Grand — whose debut album All American Boy bowed at No. 3 on the Independent Albums chart earlier in 2015 — tells Billboard the self-released project came together, from start to finish, in less than four days. “I feel really good about it,” Grand says, “and hopefully it will spread a lot of warm, holiday cheer.”
“On Thursday [Dec. 17] I was in my basement jamming and I started playing [‘All I Want…’],” he says, “and I was like, ‘You know what, I should do a Christmas song.’ And then I so I called up Alana [Mulford, Grand’s manager] and my video editor and director [John Lavin], and I was just like, ‘We gotta do this.’”
The catch? Grand wanted to get it done by Monday. He and his team were working against the clock — after all, there is only so much interest in holiday music after the Christmas holiday has passed.
“I recorded the piano and the vocals back at my place [outside of Chicago] on Friday, and then edited them on the plane ride over [to Los Angeles].”
Grand’s recording is inspired by the arrangement for Michael Buble’s 2011 cover, which Grand played for the first time live on Dec. 7 at the Richmond/ERMET AIDS Foundation benefit in San Francisco.
“I thought it was a refreshing take on it, because everyone’s used to Mariah Carey’s version,” which Grand calls a “modern classic.” He adds that “Buble’s arrangement is a little different, and my arrangement is even different from his — especially the high notes.”
It’s one thing to record a song for a quick turnaround release, but another to shoot and edit a new music video in a couple days.
“It was a big challenge,” Grand says of the whirlwind production, “but it was also really really fun.”
The video showcases of a series of romantic holiday-themed sequences between Grand and his co-star, actor Trevor LaPaglia — complete with a was-it-all-a-dream ending.
“It came together only because of all the great people that I have with me, especially my director John Lavin. He actually just directed my ‘We Are the Night’ video. I called him two days before we [shot ‘All I Want…’] and he’s like, ‘Alright, well I’m in Palm Springs, so just come out to my place and I’ll see what I can do.’”
As for the clip’s co-star, LaPaglia, he’s someone that Grand had “met a couple times” when he’s visited Los Angeles. “We have some mutual friends. I remembered that he was an actor, so he was my first choice. So I Facebook messaged him and said, ‘What are you doing on Saturday?’ And this was on Friday afternoon. And he’s like, ‘Well, I work… what’s up?’ I said, ‘I want you to be in my music video.’ And so he immediately said, ‘Yeah!’ So he drove out to Palm Springs the next day, and we met out there and made this great video.”
“I got so lucky with him. I didn’t realize that he was such a skilled director as well, so he was incredibly valuable. Not just in front of the camera, but behind it too. He did things with lighting… he just really took the initiative, above and beyond the call of duty.”
Grand’s cover of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is available for purchase via Bandcamp.