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A Very Serious & Jolly Interview With Matt Rogers About 'Have You Heard of Christmas'

A Very Serious & Jolly Interview With Matt Rogers About 'Have You Heard of Christmas'

Matt Rogers
Jen Rosenstein

Plus, the Out exclusive premiere of Matt Rogers' new 'Have You Heard of Christmas' music video!

If you haven’t heard about this little festive celebration known as Christmas, Matt Rogers is here to tell you all about it.

Following his hit singles "Also It’s Christmas" and "Everything You Want" (featuring MUNA), Rogers is now ready to drop the third music video from his upcoming album Have of Heard of Christmas? And it’s the album’s title track, no less! In the song, Rogers explores how Christmas can inspire people to put their differences aside and talks about the different reasons why this holiday is celebrated every year.

To celebrate the release of the "Have You Heard of Christmas" music video, Rogers agreed to do a deeply serious interview with Out. During that conversation, the Pop Prince of Christmas talks about his connection to this jolly time of year, his reference points for the album, behind-the-scenes secrets from his music videos, and all things Mariah Carey.

Scroll through to read the full Out interview with Matt Rogers – and watch his new music video for "Have You Heard of Christmas" below!

Out: I want to start this interview by acknowledging that I'm a longtime Kayteigh, publicist, and finalist.

Matt Rogers: All three?! That's amazing!

I really admire your bravery in starting a conversation about Christmas, which often gets completely ignored by the media. So, please do tell me, what does Christmas mean to you?

What Christmas means to me is money! Oh, I'm sorry, that came out. As you can see in my new song, "Have You Heard of Christmas," [it means] so many things. What I'm trying to do with this Christmas album is basically drag and celebrate the biggest holiday of the year, really one of the last vestiges of monoculture, which is Christmas. For me, this year, Christmas started in June, but it feels like it starts earlier and earlier for everyone now.

It's an interesting, funny question, 'What does Christmas mean to you?' I wanted to do this show originally, and I did it as a one-man show in 2017, because I literally was watching an interview with Mariah Carey, and the interviewer was complimenting her on capitalizing on Christmas. And I was like, 'Oh, wow. I had never thought of it like that.' You know what I mean?

She kind of said the quiet part out loud. All these pop stars, they can't possibly love Christmas this much. They all just want a piece of the pie because it's one of the last remaining big pieces of pie. It's this thing where, if you make music, you'd be a fool to not capitalize on it. I think the only person who's out there without a real Christmas album is Taylor Swift because she doesn't need to do that yet. Rihanna doesn't have one because she doesn't need to do that yet. But it feels like it's this moment in every young pop star's life where they say, 'I'm Christmas now!' And it's okay.

So, I'm embracing that at the outset of my pop career. I'm saying, 'I'm Christmas now,' I'm getting right to the point. I'm cutting right to the chase. I see where the money is to be made, so I'm going straight for Christmas. It means a lot of eyes on my projects.

I want to turn the tables on you for a second…

Oh sh*t.

...and ask you what was the culture that first made you feel like Christmas culture was for you?

I think it was toys. Christmas to me meant that I would be getting a new video game. I was a video game kid when I was little. I'm not a gamer now, that's one area where me and my sister, Bowen [Yang], break off. Bowen is still very much a gamer, I'm not. But when I was a little kid, I remember when Super Nintendo came out. And when [Nintendo 64] came out, it was a huge deal, and I really wanted it. So Christmas was the day I knew I was getting it. I knew I was getting the N64 on Christmas. Even as a little kid, I knew to associate Christmas with capitalism. The buying of something, the receiving of a gift. And then that didn't really stop for me.

The year the [PlayStation 2] came out, I remember my parents told me, 'It's too hard to get, so you're not going to get it. Don't think you're going to get the PS2 this Christmas. So re-engineer your brain, because we can't afford it and it's too hard to get.' I remember on Christmas morning that year, I was opening all my gifts and I was getting PS2 games. And I was like, 'Oh, that's weird, you said I wasn't going to be getting a PS2 this year.' And they were like, 'Yeah, well, we're getting you the games so that when you do get it, you have a lot of games.' And I fully bought it! And then the last gift I opened was hidden under an end table… it was the PS2.


