Just in time for Christmas downloading, Sydney singer-songwriter Alicia Penney has recorded nine holiday tunes and made them available–for free–on her website.
“And I gave it away for free because it’s Christmas!” Penney says in an email interview. “Well, actually, I kind of give everything away for free these days. I find when you go to all the trouble of making a recording, you just want to share it with as many people as you can. If you are sitting there worrying about if you’re gonna make your money back, you’ll be miserable. And you rarely do anyhow.”
On her website, Penney says she recorded the songs as a gift for her parents.
“My family is pretty close knit, and we all get pretty excited at holidays,” she says in the interview. “We like giving really thoughtful and surprising gifts. For their anniversary last year (I think it was last year) I made them a CD of cover songs that I do that they liked. That gift went over really well (they are pretty much my biggest fans). The other thing my dad always said was ‘you should make a christmas album!’ because every year me and him usually sit around and play christmas songs together, and he enjoys that. So I thought this gift would go over equally well, haha. And it did!”
The tunes include classics such as “White Christmas”, “Silent Night”, “O Holy Night”, and Hawksley Workman’s “Three Generations”.
“I really like Christmas songs,” Penney explains. “I’m not really religious but the music and the harmonies and the passion of the religious songs are really great, and the non-religious ones are really fun and pretty too. It also gave me the option of going all out harmony-wise. Whenever I record something I usually have to restrain myself at the third or fourth harmony, haha. For this one I got to make an Alicia Penney choir, because Christmas songs are all about voices and voices. Someone in Moncton shared my CD on facebook and one of the responses was ‘those girls have really nice voices’ which I found delightful, since they are all me, of course.”
“These songs were a mix of ones my parents particularly like (especially ‘Three Generations’ by Hawksley Workman), songs I particularly like, and ones I’ve made my own arrangement for in past years. I usually play a set of Christmas songs at Stoked for the Holidays every year, (And this year is no exception. I’m playing at around 4pm.) and I kind of worked my own flavour into some of them from doing that.”
“I recorded it at Harry Doyle’s studio – called small studios – over three days in early December when I should have been studying for exams. I recorded it myself and Harry and I mixed it (mostly Harry),” Penney says about recording the tunes.
Musing about the current music scene, Penney says, “I’ve kind of given up on the idea of making a living from playing music, and that may sound kind of sad, but it’s really not. Once I stopped worrying about money and all that other stuff (which have nothing to do with the music itself anyway), I found music became far more rewarding and enjoyable for me. I think I will continue to give all of my music away for free (visit the archive at aliciapenney.com) unless it’s something that cost me a whole bunch of money to make. I made hard copies of this album because I thought people might like to have one for the car or whatever, and they cost a few dollars each to make, so I am selling them but only for five bucks.”
Penney says the limited number of hard copies of the Christmas CD will on sale at the Stoked For The Holidays event, scheduled for Thursday, December 22, at St. George’s Hall, Nepean Street, Sydney, or by contacting her through her website.