SoulCuts Advent Calendar Day 1 – I Love Christmas – Eugene Wilde / Rob Hardt Interview

1 12 2010

The SoulCuts Santa has arrived to deliver a whole host of Christmas cheer. Over the festive season, we’ll be delving deep into our big, fat, soulful sack to bring you a delectable musical treat every day right up until the 25th.

We’re kicking off the festivities with a new track from legendary 80s soul vocalist Eugene Wilde. I Love Christmas is a nice slice of boogie soul produced by SoulCuts favourite Rob Hardt (one half of Cool Million) and one of the choice cuts on his new, Christmas at SedSoul album. We’ll be featuring a few of our preferred tracks off this Chrimbo collection over the coming weeks. With a line up that includes the aforementioned Mr Wilde, Ann Sexton, Noel McKoy, Peggi Blu and Marilyn Ashford Brown, among lesser known artists Lene Riebau, Jeniqua and C Robert Walker, Christmas at SedSoul is the perfect gift for the independent soul fan.

SoulCuts met up with Rob to talk about the Christmas album and all things soulful. We are huge Christmas soul music fans, as the upcoming blog entries for December will testify. Rob, undoubtedly shares our passion for Christmas soul music, echoing our sentiment that it’s a woefully underrated sub-genre. We started by talking a little about Rob’s favourite Christmas soul cuts,

I like Smokey Robinson, Santa Claus is coming to town. I really like it. The Temptations, Donny Hathaway, even the old stuff like Nat King Cole….and we have The Christmas Song on the album.

The album mixes up covers and original songs to great effect. Most surprising, perhaps, is the more traditional styling of Rob’s version of The Christmas Song featuring Peggi Blu on vocals. A touch jazzier than more straight-ahead versions, this new take undoubtedly captures the feel of a classic Christmas album. Rob joked,

You can really hear the fire on there. I did think about putting a crackle on it. Actually, I wanted to put the record out with a smell on it…you know, like a Christmas smell…cinnamon and all this…next time we’ll do it….but, we thought about it, and remembered all the records we don’t sell in a year, we need to keep them in our basement, so we would always have this smell of Christmas throughout the house if it doesn’t go so well.

I don’t think that’ll be a problem for Rob, given the overall quality of the 11-track album which manages to avoid the schmaltzy pitfalls usually associated with Christmas releases. No curdled egg-nog on this festive offering! We asked Rob how he approached the Christmas at SedSoul album,

Well, the Christmas element comes mainly through the lyrics as I have no jing-a-lings, or Christmas bells on the record. We’ve kept it quite funky, soulful, a little jazzy. I didn’t want to have the stereotype. I did the music and asked the artists to write on top of the music and I told everybody, feel free to sing about anything, you know: the lonely Christmas in a hotel room on your own with your best friend Jack Daniels, I don’t care, but put something about Christmas in to it. And everybody came with positive Christmas feelings, nothing negative. And all the artists were happy to do it. I think all the artists would like to make that classic Christmas record, be the next George Michael, even though that’s very difficult!!!!!

Of course, the motivation for many artists when making a Christmas song is to write one that will be played year on year. With versions of Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Ann Sexton), This Christmas (an intriguing blend of the original married to a Sexual Healing vibe!) and the aforementioned The Christmas Song, the album mixes established classics with brand new songs. SoulCuts asked Rob if he considered that there were any future ‘classics’ on the album,

I think that the Eugene track will be big on the dancefloors, a little 80s boogie style, so hopefully it is a little timeless…and we have a head-start in that we chose a style of music that’s already twenty or thirty years old! Our record cannot date any more! Old from the beginning! And I really think that Noel McKoy’s track is something that combines the pop and the soul elements. I think a lot of people will relate to it. It has good lyrics and Noel is a good lyric writer. I think it captures what Christmas is all about for some many, people coming together. And this makes it, for me, like a little Christmas hymn.

We just loved talking to the jovial Rob on his recent trip to London. We’ll have another Rob Hardt feature later this month recounting the story of how this guy from Germany became one of modern soul’s more influential figures. Stay with SoulCuts for more from Germany’s greatest soul star since…….well…….EVER!

Christmas at SedSoul is out now on download and CD. Check the SedSoul website for further details and to listen to the album in its entirety, or download via iTunes. Ho, ho, ho!