And I remember just this explosion of joy. I loved Christmas because I could get this toy. And to connect it to the Mariah of it all, one year, one of my Christmas gifts was tickets to Mariah Carey's The Rainbow World Tour. I screamed. I might as well have just come out in that moment, I was like 10 years old. But I screamed so loud because Mariah meant everything to me.

That was my first concert: Mariah Carey's Rainbow Tour. I was 10 years old, and it was at Madison Square Garden. She came out for her first number, which was 'Honey,' and she was in a sailor look. The first thing she said to the audience was, 'Do you like the ensemble?' And I'll never forget it. Just me and my family of four surrounded by lambs. 'Do you like the ensemble?' And that was a Christmas gift, too. So, honestly, Christmas meant to me getting toys and gifts and also tickets to my first concert, which was Mariah Carey, the queen of Christmas.

I love the sudden costume changes in the video. It feels very Beyoncé, Beychella/Homecoming to me. I really like when you go from being all dressed up to being in a nightgown for like two seconds. What was the idea behind turning all these looks for the video?

My true north is stupidity. I just want things to be as dumb as possible. And also, not for nothing, but we had a lower budget for this video. My first two videos cost a lot of money.

Yeah, the first two videos were like full popstar, reputation-era music videos.

Yeah, giving reputation. "Also, It's Christmas" is more like my pop dance club moment, so I worked with my director, Jake Wilson, on really creating that, which cost a dime or two. Then my second video, "Everything You Want," I had MUNA in that video. And I was really fixated on creating this sort of modern gay Gwen Stefani "Cool" fantasy of a romance that's being looked back on. That video also cost a dime. So we had almost no dimes to make "Have You Heard of Christmas."

But I do have a closet full of sh*t. So I said, 'Why don't we just have the bit be that I'm changing costumes? And then for literally two seconds, during a part where I sing the ooh vowel, I'll just go in this nightgown?' A couple of people from my label were like, 'Are we sure about this?' And my manager eventually had to tell them, 'We all have to get comfortable with being as stupid as possible. It's Matt, you have to let him do his thing.' I'm really happy they let me do my thing, because I think my fans know that this is all not to be taken super seriously. And maybe that makes me the anti-Mariah?

During "Have You Heard of Christmas," I love the references to Moses doing the lake, Noah building his boat, and the cousin that you want to have sex with, which are all a part of the Christmas canon.


Why do you think this song perfectly encapsulates the album as a whole?

This song was, I think, the second song I ever wrote for this original, one-man show I did, which was also called Have You Heard of Christmas?. The first song I had written was "Also It's Christmas." So I thought, 'What if we did a big Christmas special/album but it was very clear that Christmas was an afterthought? And it was more about this person, this delusional person, who was trying to capitalize on the Christmas commercial music thing?'

It's so funny they call things a 'war on Christmas,' because if you walk out into the streets of New York, Christmas is fine, girl! It ain't going nowhere. So I thought, wouldn't it be funny if we could write this big ballad that was about how, in divided times, we need to focus on the things that we all have in common? And that is, of course, Christmas. And then, as the song went on, you realize that this person actually has no idea or concept for why we celebrate Christmas, where it comes from, what its religious roots are. It's really just this completely delusional embracing and love for this holiday that we're all just told to accept and is a part of all of our lives.

No matter if we religiously celebrate it or not, Christmas is shoved down your throat. And I just thought, 'What if we honestly had an ode to that?' By the end of the song, I even admit that I don't know why the f*ck we celebrate this. I don't know why this is a day. Why is it December 25th? That's the day Jesus died, right? This is about how Moses did the lake? It was when I wrote this song that I started to realize, 'Oh, this whole concept is about a Christmas album for the sake of money and attention… and not Christmas.'

