2020 has been a hard year for everyone, and I don’t think I really need to explain why because we all GET IT. So more than ever before, Christmas is being looked at as a celebration of the resilience we’ve all mustered to get through the year, as well as being able to come together as a community to support and reward each other. So to surprise her fans and spread a little joy to the world, Delta Goodrem recorded and surprised dropped a Christmas album that was aptly titled, ‘Only Santa Knows’.
Reimagining some Christmas classics through her Delta Goodrem musical lens, she’s delivered some very uplifting renditions of ‘The Little Drummer Boy’, ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’, ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’. She even recorded her own version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ which over time has become a Christmas cult favourite. But on top of that, she also wrote a brand new Christmas song which embodies the importance of believing during this time of year. So kids, if you’re reading this, remember, only Santa knows if you’ve really been good this year and if you believe in him.
To get in the festive mood, I recently chatted to Delta Goodrem about dreaming together the concept for this Christmas record ‘Only Santa Knows’, and explored the creative process behind the title track, and how it’s impacted her forthcoming sixth studio album. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your Christmas record ‘Only Santa Knows’ is out now, and it’s such a positive festive collection. You produced this record alongside collaborator Matthew Copley. What was both of your favourite things about Christmas that you wanted to capture within this album?
DELTA GOODREM: I just wanted it to be ultra-Christmasy. Like, the more Christmas sounds the better. It was all about finding those sleigh bells, and ringing bells to add to the songs to make it as big as possible. 90 percent of the record, aside from the odd sleigh bell, is me playing piano or Matthew playing guitar. We play all the different instruments, and we even got a real kids choir in and directed them. It’s all beautiful live energy, and we layered everything to be as big and as Christmasy as possible because that resembles the magical part of Christmas, and that was very important to me.
Something else that was really important to me was that it had the essence of what I do, and that it wasn’t going to date, it was timeless still, and it was a record that I could bring out every year.
TB: The original track ‘Only Santa Knows’ is such a playful track that ultimately feels like a classic Christmas song. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?
DG: I was doing the Bunker Down Sessions, and during that time I was hearing a lot of people’s songs as we were doing requests through the streams. For example, I discovered ‘River’ through that, and I fell in love with it, and it had jingle bells so I included it on the album.
But in that time I was being really playful, as I was in the ‘Paralyzed’ era. I kept singing the line “only santa knows”, and asking “is it Christmas yet?” *laughs*. I kept going around in circles with this melody, and then the entire team started singing it too, so it evolved into this snowball idea.
I thought that we had gone through so much this year, and I was talking about how my belief system that anything is possible came from Christmas time and Santa. Because, it really didn’t bother me whether everybody in school said that Santa wasn’t real because I told them that there is, and I believed in Santa, and I still do, and that’s all that matters. They would all look at me like “what’s wrong with you”, and I’d be like “I don’t think you’re all understanding me, I believe in Santa, and thats okay if you don’t”. And that kind of became a metaphor for me with life, like it’s okay if you have different beliefs to me.
TB: There have been some great pop and conceptualised Christmas albums over the past couple of years from the likes of Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Kylie Minogue and obviously Michael Buble. Was there any Christmas albums that really inspired you when you were conceptualising what you wanted this record?
DG: I think the really important part, and as you mentioned all of those beautiful artists that I love, is that it’s about being true to who you are as an artist. It’s very much a Delta Christmas record. It’s me. I made sure that it was authentic to what I do, and that it was also fresh too.
At the start of the process I created a playlist of all the great songs. I had Frank Sinatra’s ‘Jingle Bells’, I had Mariah’s Christmas albums, I had Kylie’s record, and it was all distinctively them which is what I wanted to achieve for myself with this record. It’s based around the piano but it’s got that ethereal-ness, the innocence of a children’s choir, the strength from gospel choirs, it’s got fun, and a bit of electric guitar. So I just had to make sure that it was true to what I do, but just very very very Christmasy.
TB: Well you’re also currently organising your Christmas special on Channel Nine which will air on Sunday December 12. So I can imagine that you’re going to be playing a lot of instruments live, but is there going to be some skits in there too, because you’re quite a funny person, and ‘Hating Allison Ashley’ is one of the best Australian movies of all time.
