Ah, I can almost hear the dulcet tones of Michael Buble and Cliff Richard ringing through the air. Ok, it's not quite Christmas yet, but there are some Christmas things that need a bit of preparation...
About four years ago my girlfriend decided she wanted to volunteer for an event that Iris Theatre were putting on called The XMas Factor... She didn't know anything about it, but assumed that as it was a Christmas event there would probably be mulled wine and so she signed up. When she came home that night she told me that it had been a competition for new song writing and that I would have really enjoyed it if I hadn't been busy sitting in my pants on the sofa.
I didn't really think about it again until the following year when (as I slowly became more hooked in to the new musical theatre scene) I heard about the event and a deadline for submission. It turns out it wasn't far away and I didn't have a Christmas song to submit. So I did what any songwriter would do. I wrote one and submitted it. I then forgot about it as I often do and went on with various other things until I received a lovely email from Iris Theatre saying that they would like my song to be in the final of their XMas Factor. I was stoked. That year I attended the competition, together with Amanda, and was delighted to win the Iris Panel Award and the Audience Runner Up Prize with my song The Angel at the Top of the Tree. That song served me well as it has gone on to be sung by quite a few people and also won a special runner up Prize at the Stiles & Drewe Best New Song Competition. The song also gave me the basis for an idea for a full musical based on the life of Christmas decorations...
From such pine needles do mighty Christmas trees grow.
It's now been three years and the XMas factor has given birth to two more of my songs, The Little Match Girl (Audience Award Runner Up) and The Beautiful Game (Audience Award with brilliant lyricist Richy Hughes. Not only that but the XMas factor has been a huge boost for my confidence as a writer and has given me an audience for my work as well as a large amount of mulled wine.
For those of you who haven't been, The XMas Factor really kicks off your Christmas. It's a beautiful venue in the Actors Church in Covent Garden and the festive spirit is alive and well with guest bands, brilliant singers, a wonderful host and of course lots of brand new Christmas songs.
But this year is going to be a bit different...
Laura With, the genius mastermind behind the whole concept has created:
XMAS FACTOR: ALL STARS
This year, the winning songs from the past four years (panel award and audience award + some favourite wild cards) will go head to head in a brutal contest to the death. As Christopher Lambert said in Highlander many years ago... "There can be only one."
But that's not all... in a whole new initiative, Iris Theatre is producing a Studio Recording Album of the winning songs, sung by brilliant singers and played by brilliant musicians. For me this is literally music to the ears.
As a new writer, you are represented by the quality of your work and you want to show it at it's best to potential producers and companies who might want to work with you. As it is costly to get high quality studio recordings of your work produced we often have to rely on live recordings, which, whilst wonderful simply can't capture the same nuance as a studio recording.
As well as being a damn fine album of brilliant new Christmas songs, this will also give the writers an opportunity to have their work recorded and hopefully help them find an audience far beyond the lucky audience who are able to attend the concert in person...
But, the thing is that these recordings cost money, even when people give up their time and expertise for them, studios are often expensive.
To this end Iris Theatre have begun a crowdfund on Kickstarter. They don't need a huge amount... only £2500. And £600 of that has already been raised...
I know that many people have supported my work in the past, and I don't expect you to give to every project I'm involved in, but these guys really deserve some moolah and help. If you have anything spare at all then please do give what you can. There are many new writers who need your support and if the world wants new music to listen to then this is one of the ways in which you can help that happen! There are some great perks available and I promise that the quality of the songs will be worth it.
Here is the link, please do take just a couple of minutes if you can, find your debit card and donate to a Christmas that won't be dominated by Michael Buble and Cliff (we love you guys!).
You can have a listen to the three songs that I wrote for XMas Factor here... thanks to all for supporting!!