Matt Rogers tour

Live Nation

Absolutely. I live in Florida, so don't even get me started on the discourse of 'war on Christmas.' It's ridiculous. Christmas is just fine, as Florida will prove it. I'm mad, but I also understand, that you're not coming to Florida at all.


They hate us here. I get it. They hate us.

No, no, no! Listen. I have a deep love for Florida. My sister lives in St. Pete. I am in Orlando frequently, as people know if they listen to my podcast.

Yes, famously!

That's another thing about Christmas, there are literally only so many days in the month of December! [laughs] So I couldn't get everywhere. But I am absolutely packing my schedule with other North American dates. So, maybe you'll fly over… to Austin?

I'll look for the nearest date and do my best, but I understand it's a tricky time. You are famously the Pop Prince of Christmas, Cher just dropped a new Christmas album, and RuPaul just released a compilation album of his Christmas songs. I really can't think of any other three recording artists than you, Cher, and RuPaul to represent Christmas in 2023.

Well, we all got together and decided to do that. We have weekly dinners, Cher, RuPaul, and I. And we all decided this was the year we should all really go for it.

That makes perfect sense, yeah. Do you think the three of you are about to make Christmas great again?

Well, I don't like that language! But listen, I think we're about to make Christmas fun and stupid again, that's for sure. I think that it is this whole idea of Christmas: it's so big that it now can be anything. Like I said, this is an equal-parts dragging and celebration of Christmas, which I think people my age, and like-minded people, feel a lot. It is frustrating and overwhelming and annoying just how much we all have to participate in this thing.

But also, it is fun, and it is stupid, and it is an opportunity to be dressed up and be a maximalist. I love all those things about it. And as you can see when you listen to my album, I do think there's so much opportunity in the characters of the Christmas canon. In one song, I explore the reality of what it must be like to be Mrs. Claus, and I find that reality to be quite sad.

"Every Christmas Eve" – I love that song!

And then [in "Hottest Female Up in Whoville"] I explore what it must be like to be Martha May Whovier, up there in Whoville as the only single adult woman. I really explore her reality. I also have a song about blind faith on my album called 'God's Up to His Tricks!'

I have an ode to my parents on the album, called "You Still Make It Rain on Christmas," and that's for everyone who is still getting that fat check at the end of the year from mommy and daddy. I have a song called "Rockafellacenta" that celebrates all the grandeur and romantic nature of the pinnacle of New York's Rockefeller Center. We talk about the big, big tree. There are so many things that you can dive into, celebrate, and simultaneously drag about Christmas. I hope that's what my album does.

It certainly does! I love the special, and I can't wait for the whole album to be released. My last question, just because I know you're a huge, huge fan: if you could pick any song from the Have You Heard of Christmas? album to get a remix featuring new vocals by Mariah Carey, which song would that be?

It would have to be "Hottest Female Up in Whoville." The story about that song is… people don't know this, but Mariah Carey actually wrote "Where Are You, Christmas?" from the [How the Grinch Stole Christmas] film. She wrote it from the perspective of Cindy Lou Who. And I thought that was funny, because when I'm watching the movie, the Mariah Carey type in that movie is Martha May Whovier. She is the one who is the most Mariah-ish, for lack of a better term. And I thought, 'Wouldn't it be funny if she wrote a song from her perspective?'

I combined Mariah's sensibility around the time that Grinch film was released in 2000, which was sort of like that R&B, urban pop sound, along with Martha May Whovier's lyrical reality, and I had the song "Hottest Female Up in Whoville." So it is begging to be sung by Mariah Carey. I would even love it if she just took it. She should just have it. I know she writes all of her own music, but I think she would appreciate my lyrical take on it.

Matt Rogers’ Have You Heard of Christmas? album comes out this Friday, November 3 on all music streaming platforms.

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Bernardo Sim

Bernardo Sim is a writer, content creator, and the deputy editor of Out. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim is a writer, content creator, and the deputy editor of Out. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.