This holiday season Milwaukee music collective Meltwater Pulse released A Very Melty Christmas, an EP of six original Christmas songs. The EP spans genres from reggae to indie-pop. The hope was that the mix of sounds would represent the different ways people experience the holiday season. Of the six tunes, five artists are featured.
Producer Shane Olio first came up with the idea for the collective in 2017. “The general concept is that the individuals help fuel the collective and then the collective helps fuel the individuals,” Olio says.”There will be times when the collective kind of engages on a bigger project like this one.”
And this EP is nearly year in the making. The collective has been working on the project since early 2021. The title of EP references a local Milwaukee publication in the ’90s that was attached to Atomic Records, an independent record store on the East side.
“I remember one year they released a free issue called, A Very Milky Christmas,” Olio says. “So we wanted our title to allude to the zine, and also incorporate our name and the melting of snow.”
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Brett J.B., who sings a sad, yet humorous tune named “Further Away,” reminisces about his childhood and some of the melancholy feelings that come with the holiday season on the track.
“I wrote about the sadness many people feel around the holiday,” J.B. says. “It’s the feeling when it starts to snow, and I might put on a sweater, get some hot cocoa and like, look out the window, just feel bad about myself … But I’ve come to realize that nothing is really wrong with this sort of feeling, and I do enjoy it.”
Meanwhile, Murphy Kaye brings a more lighthearted tone to the EP, with her song, “Holiday.”
“I looked to Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ for inspiration for my song. I wanted to make something funny regarding a relationship that hasn’t ended, but you know it might not last until next Christmas,” Kaye says. “It should be played like the dream version of a Christmas party, where it’s like idealized, which is probably how I feel about the holidays, especially in Wisconsin.”
The collective also brought in Cleveland-based artist Michael Bell, aka Dr. Bassie to write two original reggae tracks all about what this holiday means to him.
“We all have our own different thoughts about the season. I know, for me, and for a lot of artists, spirituality is a big piece of what we do. Christmas is a great time for us to kind of explore that,” Bell says. “As we get older as we get wiser, you can see all of our spiritual growth and change through our music, and it is especially prevalent at this time as we reflect.”
Bell’s two tracks “12 Days of Rastafari” and “Speakers’ Corner” are inspired by his time living in London during the winter.
“On Christmas morning, all of the Rastafarians would play soccer in the park so I wrote these songs with that tradition and memory in mind,” Bell says.
Dwight Williams, or D WiZ the MC, has one hip-hop song on the EP titled, “Gifted.” Williams looked back to his upbringing while writing it.
“I grew up Catholic,” Williams says. “So in that lens, I see Christmas from a very specific angle. … My spirituality has grown in different directions. I have been recording hip hop for 20 years or so at this point, but it still influences my music in terms of the sound and values.”
Listen to the whole album at meltwaterpulseco.bandcamp.com.