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Featured Artist: Nathan Leigh Jones – Brand New Christmas

This year at Ditto Music, we’ve had so many Christmas releases, we thought we’d feature a few of the great albums and artists who have taken advantage of this wonderful time of year and show you all how it can be done. Whether or not Christmas carols are your thing, no one can deny that they are everywhere at this time of year – in packed shopping centres where millions of people are buying presents for each other, on the radio and television, online via youtube, vevo and other social media, in physical and digital stores, in bars and music venues, carols by candlelight events, and even on the street corners. Releasing a Christmas album can be great idea as an artist to gain some new fans, some exposure and to dive head first into the Christmas spirit. Nathan Leigh Jones – Brand New Christmas We caught up with Australian artist Nathan Leigh Jones, who has just gotten back from New York and the USA, where he has been promoting his most recent album, ‘Brand New Christmas’. 1. Tell us about your latest release and why you decided to do a Christmas Album. It's funny, 12 months ago I wouldn't have imagined I'd be releasing a Christmas album in 2013, yet here we are! The first concepts for 'Brand New Christmas' began forming last Christmas, when hearing a lot of — how can I put this — "tired" versions of Christmas songs everywhere. I wondered to myself, what if I recorded an album that totally hit the 'reset' button on some of these classic carols? A lot of them have such beautiful and festive lyrics, but artists that cover the songs are so restricted by their melodies. So, I rewrote the tunes! It's made for a super interesting album, and the feedback I'm getting so far has been really positive. It's probably the most fun I've ever had making an album before, I'm really proud of it. 2. What is your most favourite Christmas Carol and why? Ooo. Tough question. My favourite 'traditional' carol has always been Silent Night, which I included a new version of on Brand New Christmas. However, since recording the album, I really fell in love with the lyrics of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. I really changed the melody on this one, it's now an upbeat pop song, but I think the words are so poignant for this wonderful time of year where we reunite with our loved ones. "Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us once more!" 3. How did your musical career start and what have been some highlights over recent years? I've been singing, writing and playing piano since I was about 5. My dad was a minister of a church, we lived next door, so I always had access to instruments and a space to sing and play. I released a few independent EPs throughout my teenage years, and entered a demo in a major music competition in 2004. I won the title of 'Artist of the Year' which got me $60,000 worth of industry prizes, including my first full LP. Since then I've supported artists like Guy Sebastian, Lior and Wendy Matthews. I now spend a lot of time in New York City, where recently I've recorded music with Tony award winner Billy Porter, Tony & Emmy award winner Alan Cumming, and Diana Ross' daughter Rhonda. My album Sooner or Later was released in 2011, but this year it's been all about Brand New Christmas! 4. Do you have any advice for musicians just starting out in the industry? Clichéd but true — work hard, and never give up! I've often gotten some "lucky" breaks and think to myself, "Good, I don't have to try as hard now!" But in reality, the more success that comes your way, the harder you have to work. No one is going to motivate you more than YOU! So if you want to record that demo you've always wanted to record, don't wait for anyone else. Get out there and do it, and keep doing it, until you start to see your dreams take shape. We're in a lucky position right now with an industry that's warming to the DIY musician, and people like Ditto Music that can facilitate the dream. So, go for it! 5. What's up next for you in 2014? First thing — a break! I'm seeing in the new year in Barcelona, can't wait. Next on the to-do list is to produce an album for my wildly talented friend David Raleigh, who actually features on Brand New Christmas. He raised a staggering amount of money through Kickstarter to make the record of his dreams, and we're having a blast bringing it to life. That's due early 2014. Then I'll be getting plans together for my NEXT record! I have a concept that I don't think has been done before, so I'm excited about where it could go. I'm hoping to have that underway by mid-next year. After that, who knows! Brand New Christmas 2? Hey, Mariah Carey did it... ha ha!   Purchase 'Brand New Christmas' on iTunes here.