I've always had a soft spot for really creative parodies, Weird Al, Pentatonix, and guys like Dave Days, have for a long time been apart of my music library. So last year when I stumbled on to a group calling themselves Eclipse 6, I was instantly hooked. I promise if you haven't already heard of these guys, you absolutely need to watch this video of their Hamilton parody. "Hamildoph" Sung from the perspective of Rudolph being approached by Santa to assist him on a foggy Christmas Eve.
We were able to speak with Shayne Taylor of Eclipse 6.
"Growing up, Shayne didn’t have much choice as to his participation in music and performing. The son of a studio singer and member of the renown Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Shayne’s first day in the spotlight was when he was 6-months-old as he played the youngest of 12 children in the stage play, “Cheaper by the Dozen.” Since that time, he’s logged an impressive resume both vocally and on the stage." Excerpt from his bio on Eclipse6.com
Who is Eclipse 6?
Shayne - We met at Utah State University, where we were singing with a group called the Sunburst Singers (6 guys, 6 girls) that specialized in Big Band/Swing music. Each year they would produce a Broadway/Vegas-styled floor show with 12 dancers and a re-creation of the Glenn Miller orchestra. At Christmastime, the singers would become the Aggie Carolers for the first half of December, then transition to Sun Valley, Idaho, to become the Sun Valley Carolers for the second half of the month. Here’s a video about it that we played at one of our Christmas concerts:
We really enjoyed singing Big Band/Jazz/Swing music, but
our second year singing together in that group, we determined that we could woo women more effectively with popular music, so we started writing and arranging our own songs and performing around campus. It sort of snowballed from there.
Your Santa Style Parody songs are impressive, how did you come up with the idea?
Most of us have tried our hand at songwriting and I’ve sort of become the go-to guy when it comes to finishing lyrics. Someone will come up with a song idea and maybe finish a verse & chorus, then come to me to help write additional lyrics or a bridge to finish the song. We had also done a couple of parodies early on. One of them was a version of “Larger than Life” by the Backstreet Boys that made fun of boy bands.
When I was a student at Utah State I used to work temp jobs, which provided me with a lot of time doing mindless tasks on assembly lines, so I would pass the time by working on song lyrics. We had started performing the song “Boom! Shake the Room” which was a Will Smith rap from the 90s. At the same time, we were starting to put together arrangements of Christmas songs and I got the idea to rewrite the lyrics to the rap drawing on phrases and ideas from the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem. My wife, Heather, helped me finish the parody and it became an audience favorite at our Christmas shows. We then added a mashup/medley of other 90s raps, and that grew into doing an annual mashup of the year’s most popular songs with Christmasized lyrics.
[I've included the videos for several years of these shows in the playlist at the top of this page.]
What is the process of coming up with what songs will be parodied?
Heather and I both try to keep up with what is popular throughout the year, then in the late summer or early fall we start narrowing down the list. We definitely look at how popular songs are (views on YouTube being the primary measuring stick), but we’re also looking for songs that are catchy and mostly choose songs from the pop charts (rather than country, R&B, alternative, etc.). Basically, we need songs that can fit together without changing the key and tempo too drastically.
Once we’ve figured out a list of songs and the order, we create a rough demo of each song individually and of the mashup as a whole and send it to Patrick Rose to arrange and produce the finished song. Pat was a founding member of the group who left in 2003 to study film scoring at Berklee School of Music. He’s been in LA composing music for television shows ever since, but still acts as the primary arranger and music producer for Eclipse 6 in and around his other projects.
Did you find that the writing process was different from a non holiday themed song?
Writing Christmas parodies is somewhat limiting, because you’re recycling the same ideas over and over (related to Santa, Elves, Reindeer, Snowmen, or excited kids). With other songs I’ve written or co-written, I can draw on any ideas/words that serve the theme/concept of the song and what it’s trying to express.
Can you speak on your full-length parodies, what was the process of coming up with the lyrics?
