Dollars to Pounds: Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler

December 15, 2011

It’s Christmas! So instead of writing about new music from the UK I decided to share a cup of tea with Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler from Ash to talk about their winter warmer of a record, “This Is Christmas.” It features synthy new wave weirdness in the form of  “Zombie Christmas,” the Beach Boys-styled bop of “Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing),” plus harmonies, sleigh bells, strings and puns a plenty.

And to think, without the effects of global warming this collaboration might never have come to pass. Due to the last winter’s freakishly heavy snowfall the couple found themselves housebound in the Sussex countryside. Bored of dozing in front of Jean Cocteau movies, Emmy and Tim started writing music and this album is the fruits of their isolation. Check out an acoustic rendition of “Christmas Moon,” a FADER exclusive, above.

Besides making an album what else did you do? EMMY: We just decided to have a fake Christmas. I made mulled wine and mince pies from scratch. It was boring being stuck in doors. TIM: We used our time well. We made snowmen named Asshole and Asshole Jr. EMMY: We played this Wheeler family game called Golden Balls where you throw Christmas baubles at the sofa. We broke a lot of baubles. It’s not the kind of game where the best person wins. It’s the kind of game where the carpet is in charge.

What would your ideal Christmas consist of? EMMY: I quite liked last Christmas. I liked putting things together from the store cupboard and feeling really safe and really alone. I grew up in Asia and I’ve had some really hot Christmases and that’s pretty cool too. Like going to a pool at hotel is sweet! In Hong Kong everyone goes to hotels to hang out. Inside it’s decked out like “Home Alone 2” – a huge Christmas tree and then you go outside you go to the pool.

What’s your favourite Christmas song? EMMY: I really like Christmas number ones that aren’t necessarily Christmas songs, like The Pet Shop Boys’ “Always on My Mind”. TIM: That reminds me of being a kid. I like all the ’70s ones like “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” by Wizzard and Slade. EMMY: I like the really hard to find ones that you have to go on a blog and then link to another blog, like The Waitresses’s “Christmas Wrapping” and The Long Blondes’ Christmas song.

I didn’t know they did a Christmas song. EMMY: I know! Only I know about it! In the song Christmas is canceled because her boyfriend’s a dickhead. It sounds a bit like Elvis Costello. Also, anything by Phil Spector. He owns it. TIM: You can’t beat the cheesy ’80s ones like “Last Christmas”. There’s some really funny reggae Christmas songs. EMMY: Oh yeah! Tim made a Christmas playlist for our fake Christmas. TIM: It was called We Wish You a Reggae Christmas and a Dancehall New Year.

Is it your favorite holiday? TIM: I’m a sucker for the summer holidays, but I think Christmas is the most important because it’s the one that lifts you up in the darkest time of the year. It serves the greatest purpose. It brings people together. EMMY: We came up with a few different names yesterday in case people don’t celebrate Christmas, so we could call it the Non-Denominational Winter Festival.

Would you ever dress up as a sexy Santa or a naughty elf? EMMY: I never do sexy costumes. I hate them. TIM: I think I’d be a good little elf. I’m not ruling it out.

Do you ever have any new year’s resolutions? EMMY: I think I do, but they’re really practical. Like this January I have to throw out some CDs. No one commits to a whole year of resolutions. I don’t even remember by February what I said I’d do. TIM: My birthday is January 4th so for me the end of the year is really tied in with getting older. I’ve definitely made resolutions in the past but this year I’m not going to bother.

How do you celebrate your birthday? Everyone has alcohol poisoning by that point. TIM: Yeah sometimes I wait till the end of January and have a party then. EMMY: January is when you need to drink. December is fun because everyone’s out and it’s nice. January you sit around alone in your house, what else are you supposed to do? TIM: I used to never remember January because my parents used to buy me boxes of wine for Christmas and then January just wouldn’t exist.

When did you first sing together? EMMY: November 2009. There’s a video of it. TIM: That’s when we first met actually, singing together.

Was it love at first sight? EMMY: No because I was engaged. And my boyfriend was there. TIM: It was definitely singing love at first sight. We just clicked in a really lovely way. We were filming for an Ash documentary and we played an Ash song and a Strokes song.

What are your hopes for 2012? EMMY: I really don’t want there to be an apocalypse. That’s my resolution, don’t get involved in any apocalypse. I’m just going to sit still for a year in a basement. Sorry guys, not this year.

From The Collection:

Dollars To Pounds
Dollars to Pounds: Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler