My friend Hudson recently asked me to sing the lyrics to his new song Kitty Cat Christmas over some music. It’s not unusual he’d write a song about cats — he and his wife Lauren take care of many outside cats in their mountain town neighborhood north of Lisbon! He purposefully reverse-engineered a hit Christmas song. It was released so close to Christmas that we know it will take till next year for this song to catch fire in Christmas content reels. But that is Hudson’s goal.
It took me a long time to get it together; every time I sat down to record, I’d feel like I have amnesia with the equipment, having to learn anew each time. After a long series of takes where I had this plan to Frankenstein it all together into one working vocal track, I finally recorded an entire track from start to finish that I was happy with.
Eva: Tell me how this song came about? You mentioned writing the lyrics back in 2018.
Hudson: So long ago! Back then, I had just started learning music theory and was really getting into it. One day I was pouring over a Japanese book full of Christmas songs transcribed for the ukulele and analyzing them, and I realized that most popular Christmas songs really weren’t super complicated. I know, big revelation, right? But there it is. So, I said to Lauren, “I’m going to write a Christmas song!” and about an hour later it was done. And of course it was about cats.
Why did you ask me to sing the song? How do you think it turned out?
I love your voice! I never thought you’d do it, because it always seems like you’re spinning a million plates creatively, but I thought I’d ask anyway. And you said yes, and now you’re forever attached to this thing. No backsies.
How’d you come up with the concept for your video?
I wanted to do a vintage-feeling cartoon, like something from the 1930s that Disney or Warner Bros might have done. My original plan was an animation, but I ran out of time, so it had to be stills. The process was pretty simple, I worked with a rather stubborn A.I. to generate the initial backgrounds, and then painted over them by hand in photoshop to add the cats, Santa, and various random things. The type faces are also all hand-painted. Then, I put the whole thing together in Clipchamp.
Are you a fan of Christmas music in general?
Oh, hell yes. I absolutely love Christmas music. You know that person who puts their tree up in October, and starts singing Christmas songs when it’s still warm outside? I am, sadly, that person. My favorite Christmas song is Tim Minchin’s “White Wine in the Sun,” but Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is a very close second.
What does Christmastime mean to you?
Hudson: It’s my favorite holiday! I’m an atheist, so it’s entirely secular to me, but it’s absolutely magical regardless. It’s Santa and reindeer, decorating the tree, wrapping presents, a crackling fire, snuggling on the couch and watching the old Charlie Brown Christmas specials, seeing beloved friends, baking delicious things and then eating them, hanging lights, Die Hard, Glühwein, stuffing stockings, laughing, putting scotch tape on my cat’s paws, Elf on a Shelf, the list goes on and on. The whole thing leaves me with a warm and happy feeling inside, and I cherish it each year. I also get made fun of by my more cynical friends, but I’m slowly winning them over, ha ha.
What did you learn on your journey of reverse-engineering a viral hit sensation?
Hudson: Did someone say “viral hit sensation”? Now that would be a Christmas gift to remember! Are you listening, Santa? I’ll tell you what I learned, though. I learned that there is an absolute ocean between a “good” Christmas song, and a “great” one. Turns out, good Christmas songs (or even ones that are half-way decent) are a dime a dozen, but the greats are the greats for a reason. I set out to write a funny, lighthearted song about cats at Christmastime while trying to use the musical techniques I had identified in popular Christmas songs, and I guess I did that. And people really seem to like it, so that’s great, too. Honestly, if it adds anything at all to anyone’s Christmas joy, I’ll be absolutely over the moon.