It’s been two years since Vancouver singer/songwriter Nat Jay landed high on the POPDOSE year-end album charts with her sterling full-length album All I Think When I Wake Up. This month, she returns with a new holiday EP, Stoke the Fire, a collaboration with the electronic production duo Cookie Cartel (Dan Kearley and Mary Ancheta). The trio reinvents a bunch of well-tread classics from the magical, royalty-free world of public domain and makes them sound as fresh and sparkling as a Christmas morning snowfall… in Ibiza. OK, perhaps not that electro, but take a listen to see and hear for yourself…
Popdose’s Seattle office caught up with Nat Jay across the pond in Vancouver to discuss how Stoke the Fire blazed into being.
POPDOSE: Singing songs from the public domain was always good for a gag on The Simpsons, since we all know how tricky and pricey licensing can be these days; what inspired you to tackle these songs as a newfound trio?
NAT JAY: We decided to join forces on the recommendation of a music supervisor who was looking for some Christmas songs in the public domain to license for holiday movies. After recording the first couple songs, it started to feel like a project, like a collection that could be released as a whole. We started way back in March and recorded whenever we our three schedules allowed, right up to October.
We really enjoyed adding a modern twist to such classic tunes. An electropop aesthetic that isn’t typically “Christmas,” but could fit into any playlist; more current lyrics that touch on today’s society and welcome everyone in. This collaboration brought a new sound out of each of us, using a lot of vocal percussion throughout, and trying things we hadn’t done before. It was super inspirational creatively and we’re all looking forward to trying some non-Christmas material together in 2017.
P: ‘Jingle Bells’ can be especially grating in the wrong hands. You make it sound sparkling and lovely again, I can totally picture it in a Target or Kia commercial or as a hit song on the radio.
NJ: ‘Jingle Bells’ was the last song we recorded for the album. We couldn’t really imagine how it was going to work out, how to make it sound hip and not hokey. But after combining our ideas and trying a few things in the studio, we finished recording that day and we all knew we’d made something special and something catchy.
P: How did the lyric video come together?
We wanted something simple, personal and modern. I used photos I’d taken for background–one of my favorite fuzzy purple blanket and one from when I was traveling by ferry from my producer’s studio on Bowen Island, just off the coast of Vancouver, on a day where the clouds looks like snow in the sky. We combined it with emojis and other kitschy graphics, to go with the computer-like sounds of the track and lines like “Bells in cellphones ring.”
P: Beyond the public doman, what Christmas tunes are you digging?
NJ: I love the Pentatonix version of Fleet Foxes’ ‘White Winter Hymnal’; Cookie Cartel loves Vince Guaraldi Trio’s ‘Christmastime is Here’ and Donny Hathaway’s ‘This Christmas’.
Groove to Stoke the Fire on iTunes and Spotify.
Connect with Nat Jay and Cookie Cartel: