the identical. I would like traditions to be the identical. I believe a part of me likes to maintain the Holiday Hop very regular.

Do you may have a favourite vacation custom?

It’s so unhappy, as a result of it doesn’t occur anymore. I adored waking up and going downstairs and being with my household and opening up presents. And it doesn’t exist for me anymore. So final yr, my boyfriend’s daughters -- who're 17 and 19 -- slept over, and we awoke, after which my brother and my then-pregnant sister-in-law all opened presents at my condo. And then my aunt and uncle and a bunch of my cousins and my cousins’ youngsters and household associates came to visit. It was like this new custom that we usually have executed at my dad and mom’ home. It was unusual, as a result of it felt totally different, but it surely nonetheless felt very nice.

What a few favourite Christmas track typically?

My favourite Christmas track is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The Judy Garland model that she sings in Meet Me in St. Louis. It’s simply the perfect. Her voice is so untethered, and she or he’s actually a vocal icon of mine. The line that kills me and makes me cry [is] “Someday quickly all of us might be collectively, if the fates enable.” Just the thought of hopefully subsequent yr, we’ll nonetheless be doing this, we’ll nonetheless be collectively -- as a child, I simply could be so destroyed after I watched that. It simply caught with me. I grew up watching outdated film musicals. I by no means listened to the radio. I simply watched Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby. That was the foundation of my musicality. It stems from that. I sing it yearly, and I adore it.

Tell me in regards to the album's one authentic vacation track.

Well, the hope was at the very least to have an authentic track. I wrote that track perhaps two years in the past. It was about my mom, who I misplaced in 2014. It’s clearly fairly melancholy, and it’s known as “Happy, Happy Christmas,” which could be very ironic, as a result of it’s not comfortable in any respect. But it's in case you actually hearken to it. The strings within the background are so stunning -- they only destroy me. Lots of people have somebody that they love that's lacking across the holidays. It makes holidays a really lonely time and a really arduous time for folks. I needed to acknowledge that that exists on the planet. There’s additionally one thing cathartic about listening to any person sing the factor that you just’re feeling, particularly round that point of the yr. I felt prefer it was necessary for me to acknowledge that, whereas I do love Christmas, and it's a very particular time of yr for me, there are additionally actually, actually darkish and unhappy moments, too.

When do you suppose is an appropriate time to begin listening to vacation music?

I believe folks wish to wait till -- I say this as I’m releasing a single -- after Halloween. [Laughs] That’s why we picked a track about temperature as a substitute of “White Christmas.” But it’s humorous, as a result of we clearly requested round, and also you discuss to individuals who do that for a dwelling, and so they’re like, “Yeah, you gotta have it out in October.” And I used to be like, "That’s so early!" Even for me, that feels early. I don’t wish to annoy folks and put it out in October, however that was the recommendation. So I used to be like, "Well, if that’s what everybody else does...."

It might be harmful to begin listening to vacation music as a result of when you do, that’s all you wish to hearken to till the day comes.

I do know! It places you in such an excellent temper. It’s humorous, as a result of I’ve been listening to those mixes as a result of we’ve been engaged on it for therefore lengthy. It’s jarring to be listening to this in June when it’s scorching out. And I used to be like, “This is improper.” I've fairly strict guidelines. I don’t watch Christmas films or hearken to any Christmas music [before a certain point]. Like, typically, some cable channels randomly could have a Christmas film on in the course of the summer season, and I’m like, “No, no, no!” I gained’t even go close to it. I would like it to be particular. But you recognize, September, October, November, December. So, I've 4 months. That’s all I’m asking for.

Ingrid Michaelson Trio Songs for the Season Tour Dates:

Nov 26              Portland, OR                Revolution Hall           
Nov 29              San Francisco, CA      The Masonic
Nov 30              Los Angeles, CA         The Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church
Dec three                Denver, CO                  Boettcher Concert Hall    
Dec 5                Saint Paul, MN             The Fitzgerald Theater
Dec 6                Madison, WI                 The Orpheum Theater
Dec 7                Chicago, IL                   Vic Theatre​
Dec eight                Cleveland, OH              Agora Theatre​
Dec 9                Royal Oak, MI               Royal Oak Music Theatre​
Dec 11              Munhall, PA                  Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall
Dec 12              Washington DC            Lincoln Theatre​
Dec 14              Glenside, PA                 Keswick Theatre​
Dec 15              Boston, MA                   Orpheum Theatre​
Dec 17              New York, NY                Beacon Theatre