DG: Thanks Thomas, I appreciate you for seeing who I am *laughs*. But yes, this is my first project with Atled Productions, so it’s been a big deal putting it together. I’ve definitely called in some of my artists that I love, and are so good to me. I’m dueting with Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, Olivia Newton-John, Pentatonix, Hugh Sheridan and Kelly Rowland. So there is a lot of fun, and give back. There are some skits in there, a lot of surprises, but there is a lot of give-backing to Aussie families this year because of the year that it’s been.
TB: Did it feel strange working on a Christmas record throughout the year while not in the festive season? Or did it encourage you more to insert those festive habits and grateful ideals into your everyday life?
DG: it didn’t feel like Christmas yet, even though I did bring all the Christmas decorations from my mums storage with me to the studio in Byron Bay where we worked on the record. I literally put them everywhere, and tried to get in the mindset of getting it done. But it was a big project to get done in a small amount of time with mixing, mastering and doing it all. But obviously the spirit of it really made me look forward to the Christmas coming up, and now it’s so close that I’m like “COME ON” *laughs*.
TB: While you were working on this Christmas record, you have also been working on your sixth studio album. What has been something that you have learnt about yourself or music through making ‘Only Santa Knows’ that you’ve taken into this new record, or vice versa?
DG: Vice-versa! It’s a fantastic point, and I really appreciate the thought on this because when I was writing and producing my record I was obviously taking a lot of time thinking about the heart space I was in, what I wanted to say, and questioning what this record represents in this new chapter for me. The things I learnt in this new record as a producer and writer, is that I forced myself back to basics, and forced myself to only write from my piano. I stayed there and kept sharing stories which brought me back to a place where I learnt that I could do it on my own. And that’s what I then did with this Christmas record too, as I solely produced with Matt and didn’t have to hand it over to anyone else. So it definitely brought a new skill set to something I’ve always done, but learnt to completely take the reigns of.
TB: I feel like if I asked you, it would be really hard for you to pick a favourite Christmas song that you recorded. So instead, what was a Christmas song you knew you didn’t want to record for this album?
DG: I mean, I did try ‘Jingle Bells’, and it did not work *laughs*. Frank Sinatra does this really cool version where he spells it out and I thought I could do that on the piano, but when we did it i was like “this is not working at all” so we scrapped that. We also tried ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ in a couple different ways, and I’m really happy where we got that song too with it’s final version.
But you know what, ‘Deck The Halls’ was a real surprise to me because when I sat down on the piano, I didn’t think I would love playing that song. I quite enjoyed painting that one, and it surprised me because I don’t think that’s been a favourite of mine before.
TB: You surprised dropped this album to fans as a little Christmas surprise to them. So what is one of the best Christmas surprises you’ve done in the past, or have had done on you?
DG: I got a trampoline one year as a kid and I was pretty surprised by that *laughs*. Actually, one year there was snow on the lawn, and Santa left a stocking on the roof and my dad had to climb up the ladder to go get it *laughs*. We were like “DAD, What is happening?! He’s left something up there!” and he’s like “it’s fine, I will get it” *laughs*.
TB: There are going to be a lot of Delta Goodrem fans asking for tickets to your Bridge Over Troubled Dreams Tour. So let’s give the mums, dads, sisters, brothers, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, partners a quick sales pitch as to why they should them a ticket to your show next year.
DG: Oh, because it’s going to be an amazing time! It’s one of the only tours on sale, so you may as well come to mine *laughs*. You don’t want to wait until the end of the year to an arena! I also don’t think you really know an artist until you see them live. So It has everything; it has fun, it has the serious moments, and there’s a lot of crowd involvement too.
‘Only Santa Knows’ is out now!
Bridge Over Troubled Dreams 2021 Tour
Thursday 8 April – Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Friday 9 April – Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre, Gold Coast
Saturday 10 April – Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
Tuesday 13 April – Royal Theatre, Canberra
Thursday 15 April – WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong
Friday 16 April – Adelaide Entertainment Centre Arena, Adelaide
Saturday 17 April – RAC Arena, Perth
Thursday 29 April – Townsville Entertainment Centre, Townsville
Saturday 1 May – Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Newcastle
Sunday 2 May – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
For full ticketing details head to https://www.deltagoodrem.com/events