Interview: Gil McKinney Talks New ‘Christmas’ Album Released Today & More! [EXCLUSIVE]

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Courtesy of Mandi Lea Photography, Staff Photographer

Today, Gil McKinney’s second album, Christmas, has officially released! Gil’s first album, How Was I To Know, was released in 2017 featuring some covers such as Creep, Make You Feel My Love and Haven’t Met You Yet, as well as some original songs.

The new album, Christmas, was funded on Kickstarter raising over $22,000. The album is produced by Jason Manns, who also produced Gil’s debut album, and features Emily Swallow on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.

We got the chance to talk to Gil about his new album, as well as a few fun nerdy questions! Check out the interview below, and make sure to pick up a copy of Gil’s album here.

Nerds and Beyond: What made you want to do a Christmas album?

Gil: I have always loved Christmas Music and wanted to record some of my favorites. This just seemed like the perfect time to make it a reality.

Courtesy of Mandi Lea Photography, Staff Photographer

Nerds and Beyond: What is your personal favorite song on the new album? 
Gil: Surprisingly, my favorite song on the album has been “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”. It just came together beautifully from start to finish. 

Nerds and Beyond: Which song was the the most challenging to cover, if any?

Gil: While they all presented their own unique challenges, I would say that “O Holy Night” was one that I placed significant importance in. I sang this song at my hometown church on Christmas Eve for about 15 years straight. So everyone who knows me from childhood is expecting this one to be impactful. 

Nerds and Beyond: What’s your favorite thing about the Holidays?

Gil: Family and food. Recalling old memories and creating new ones. And of course, the music. 

Nerds and Beyond: Were there any songs that you wanted on the album but they didn’t make it for one reason or another?

Gil: “Ave Maria” has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs. Unfortunately, it just didn’t seem to fit on this album.

Nerds and Beyond: It seems the music was more classic, stripped-down versions, which sound amazing. How did the musical arrangements come together? Did you go into it deciding you wanted it to be as classic as possible?

Gil: Aaron Beaumont, Jason Manns, and I discussed the overall concept of the album in detail, and then Aaron went to work arranging. Due to the time restraints, we decided to go with a less is more approach when it came to instrumentation and overall size of sound. Half of the songs are more straight forward and traditional in their arrangement, while the other half are very much out of the box. But it is really about the piano and the voice.

Courtesy of Mandi Lea Photography, Staff Photographer
Nerds and Beyond: Emily Swallow and Jason Manns are featured on this album. Did you choose a song together, or did you already have the songs in mind?

Gil: I chose “Merry Christmas Baby” to do with Jason because I love Elvis’s version and I wanted a more upbeat track. I thought Jason’s voice would sound great and he did not disappoint. As for Emily, I have always loved her voice and immediately thought of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. We did, however, change the lyrics to make it a bit more consensual in its tone. Both of these duets were filled out nicely with the addition of drums and bass.

Nerds and Beyond: Are you interested in writing any more original music in the future?
Gil: I am absolutely interested and intend on writing more original music in the near future. Writing has never come easily for me. Sitting down and taking a chance is the hardest part!

Courtesy of Mandi Lea Photography, Staff Photographer

Nerds and Beyond: We also wanted to throw in some fun nerdy questions. So, what is your favorite superhero?
Gil: Batman.

Nerds and Beyond: What do you “nerd out” to, what are you a fan of?

Gil: Classic Cars.

Nerds and Beyond: One band you play on repeat?

Gil: Coldplay.

Nerds and Beyond: A lot of people have a comfort food, do you have a comfort song?

Gil: “Angels Flying Too Close To The Ground” – Willie Nelson.

Nerds and Beyond: Lastly, anything else you’d like to share?
Gil: I am so humbled and grateful for all the support that the fans have given me over the past four years. They are the reason that music has become a huge part of my life again. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

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By Briar
Briar is the Editor-in-Chief of Nerds and Beyond. She has been running the site since 2015 with the goal of being a unique, professional news site dedicated to all the things she loved - and providing fans with the best content available. Briar oversees the day-to-day operations and runs all of the social media. She loves all things Disney, Star Wars, Supernatural and anything tech related. You can follow her @thebriarroseee.
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