Actress Zooey Deschanel and singer/songwriter M. Ward have been making music for a decade under the name She & Him.
In that period, the duo has released six albums — two of them holiday-themed. The band’s latest is called “Christmas Party,” featuring cover songs of some classic and obscure holiday tunes.
The Frame’s John Horn spoke with Deschanel and Ward about their love for Christmas songs and the difficulty of writing new ones.
On why they decided to make another Christmas album
Deschanel: There's so much good material that we kept hearing, stuff that we [thought], Aw, I wish we put that on the (last) Christmas record. So then we were like, Let's just make another one!
Ward: There's also this emotional well that you can very easily access when it comes to Christmas music, because it's memories of when you were a kid. Sometimes [there's] a song you wouldn't think would be emotional; Zooey is very good at bringing that into the song.
"Silver Bells" comes to mind. We covered that one on our previous Christmas record. I remember Zooey singing it, and it's actually a beautiful song, but that's one of Zooey's many skills.
On Zooey Deschanel's early passion for music
Deschanel: I was singing publicly from the time I was a little girl and I did musical theater. And I was writing music when I was pretty young, and doing musical performances that were separate from my theater stuff. I just happened to start acting professionally first. The transition from already [being] known as an actor to being known as a musician, it's a little bit treacherous.
It's just if someone hasn't heard you and doesn't know if you're a good musician, the assumption is always that actors have a lot of vanity, maybe? And they might do things in sort of a vanity thing. So that's why I was like, If nobody ever found out it was me on She & Him, that would be okay.
So we released our first record. When we sent it out to press we didn't say who was on it, and that was actually a good thing.
On the challenges of writing their own Christmas song with "Snow Queen" from the album Volume 3
Deschanel: I actually initially started ["Snow Queen"] as a Christmas song, but it just came out way darker than I meant it to. It made me realize how difficult it is to write a Christmas song because there are some realities to the world that [are] juxtaposed to the Christmas fantasy.
[Matt] and I were doing a holiday medley on a talk show, and there's a lyric: "Santa Claus has got a toy for every good girl and good little boy." And I was like, But he won't! Some kids don't get toys! And then I got really sad. This is why I can't write my own Christmas songs.
She & Him's latest album, "Christmas Party," is out now.