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Toronto, Ontario


The portfolio of Adam Schoales, Toronto based video editor, geek, and tea drinker.


Adam Schoales : : Blog

Thoughts, process, and other ramblings.


Filtering by Category: Music

Ten Albums for Christmas

Adam Schoales

Ten years ago I started putting out an annual mix CD, dubbed the “December 24th Mix”, because I was very terrible at finishing things on time and usually ended up posting it on December 24th, just in time for Christmas morning. When I started the project the goal was simple: I wanted to make something different from the Christmas music we heard every year as kids growing up. All those radio hits, and classics that drove you nuts while shopping at the mall were out, replaced with original songs from artists you might not be familiar with, or fresh takes on the classics.

Every year this means I have to scour through a sea of newly released Christmas albums (and let me tell you, there’s a lot more than you might expect, and they’re only getting worse), along with scanning the depths of the internet for stuff people might not have heard before (thank goodness for Bandcamp). While usually the best tracks are one-off singles, once and a while there’s an album that stands out and becomes an instant favourite. So in honour of the tenth anniversary of the December 24th Mix, here’s a list of ten Christmas albums that have become staples in our house, and end up in constant rotation every year.

Keep reading for the complete list.

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Viva la Vida Suite

Adam Schoales

A few years back I put together a musical suite based on Coldplay's 2008 album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. Constructed using tracks from the original album, its follow up EP, Prospekt's March, recently uncovered instrumental versions, and newly constructed sonic soundscapes* to seamlessly blend them into a coherent whole.

Taking a cue from The Beatles' "Abbey Road Medley", as well as albums like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, the songs weave together to form a musical narrative. I remember thinking how easy it was to do, almost as if it was intended to be this way all along. I had been travelling for work and listening to the recently uncovered instrumental tracks and remarked at the beautiful orchestrations and wanted to come up with a way to highlight them. At the same time, it also popped into my head that it might be fun to make something like the Abbey Road medley that weaved multiple songs into one. The idea originally was going to be an entirely instrumental "orchestral suite", but eventually evolved into the current version after many hours of experimentation.

MKXI, made up of lots of bits and pieces and lots of automation.

I tinkered with the piece for almost a year, going through 11 different variations, before eventually putting it out anonymously 2 years ago. Today marks the seventh anniversary since the original album was released (hard to believe it's been so long) and so it felt right to put it out there again. Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends is by far my favourite Coldplay record (in fact, so much so I think I've bought it over 5 times... don't ask), and this is my way of paying tribute to that.

If you want to download the whole thing you can do so at its mini site, and please, if you enjoy the album pick up a copy of the original (if you haven't already).

And as the liner notes say, please don't sue me...

*There's a super-fan hidden reference in the "Poppyfields (School Interlude)" segment; the opening half of the track "Death and All His Friends" was originally titled "School", and so I incorporated school playground sounds into the instrumental track as a lead in. No one's ever commented on it, but I'm really proud of it.

Tik Tok California Gurl$

Adam Schoales

A few years back I put together a mashup of two of the summers hottest jams, Tik Tok by Ke$ha and California Gurls by Katy Perry. It wasn't an entirely original idea; at the time there were articles floating around comparing the two songs, and a couple other artists had put together their own versions (many of which seem to no longer be online), but they all kind of felt like they were trying to prove a point, rather than having fun and making a great mashup.

So I put on my audio-editors hat and made my own version and posted it to Tumblr. The response was pretty crazy, and all these years later it's received over 175,000 plays. That's nutty! It was even played by the mashup centred Bootie Club, which was a pretty big honour.

I eventually put together a couple different mixes, and threw the whole thing up for free on Tumblr. That post is still live, but seeing as the weather is getting nicer again reminding us that summer is just around the corner I thought it's high time we put on our daisy dukes again, grab a bottle of jack, and revisit this old favourite.