Interview: Amber Lawrence on an Aussie Aussie Christmas

It’s been a busy year for country music singer and songwriter, Amber Lawrence. Not only has she just been nominated for a further six Golden Guitars for her collaboration Our Backyard with Travis Collins, she also managed to find time to release an 11-track original album titled Aussie Aussie Christmas.

Last month you released a new album called Aussie Aussie Christmas, a collection of new Christmas songs written for an Australian audience. Why create a Australian Christmas album instead of sticking with a more traditional Christmas album?

All the way, my career has been putting my personality into everything I do and I wouldn’t be able to do that by singing carols someone else has written. I wanted to share what I see as Christmas.

It’s a pretty personal album. These songs are written purely based on how I’ve celebrated Christmas, but that’s certainly the way the majority of us Australians celebrate because of the heat. It’s hot. So whether you’ve got a pool [or] you’re near the beach, it doesn’t matter; you’re always finding a sprinkler, water bottles or something to get under. How many more versions of “Silent Night” do you need?!

Will you be touring this album or just doing select shows?

The album I’ve been touring pretty much all of December, but only locally – lots of school shows and Christmas shows in the lead up to Christmas. I don’t finish work until the 23rd of December; I’ve got shows right up until then.

What’s the overall response been like to the album?

The response has been great! In particular, the amount of schools around Australia that are using “Aussie Aussie Christmas” as their end of year Christmas song, with all the kids dancing to it,  that’s been awesome! It’s this simple song and it is fun to sing-along to. “Aussie Aussie Christmas”, the title track I wrote sitting in my office in front of the computer. It was quite fun to write because it was about imagining what happens at an Australian Christmas.

This whole album, if you listen to it from Sweden or something you’d just be like, “What? That really goes on at Christmas? I can’t believe it!” (Laughs) Hopefully lots of expats have found this album and it’s making them feel homesick or at least giving them those good feelings of home.

There’s a track on the album called “I Like Christmas” that is quite a different style to what you normally hear on a Amber Lawrence album.  Was that a conscious decision to have that kind of song on the album or did it just happen when you were making/writing it?  

I was at Allan Caswell’s [whom she wrote the song with] house and I was about to leave. We’d written two songs already that day and Allan started playing a blues riffs, we jammed away on that song and it took about 45 minutes to write. It was definitely this bluesy version and that one’s a really good [song] for adults and kids. I like Christmas, who doesn’t? (Laughs)

I do enjoy singing styles like that. In my live shows I do “[Son of a] Preacher Man” or something like that, where it’s a little more sassy and bluesy. Proven by what I’ve done in my career, there’s certainly no limit as to what I will or won’t do. So more blues, who knows?

In the music video, there’s a special cameo playing Santa.  How did that come about?

Tom Williams is a TV host. He hosts The Daily Edition on Channel 7 and when I took my album Kid’s Gone Country into the show, I gave him a copy. He played it for his daughter and they loved it. She’s only three or four. Next time I went on the show, he’s like, “We love your new album! If ever I can be in any of your video clips, let me know” Then when the video clip came around I thought I might see if he was [being] serious. I sent him an Instagram message and said, “You can say no, but would you like to play Aussie Santa in the video?” and he’s like, “I’d love to!”

He was fantastic! He was such a gentleman. He’s got a really high profile and was prepared to do whatever it took to get this Santa part looking great. We had to do the dance about probably 30 times and Tom never said, “I’ve got to go now.” He was like, “Let’s do it again!” It was amazing.

It’s very close to Christmas so I feel like it would be silly not to ask you some holiday related questions. So, what’s Christmas like in the Lawrence household?

Our big family is growing literally by the month – this year there’s been three new cousins, nieces and nephews born so it’s hectic, it’s chaotic. It starts quiet with myself and [boyfriend] Marty down at the beach, but then we [join in] the family celebrations for a huge lunch of about 40 people. Everyone gets along – they really do in my family, which is quite unusual, so we have a really good time.

We swim, joke around and throw someone in the pool. We don’t over indulge on food. The tradition passed down in the family has been turkey and veggies for lunch, so it is certainly not an overindulgent seafood feast or anything like that. It’s just simple Christmas with lots of family.

Do you have any other Christmas traditions?

I started a tradition within the [musician] community that we have an office Christmas party – musicians only because we don’t have a Christmas party being self-employed. This will be our fourth year of having the office Christmas party for musicians, as we call it, so that’s a tradition I’ve created. Which is a lot of fun to catch up off-duty, I guess, it’s not an awards night or anything, there’s no one important there, just the artists (laughs).

What are you hoping Santa will leave for you under the Christmas tree?

I love clothes but I don’t like shopping for them, so if someone can buy me a new playsuit [or] bikini, that would make me happy.

Do you get into decorating your house and/or tree?

Yeah, we put the tree up on the first of December or maybe even earlier than that. Our tree looks beautiful; we’ve got lots of presents underneath.

Apart from your own; do you have a favorite Christmas song?

I love “When A Child Is Born”.

What is your favourite Christmas movie?

[1989’s Chevy Chase comedy] National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. (Laughs)

What is your favourite Christmas album?

You can’t go past Mariah Carey’s [1994 Merry Christmas album release]. Definitely.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

Probably being a kid and the Santa sack at the end of your bed, how it mysteriously was filled up by the time you woke up and the excitement around that.

What was the best Christmas present you received as a kid?

Nothing can ever go past roller-skates I got when I was about nine years old. [I] loved them!

And lastly, do you have a New Year’s Resolution?

No, I don’t. I’m happy and healthy and I want to keep on doing what I’m doing and enjoying it. I want to spend December just reflecting on the year and celebrating Christmas rather than rushing around. We’re taking our time and enjoying it this year.

Aussie Aussie Christmas is out now through ABC/Universal.


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