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From Los Angeles to London and Canada to Laois – how a local musician produced a new Christmas song

Local music fans will be familiar with James O’Connor who has been performing at venues around the county for a number of years now and also teaches in Music Generation Laois and in a number of primary schools.

The Coronavirus restrictions have been difficult for the entertainment sector but he has used the time productively by first producing and album and more recently a Christmas song titled Memories of Christmas Day. 

“It’s very hard not to be cliché when you are writing a Christmas song,” he told Paul Downey on the first episode of the new Midweek podcast on LaoisToday.

“But we wanted to capture that nostalgic feeling, that warm, that thing of nice nostalgic about me growing up at Christmas, sneaking down the stairs, trying to catch out Santa.

And then growing up, fall in love, getting married and having your own kids and watching them do the same.”

And he also explained the process behind putting it together – and using musical resources from all over the world.

“One Mac is Michael McMahon is his real name and he’s originally from Dublin he was originally a DJ under the name Mick Taylor.

“In the last few years I decided I want to get back creating writing music. So we teamed up, he used to come to my gigs, saw me online and liked my stuff.

“And we got chatting at a gig and we did a couple of things, a couple of collaborations. And then he said to me this year, we’ll do a Christmas song is you are interested.

“And I always wanted to write a Christmas song as well. So I said Jesus you know why not, I have been putting it off. So we managed to meet, we managed to meet there back during when there wasn’t a lockdown at one stage … we met for a couple of hours and got together. He had some lyrics, I had the music.

“And then the rest was done on Zoom. And we just kept working because I have the recording bits here. I was able to record the tracks and the guitar tracks and the vocals send it over and he’d send over bits to me.

“And Kim Diaz Smith is actually in Los Angeles. So Michael found her on a thing called ‘Fiverr’  … it’s another thing I have discovered during lockdown.

“There is a whole site there that someone can sing your song or whatever. But Kim was on there and Michael got in touch with her and she sang then, recorded in Los Angeles and sent it back to us.

“So we were able to piece it altogether. And David Hart another chap from Portlaoise … he played base on it and a chap in Canada played drums and then a chap in England mixed it and a lad in Limerick mastered it! So it’s been back and forth.”

“It’s a real multinational kind of song isn’t it?” said Paul.

“Yes definitely and I was able to get some of my friends to do backing vocals as well. And my own mother did backing vocals, so there’s a load of credits on there as well.”

You can listen to the song in full here while you can listen to the full podcast with Paul Downey below also on Apple Podcasts or below on Spotify.

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. From Laois, Steven studied Journalism in DCU and has 14 years experience in the media, almost 10 of those in an editorial role. Husband of Emily, father of William and Lillian, he's happiest when he's telling stories or kicking a point.