Ahh Christmas in Cape Cod. I can just see the Hallmark movie for it now.
Cape Cod is also home to Americana singer-songwriter Monica Rizzio, who recently announced the re-release of her acclaimed 2012 holiday album, All Wrapped Up for the Holidays Deluxe Edition, which came surging back by popular demand.
This deluxe edition, full-length album includes three new original songs: “Wrapped Up With You,” “All I Want Is You,” and “Our Holiday.” Rizzio released one single each week leading up the re-release, which drops this Friday December 11th. She will also be hosting and performing An Evening With Monica Rizzio: Holiday Songs and Stories, an intimate livestreamed show, which will air via VEEPS tomorrow, December 10th at 8:00PM ET. Rizzio will perform a mix of her favorite holiday songs along with the new singles.
Produced by Chris Durkin with music and lyrics by Rizzio and Jacqueline Loor Garcia de Quevedo, “Wrapped Up With You“ showcases Rizzio’s diverse musical talent as a performer and singer-songwriter, as she explores deep percussive sounds and tones within the pop genre. Produced by Jon Evans, with music and lyrics by Rizzio and Audrey Jones, “All I Want is You” highlights the creative collaboration that Rizzio has with many of her gifted students at her music school, Washashore Music. Lastly, the festive harmonies featuring Rizzio playing ukulele on “Our Holiday” was produced by David Bashford with music and lyrics by Rizzio and Rachel Morgan Perry.
Rizzio’s re-released album, All Wrapped Up For The Holidays brings a sense of familiar warmth to a closing year that has brought much cold and uncertainty.
We caught up with Rizzio to discuss the re-release of the album, her upcoming livestream performance, and much more.
So what made you want to re-release a deluxe edition of your album All Wrapped Up For The Holidays?
Well, I had taken it offline maybe in 2016 I think, right when I was putting out my first solo record, and I was told by some people in the music business that it wouldn’t brand well with my Americana-type side. So I took it down, and this year has been so weird with COVID, that I said “I’m not going to listen to any music business people and I’m going to do what I want to do- I’m going to re-release it”. So many people had been emailing me since I took it down asking “how can I get a copy of the album?” So that was pretty much the main reason. My fans wanted it, and I had written three new original holiday songs, and thought it’d be a cool way to re-release the record coupled with the new singles.
Would you say the pandemic and this dreadful year was another big reason you chose to re-release the album?
Oh absolutely. Yeah because, the funny thing is, I had no reason in my mind to record any Christmas holiday music initially, but after all of my touring was cancelled, I figured it’d give me time to work on some. I did a lot of submitting for licensing for the holidays, and figured it was just kind of the perfect time.
Speaking of: how would you say this year has affected your creative process?
I think for me, I was getting to a point where I was releasing a record and then touring, and I was going out supporting bigger artists- you know, I was supposed to go out with The Mavericks and do some shows this summer. And when that stopped, I just kept going through a cycle of what could I do? Who or what can I support? So it kind of forced me to reinvent myself you know? And by doing that, I met other songwriters and producers from all over the world. I had a goal: every four weeks I was going to write a song, have it fully produced, and whether I release it to the world or record it and save it, then that’s what I’m going to do.
I think it was awesome, because for the first time in my life, I was writing more pop stuff, which I hadn’t really done a lot of. It was so freeing for me as a songwriter to just let go and say, “You know what, I can say this stuff in pop music.” It’s a little bit different than writing an Americana song. So it tore down some walls for me creatively. I would say I land in the category where COVID was good for me creatively.
Could you discuss your three new singles and how they came to life?
So my very first song was “Wrapped Up With You,” and I co-wrote that with a girlfriend from the Canary Islands. We basically reached out to a UK producer in Manchester, England, that my girlfriend knew and said, “Hey this is the sound we want for this track”. We just kind of created the song together and recorded vocals here on the Cape. And he built the track in Manchester. It was kind of crazy.
My second single “All I Want is You” came out on the 4th of December. The producer who I worked with for my Washashore Cowgirl record had relocated back to the Cape, and his name is Jon Evans. I reached out to him and asked if he would help me build this holiday track, and here’s a reference of what I want it to sound like. So I was able to go to his studio and record vocals.
And as an example of artistic ingenuity during the COVID pandemic, the third song “Our Holiday”, was written online with an artist whom I met from California. All of these songs pretty much, namely the second song, I co-wrote with some of my students. I have a music school called Washahore Music, and I have a handful of students I do a lot of songwriting and artist development with. So I said, “Let’s write a holiday song, and we’re going to go in the studio and record it, and I’d like you to do back-up vocals on it.” It’s just something incredible to share with someone who’s 16 years old. For them to look on Spotify and see their names in the credits, it’s just so cool.
Can you walk us through a day in the life of your songwriting process?
With me, I’ve always written the melody first. Then I write the lyrics. I feel the melody seems to paint the picture for me. That’s kind of been my process through all of my songwriting that I’ve done thus far. And it seems to work good for me. I often will do little songwriting exercises where you write about an object in a room or something which helps bring ideas out. I’ll often do fun writing exercises with my students too.
And how might that process change when writing holiday songs? Do you drink spiked eggnog around the Christmas tree while writing? Maybe put Home Alone on in the background?
(Laughs) I will say, it was not great listening to holiday music in July, but I did that, and I allowed myself to be as dorky and geeky as I wanted to be with the lyrics. Because that’s just what holiday music is. “We’re going to kiss under the mistletoe and drink hot cocoa.” It’s the only time where you can write like that. I gave myself a hall pass, you know? It’s corny, but it’s fun.
What can fans expect to hear on your upcoming livestreamed show? Are you planning to play the whole re-released album from start to finish? Any fun surprises?
So I will definitely be playing my three new holiday songs, and then a mix of some of my absolute favorite holiday music: some will be from the album, some will not be. I will do a cover song from a friend called “Santa Will Find You.” I always cover that song because it has kind of become a traditional song in Cape Cod. It’s kind of a local favorite. It’ll be a big mixture of my favorite holiday songs.
Is it going to be just you, or will you have a small backing band?
So it’s going to be recorded live from my house in Cape Cod. It will just be me for the first time. This will be my 9th Annual holiday show, and the first one I did when I first released the album. It’s ranged from having The Les Paul Trio from New York backing me up, to more of a bluegrass country Christmas-type show. And some years I feature my students, but this year it’ll be all me and my guitar, and I’ll hop on my piano for a few songs too.
I know it’s hard saying at this point, but what might fans expect to see from Monica Rizzio come 2021?
So I’m going to start writing for my third record. And I think it’ll expand a little bit in genre. It may not be as twangy as it’s been in the past, but it’s definitely going to have that Americana-indie sound to it, but I guess you never know until a song comes out.
Can you spill the beans on potential album titles or don’t you have any yet?
No titles yet. I’ve only written one song for the record so far, so… (laughs)
You can hear Rizzio’s new songs on our “Music Mecca Top 25” and “Back Country Bangers” playlists right here.
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