Meet The Artist:
My name is Matt Heaton, and I play music for kids & families. I came to that in sort of a roundabout way; I play trad Irish music with my wife, Shannon. We’ve toured all over, made a lot of records etc. We had a kid 10 years ago, and I started taking him to sing alongs at libraries and the like. And I realized, “maybe I could do that?” We were obviously singing to him all the time anyway! So I started doing songs for kids, and fast forward to now, I love it. I get to play in a lot of different styles: surf music, rockabilly, Western swing. Loads of different guitar styles that I might not get to do otherwise. My dad is a church organist/choir director so I have a soft spot in my heart for Christmas music of all kinds. My early childhood memories involve going to a midnight Christmas Eve service at church, then my parents trying to get me to fall back asleep for a few hours before I would bound up and head for the tree!
What can listeners expect from your new Christmas album?
“Snow Day!” has a fairly “live” feel to it. Most of the basic tracks were recorded in one night with my band, the Outside Toys. Then I went back in and added things; Bari sax, fiddle, backing vocals etc. It covers a bit of territory stylistically, but leans toward late 50s early 60s sounds. And of course, it’s all family friendly!
What are you drawing from for inspiration on the album?
I tried to think of some of my favorite holiday tunes; the Ventures Christmas album, The Sweetback Sisters, and recently Joel Patterson. I love those vintage sounds! One of my favorite tunes on the record is “Christmas Movies.” I’m not sure how old you are, but when I was a kid, it was a big deal when the Christmas specials came on TV. Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown, all of those. And if you missed it, you just missed it. No on demand streaming, no DVDS or VHS or anything! So that song is kind of a nostalgic look back to that time.
How has this differed from creating a non holiday album?
The whole thing was more focused; while adding overdubs the guiding question was “does it sound Christmas-y?” If it didn’t, it was OUT.
If writing originals, how was the writing process different?
One thing that is really important to me as a kids’ musician is making everyone feel welcome. So some of the songs have a bit of a message. I’ve never understood why people get upset by “Happy Holidays;” I mean, there ARE quite a few holidays in December, and if you aren’t sure what someone celebrates, it casts a wider net. So, I wrote a song called “Happy Holidays.” “Can’t Judge a Gift” is both about the fact that I am terrible and I mean TERRIBLE at wrapping presents, and the fact that you shouldn’t judge people by appearance. And I included a Hanukkah song as well as a few seasonal non holiday songs.