Take Aim: Amy Sciarretto vs. Elizabeth Chan
Fri, 13 Dec 2013 16:56:03
Christmas season is in full effect, so we nabbed some time with Christmas songwriter Elizabeth Chan to get her take on the holiday season in which she traffics. It's not all full mugs of cinnamon-spiked hot chocolate and presents! We love alternative takes on Xmas, which are at the heart of Chan's music! That's why we had to get some time with her.
Twitter-size your bio -- your choice of 140 words or characters, if you want to get technical-- and tell us everything we need to know! GO!
NYC born and raised. Vixen, Santa's favorite girl. You will know me by the trail of Snacks. Jingle Bells. Christmas songs.
If you were not doing music, you would be...
In the fetal position.
Any non-music hobbies, talents or skills?
I have an uncanny ability to make something out of nothing in the kitchen. Going after my dream has taken everything I've got. I've always been resourceful in all aspects of my life. The most fun I have is being resourceful is in the kitchen. I work some magic with whatever is in the fridge or pantry in any moment. Secretly, I'm waiting for someone to invite me to be on Chopped or Guy's Grocery Games. I'm a Food Network and Cooking Channel junkie.
Also love to sketch and draw. I really enjoy art stores and art supplies.
Pick ONE song one your record and share a writing or recording story. Something intimate, that you haven't told anyone else (or at least a bunch of writers or journalists) and that which puts us in the moment with you. Let's get intimate, shall we?
'Try to Have a Merry Christmas.'
This is the most personal song I have on my record for many reasons. I wrote it during a really pivotal crossroads in my personal and professional life. For weeks, I had been mulling over decisions that would change my life.
Some songs are written because you feel compelled to make some sense of life and the world around you. A little over a year ago, I was going through some inner turmoil personally and professionally. Feeling extraordinarily isolated in having to make some major personal and professional decisions.
I remember calling my mother and telling her that I was going to quit my day job to pursue writing Christmas music full-time. She was really upset and thought it would be the worst decision for me. Much of her worries stemmed from a fear of the unknown. 'What about your retirement?' 'What about your bills?' 'You are too old to do this.' I remember saying to her, 'You can count how many days it takes to make a certain amount of dollars, you can count how many dollars it takes to live a certain amount of days - but you never know how many days you have.' It was not a great conversation and it left me feeling really upset and confused about the path I wanted to take.
Unfortunately, a few weeks later - her brother, who was my uncle, passed away. My mother called me upset and recounted our conversation to tell me, 'You were right Elizabeth. Life is very short. Despite trying to dissuade you, music seems to be your calling. You should go for it.'
Sometimes tragedy gives you a clear lens.
Upon my mother's blessing and speaking with my family, I gave notice at my job. A career I had work so hard to succeed at. My boss at the time also gave me forewarning and thought it was a terrible idea.
I was really overwhelmed with a lot of emotion and turmoil. It seemed like the right thing to do, but I was very scared. Some people cry, some people seek a therapist. For me, I always write it out. From these really confusing emotions, this song poured out. In my heart this entire time was my cousin, who I was very close to. She had essentially raised me when I was young girl. I started to internalize what had happened to our family and started to lament the idea of the empty seat at Christmas. I also felt so alone in having made a decision to quit my job to pursue Christmas music. I couldn't finish this song without sobbing. When I was done, to hear the song back was cathartic.
'Try to Have a Merry Christmas' is a snapshot of me and my family in that moment. It was a moment where I wanted to be strong for my cousin, but also realized that life wasn't fair and sometimes we're faced with things that make us feel isolated. That sometimes for whatever reason we feel isolated, all we need is someone there to tell us it's ok. That there is something to look forward to tomorrow.
It's a pretty heavy Christmas song, but after finishing that song, I realized even further that writing this music was what I was meant to do.
Finish this sentence: Elizabeth Chan is the artist that...
...You will only tell people you listen to after Thanksgiving.
Can you talk about your personal relationship with the Christmas holiday? Are you "HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!" or are you more of a secret "Bah Humbug" type?
Neither! Every Christmas, I get to spend with my family is one filled with an insane amount of gratitude. The core of what makes every Christmas amazing for me is not the presents as much as it is the presence of those I love around me.
What are the two best ingredients of a holiday song?
Me and Sleigh Bells!
Check out Elizabeth Chan's "Fa La La" below!
What is your favorite holiday tradition?