New York native Jaymay has been churning out anti-folk tunes since the early 2000s. Her most recent project is "Jaymay Sings Christmas." She spoke with about this album as well as the future for both Odyssey and WNYU.
"It's a 26 song advent calendar," Jaymay said of the album. "I grew up listening to Disney and always wanted to do Christmas songs but in a special way, and I met this producer in L.A. Daniel Belardinelli." It became a snowball effect until she and Belardinelli, who also arranged all the music on the album in addition to producing it, came to the decision to release one song a day in the month of December leading up until the holiday.
The process of comprising the album has been a lengthy one. "I actually started recording some of the songs in 2010," Jaymay said. "Half of the album is with an orchestra, and we recorded with the Prague Philharmonic, and then the other half we worked on in the studio. Some are classical Christmas songs and there are like six original songs, some are funny, some are sad."
Three songs on the album additionally feature The Manhattan Choral Ensemble, directed by Thomas Cunningham. Another track, "Up In The Sky," was co-written with Gary Go and features his vocals along with the UCLA lab school intermediate kids, who are directed by Nick Kello.
She felt the format of releasing one song a day was beneficial, and possibly something she would attempt again in the future. "Having a deadline really gets stuff done," she said. "Even a song a day for a year would be really fun if you weren't so precious about the songs. Having a theme is a really good way to go."
It was important for her to not only produce a Christmas album but to also include her own Christmas content. "I felt like I needed to write original Christmas songs," Jaymay said. The producer also asked her to craft songs about certain subjects such as New York at the holidays. There are six original songs by Jaymay on the album.
From there, it was a process of deciding which classic Christmas tunes she wanted to include covers of. "I thought, 'I should do public domain songs to make more money,' but it ended up being which songs resonated with me the most when recording them," Jaymay said. She also asked fans for their input in the process.
"Fallin' Like Snow" as well as "Farewell, New York" were Jaymay's favorite tracks to record off the album, in part because they are originals and also because she feels they are the best songs on the album. "The funny part is," she said, "I basically wrote these songs in Venice Beach, California, so to be thinking of Christmas in New York when I'm looking at the ocean and palm trees was a nice dichotomy."
Up next for Jaymay is the plan to work on a pop record, as well as a Christmas musical utilizing the original songs she wrote for this album.