This holiday season, rising Irish artists Craig Cooney & Rowlette are spreading the festive spirit with their new track “December”. Released an exact month before Christmas Day, the track is a heartfelt, uplifting fusion of hip-hop and pop. It reflects on the past year and the ups and downs it’s brought. What’s more, Rowlette’s smooth, melodic vocals compliment Craig’s honest rap verses in a way that only the best know how.
She is so right when Rowlette says, “This might sound a bit odd but I wanted a less optimistic Christmas song! Every year, there’s so much pressure for everyone to have the best time ever at Christmas, but the reality is Christmas can be really hard for people. Whether it’s financial difficulties, an empty space at the table, or just the trials and tribulations of life, we wanted to write a Christmas song that’s a bit more real.”
Indeed, this is not an ordinary Christmas song. It includes a powerful piano, for sure, but the tone is nostalgic and a bit sad. Nevertheless, the lyrics are a call for encouragement, finding the perfect balance between nostalgia and hopefulness in the hit. Obviously, the Covid-19 situation adds even more meaning to the song, as we are currently passing through tough times. However, 2020 has been a big year for both artists.
December marks indie-pop artist Rowlette’s fourth release this year, with previous singles being added to Spotify editorial playlists (including Fresh Pop, Pop Right Now and New Music Friday), performing alongside Jack L, being the RTE Culture Tune of the Day twice and packing out her first headline show.
Craig Cooney has been pursuing music professionally for the past three years and has multiple headline shows under his belt. His fifth ever show was in the Olympia Theatre supporting Gavin James. For those that have never heard about Craig, he is an unique artist who tells stories through his songs and has gained popularity through his freestyling. This year, Craig released multiple singles as well as founding a cypher series featuring local artists. Check this article out to listen to his previous release, Better Than This and to know more about this Irish rapper.
Now that we know Craig Cooney… who is Rowlette?
The emergent musician was born and raised in Ballina (Co. Mayo), a small town in the West. “Coming to Dublin sure was a shock to the system, but I really appreciate the music scene that’s been cultivated here”, Rowlette says.
She has been singing for as long as she can remember, mostly with a hairbrush in front of the mirror when she was young. Also, the singer started playing guitar at the age of 12 and hasn’t been able to stop since then. In her own words,“I was always singing when I was little, but I’ve no idea if I was actually any good, more than likely it was awful. When I was about 12, I started begging my parents for guitar lessons, so I could accompany myself while I sang. Like most things at that age, they assumed I would try it for a few weeks and quit, but much to everyone’s dismay I kept it up and continued to just make lots of loud noise forever more after that!!”.
What’s more, the talented musician is a very honest songwriter too, “I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember, but was too scared to sing them for anyone for a long time. When you sing your own song, you’re really showing someone the inside of your mind and it’s a very vulnerable experience. Over the years, though, I’ve realised that it’s that vulnerability that people appreciate most, and it gives the listener a unique escape”, she states.
So, how was the song born?
Craig’s manager Colm was playing a track of Craig’s in the car to Rowlette and she was immediately drawn to his sound. Craig’s reaction was something similar- upon hearing Rowlette’s music he was interested in a collaboration, and the two started writing together.
Rowlette tells me of Craig, “It’s so refreshing to hear such positive messages from a hip hop artist, and an Irish one at that. I basically demanded that Colm get us on a track together! Luckily, Craig happened to like my music too and it all came together quite fast. So due to lockdown, I met Craig over zoom!”
Craig says, “We come from different styles of music and I think our sounds really compliment each other. Most of the process was over zoom, Rowlette and I hadn’t met before we started writing, so it was a unique experience!”
About the songwriting process, Rowlette goes on, “It worked surprisingly well though. Craig has such a great attitude and the team was amazing from the start (Colm Slattery and Cormac Kavanagh), so we were able to write the song quite smoothly online.
December, the Christmas song
Produced by Cormac Kavanagh, mixed by Hugh O’Neill and mastered by Fergal Davis, December is a melancholy reversal of a typical holiday song. Now is the time to have a listen to it:
Rowlette tells me that, last year, her brother challenged her to write a less optimistic Christmas song, which she had started in January, “I loved that idea because I think Christmas can be so hard, that all this crazily-optimistic music can make it even harder. I just wanted something a bit more real”.
She goes on with, “I suggested to the guys we do a Christmas song, and while I think they thought I was a bit mad at the start, they were really open to the idea and we started working on it right away. Everything was so new to all of us: the hip hop/pop collaboration, working over zoom and of course, writing a Christmas song! It was definitely a challenge, but the team was so great that it was a really enjoyable process. I really couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with, and I think we are all pretty happy with the result!
About the song, Craig says, “This year has been crazy to say the least, and I’m sure this Christmas will be different. Despite the tough times, I hope everyone will get to spend some quality time at home with their families and remember what’s really important.”
Paying attention to the lyrics
Something characteristic of Craig’s raps is his constant evocation of living in the moment of now. To enjoy every second without worrying too much about the next problem. Therefore, the following verse perfectly matches with both artists:
They call it the present, cause this moments a gift
We won’t take this time for granted
Here to grow up and live
Learn from experience I mean we’re blessed to be here
Hope next years filled with love and laughter – cheers
With this track, the artists are spreading a message of hope and love after all the Covid-19 situation.
Heaven knows that this year has shown both good and the bad
Because there’s nothing sadder than seeing the empty chairs on the table.
To all the friends we made, and fortunes we have lost
To the souls that have departed, you are gone but not forgot
What are your thoughts about this tune? Any favourite Christmas song you would like to recommend us? Have a lovely weekend you all!
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