Love it or hate it, Christmas music is everywhere this time of year. And it seems Sol3 Mio love Christmas, and that the public love their new Christmas themed album. A Very Merry Christmas, which launched a couple of weeks ago and has already gone gold, features a uniquely Pacific flavour that only Moses Mackay, Pene and Amitai Pati can bring.
Baritone Moses Mackay tries to convince a self-confessed Christmas Grinch, producer Zoe George that spending the festive season with Sol3 Mio is the way to go.
While we can’t dream about a white Christmas down here in the southern hemisphere (though Dunedin might have surprised us one year – look it up), Sol3 Mio’s latest album A Very Merry Christmas gives us a distinctly southern spin on the very wintery and northern festival, and brings us back to what Christmas is about.
The album has been a long time in the making, with Sol3 Mio (brothers Pene Pati and Amitai Pati, and cousin Moses Mackay) wanting to create something to capture the unique spirit of Christmas in New Zealand. For Mackay food, family and church make Christmas. “Basically, that’s my Christmas. And for me it’s just the greatest time of the year. It’s that excuse to eat heaps, and just spend time with your family.”
Growing up with church music and standards from Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley at Christmas, MacKay has incorporated an eclectic range of music for the album, from traditional songs O Christmas Tree, Little Drummer Boy and Auld Lang Syne, to Hawaiian song Mele Kilikimaka, as well as two Christmas songs Mackay has penned himself. And if you were at a primary school in New Zealand in the 80s and 90s, you’ll be able to sing along to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Merry Christmas, War is Over.
“I’ve always loved that song,” says Mackay. “When I hear that song, it makes me want to be around the ones that I love. I had the idea of having [Kiwi soul singer] Hollie [Smith] singing in the background to give it that kind of gospel feel, to tug on those emotional strings. To take it to church, which is where we spend a lot of our Christmas. When I heard the final mastering of that song, I just sat there and closed my eyes and I was in church with my family. I was there, living Christmas.”
Dispersed across the globe pursuing their own individual careers, Pene and Amitai Pati with San Francisco Opera, and Moses here in New Zealand, it was a triumph of modern communication bringing the album together. Mackay arranged much of the album in his home studio whilst emailing music to the brothers across the Pacific, with amendments and ideas. “By the time we decided to come together and record it, we knew what we were doing even though we were on separate sides of the world.”
But the boys come together this Christmas to showcase their new album around New Zealand. “We’re doing Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland, and then we’ve opened it up to Tauranga, Whangamata, and Kerikeri - so we’ve added these little shows to share the spirit of Christmas, and so I’m looking forward to that” explains Mackay.
Worth a go? Even if you’re slightly allergic to Christmas music, like Upbeat Producer Zoe George, there are most definitely “worse ways you can spend your Christmas”.
For full ticket info, visit: www.sol3mio.com/touring/