For the yearly mashups, we normally end with whatever song was the viral hit of that year—such as Gangham Style, What Does the Fox Say?, or Uptown Funk. The year after the Hamilton musical became a hit, we were originally going to end the mashup with a Hamilton song. I wrote the first and last parts of the Hamilton/Rudolph idea while we were shooting a music video and sang it for the group the next day. The similarities between the Rudolph/Santa and Hamilton/Washington stories worked so well that we decided to do a standalone mashup that became Hamildolph. Heather then wrote the middle section and we finished out the lyrics together. We knew Hamilton fans are obsessed with the original lyrics—so we felt extra motivated to make the parody lyrics line up properly.
When The Greatest Showman came out the next year, it practically screamed for us to retell Frosty the Snowman as a follow up to Hamildolph. That one turned into a 9-minute mini-musical.
When it comes to Christmas music, whether writing or listening, do you have a certain style you enjoy the most?
Obviously I’m biased, but I definitely prefer vocal arrangements of Christmas songs. That’s not to say I don’t like Mannheim Steamroller or other instrumental versions, but there’s something about vocal music that lends itself to Christmas carols.
Do you have any favorite memories of Christmases past you would like to share?
We all have very glowy memories of the time we spent together in Sun Valley. The resort does a great job of making things very Christmasy and it was fun being a part of that. In addition, we were given free lift passes and equipment rentals, so we have happy memories of going skiing or snowboarding together every day for two weeks.
Would it be safe to assume that for the last several years, that as a group you have focused on worship and Christmas music? How was that decision made?
We released our second Christmas album in 2011 and then spent several years focusing on doing covers of popular songs and upping our game with producing music videos for YouTube. We sat down together after the 2015 Christmas season to talk about what projects we wanted to pursue next. When we looked at the numbers, it was clear that our first religious album (Grateful Praise) and our two Christmas albums had sold the most copies and had the longest shelf life—meaning, people continue to purchase those albums year after year.
We decided to do a second sacred album partly because we wanted to have enough songs to do a full-length religious concert, if the opportunity arises. We also want to promote the gospel and be an influence for good—particularly with younger people in a world that seems to be turning away from religion in a lot of ways.
We continued to produce new Christmas songs while we finished the religious album, and we’ve also done a few new songs that are not sacred or Christmas (This is Me, Humble & Kind, Celebration).
Who would you consider your biggest Musical Influence?
Of the group members, Kevin Jones and I were the only ones who grew up listening to a cappella music. My first album was “One Size Fits All” by The Nylons and I wore the cassette tape out. In Jr. High and High School the groups I listened to the most were Take 6, Rockapella, The Blenders, and The Trenchcoats. I also listened to groups that were based more in Classical or Jazz music, like The King’s Singers, The Real Group, and The Cambridge Singers. The a cappella group I listen to the most these days is Pentatonix—they really are an a cappella group’s a cappella group.
Outside of the a cappella genre, I was/am a fan of Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, U2, The Beatles, Journey, Queen, Bobby McFerrin, Garth Brooks, James Taylor, and Harry Connick, Jr.
In general, I gravitate toward singer-songwriters and bands who write their own music. More recent artists I follow include John Mayer, Maroon 5, Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz, Michael Buble, Imagine Dragons, Gavin DeGraw, Marc Broussard, OK Go, and Andy Grammer.
You have several songs up for streaming, do you have a favorite, or one that really means a lot to you?
One of my favorites from our last album is Pat’s arrangement of Nearer, My God, to Thee. We collaborated with Madilyn Paige and filmed a music video on the salt flats near Saltaire and I thought it turned out really beautiful.
Are you currently working on any new music?
We always have something in the works. I think taking part in the creative process of writing and arranging new music is the most fulfilling part of being in the group and it’s what keeps us going. If we stopped producing new songs I think we’d get sick of ourselves.
Right now were almost done with our version of Dan & Shay’s “Speechless.” Were excited about it because it’s a great song, but also because it’s the first song arranged and produced by Michael Gibbons, who is our primary sound engineer for live concerts.
Do you have anything special in the works for Christmas 2020?
We’ll have a couple of new Christmas songs and another Santa Style mashup. Nothing has been finalized at this point because we normally have to wait until the television season ends in May before Patrick has time to work on new projects.
Where can people find your work
Where can fans connect with you on social media?