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HAMM's Christmas EP Partial Magic Sneers in the Face of Whimsy

HAMM's Christmas EP Partial Magic Sneers in the Face of Whimsy

HAMM's Christmas EP 'Partial Magic' Sneers in the Face of Whimsy
Photography: Daniel Rampulla

"You would be shocked at how dramatically some jingle bells can change a mood."

Rather than any particular sense of Yuletide joy, HAMM's Christmas EP, Partial Magic, was borne of a convenient, arbitrary deadline -- crucial for an artist who says they "tend to get nothing done."

"If I can tie a release date to something weighty like the birth of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior, or 'the solstice' or whatever, then I'm more likely to finish a project," explains HAMM, aka Theda Hammel. "The frame of the Christmas album bakes in a little structural levity that's refreshing to me as someone who's prone to making sullen music."

Related | Theda Hammel Covers Sondheim Classics on Electronic Sondhamm EP

Out: Partial Magic seems a bit happier or at least more optimistic than some of your other music. Is that just the nature of Christmas?
HAMM: I think maybe that's just the nature of jingle bells. I mean, you would be shocked at how dramatically some jingle bells can change a mood. So I think the songs are still characteristically dreary, but now they have jingle bells jingling around so everything just seems jinglier.

Christmas can easily be a sad holiday, is it important for good Christmas music to be a bit melancholy?
The theatricality of the season amplifies emotions. So, whether you're happy or sad, the feeling always sticks a little harder. But the thing is, even if you're feeling very, very happy on any given year, that just sets you up to feel worse the year after when you look back and notice how you're not that happy anymore. Look how much you've managed to fuck up your life in the intervening year! You old stupid fuck! So yes, I think the music of the season should reflect that, while at the same being very jingly.

What do you think is the best Christmas music?
I'll tell you what the worst Christmas music is, and that is anything that's holly or jolly. I don't like having to hear these boomy old men singing in a holly way, or in a jolly way. Everyone should sing in a depressed horny whisper, like me. Everyone should be exactly like me. Okay but do you know what is even worse actually, than holly and jolly music? People acting like they're the first to discover that "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is poignant. "You may not have noticed this, but it's actually quite poignant." If you're going to do that song, do it happily, like Aimee Mann does. Aimee Mann's Christmas music is the best Christmas music, by the way. Much better than mine.

What's your recording/production process like?
It's isolating and unpleasant. I work alone in my room, on a computer, and check twitter incessantly, and panic about my neighbors sending me noise complaints. My goal for 2018 is to work in a more collaborative way, at places that are not my house, with people who are way cooler than me. Like Arca. Just kidding.

What's another holiday you'd release an album for? HAMM does Arbor Day?
I'd release an album for the holiday of me losing my virginity. It would be all about what it feels like to have sexual intercourse for the first time. Of course that could be any day now, so stay tuned. Stay tuned for that album.

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