The Naughty List
Fowler Volkswagen of Norman will celebrate the release of its 5th annual Christmas record featuring Oklahoma musicians with a free-to-the public concert and Christmas party from 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday, Dec. 12 at STASH, 412 E. Main St. in Norman.
The all-ages party, designed by event company Kindt Events, will include live music, refreshments, Red Bull products, and craft beer by COOP Ale Works. The first 100 attendees will receive a limited edition vinyl copy of the record.
In this Creator Conversation interview, Jonathan Fowler, vice president of operations for Fowler Holding Co., has taken a moment to talk to me about The Naughty List album and the Fowler VW Christmas albums.
Let’s start with a background question. What’s your role with the Fowler VW Christmas albums and how did the project come to life? Any magical hats like Frosty’s involved?
[pullquote-right]”I had been working on projects in the local music community for years and had the idea that I wanted to use the marketing efforts at the VW store to create more opportunities for local artists.”[/pullquote-right]Jonathan: I started the Fowler VW Christmas in 2010 with Mary Ann Osko while I was the General Manager at the Volkswagen store. Mary Ann (formerly of Osko Communications) was consulting on marketing and PR with me at the VW store (I had worked with her previously on the Norman Music Festival) and we were trying to come up with new ways to reach potential customers without resorting to traditional advertising methods.
I had been working on projects in the local music community for years and had the idea that I wanted to use the marketing efforts at the VW store to create more opportunities for local artists. Mary Ann and I had already created the VDub Sessions with Nathan Poppe which was going well and liked the idea of doing something that was a physical release. My wife is a big Christmas music fan and when I was talking to her about the idea suggested an album of original Oklahoma Christmas tunes. Mary Ann and I loved the idea and began planning from there. No magic Frosty hat 🙂 Once we had the idea for the album it was a natural fit to also hold an annual community Christmas party that everyone could come and attend.
You’ve mentioned when this project was first started it would hopefully inspire others to create their own Christmas music outside of this project. What have you heard outside the project and have you brought some of those other musicians aboard?
Jonathan: Originally the goals were to inspire others to create their own efforts as well and hopefully make Oklahoma known as the indie Christmas music capitol of the world. The first year that we did the album we worked with Chris Harris of Nice People records and Hook Echo Sound in Norman.
Mary Ann and I met with Chris and discussed the concept and what we were thinking. He got us a list of musicians and some concepts that we loved and we went from there. The first album was well received and we had a great time, and after its release Mary Ann and I discussed the idea of working with a different recording crew the next year so as to keep the musician roster and ideas fresh. We talked to Chris about it and he understood and let us know that he enjoyed the project and would continue a Nice People Holiday Compilation.
When we knew he was willing to continue and we reached out to the guys at Blackwatch. They were thrilled with the concept and so in year two we released the first effort with Blackwatch. The guys were so into it and excited they mentioned they wanted to keep it going. We agreed that we would continue working with Blackwatch until they either got tired of it or didn’t have time and we’re still working with them today.
We try to use different artists every year and what we’ve found is that bands that appear on our albums tend to continue making a Christmas song or two even if they aren’t on the album the next year.
We try to use different artists every year and what we’ve found is that bands that appear on our albums tend to continue making a Christmas song or two even if they aren’t on the album the next year. We’ve also seen an increase in local musicians that have not been involved with our project releasing Christmas tunes on their own.
How do musicians get in on the Christmas albums?
Jonathan: In years past it has been Jarod from Blackwatch curating the roster. I may give him a few suggestions or he may ask my opinion, but I’ve known Jarod long enough that there is a trust there with him and I try to be careful not to get in the way of his creating art that excites him. At the end of the day my role is to facilitate opportunities for artists through this project, not to dictate what their art should sound like.
This year was different in that Jarod had some specific concepts that he wanted to pursue and that we all were very in to, so it has been more of a Blackwatch centered group of musicians than what we’ve seen. The result I think is one of the most original and complex albums to date. I think that because it was a solid crew working on the whole album instead of several groups of artists or musicians creating a piece to a puzzle that there was the opportunity for this complexity.
How’s the long-term goal of making Oklahoma the independent Christmas music capitol of the world coming along?
[pullquote-right]”I’ve been surprised at how much attention beyond Oklahoma this has gotten. Every year we get requests to ship the album somewhere new.”[/pullquote-right]Jonathan: Great! I’ve been surprised at how much attention beyond Oklahoma this has gotten. Every year we get requests to ship the album somewhere new. We’ve sent it to folks in California and New Jersey and lots of places in between. The download info from the digital release is always fun to look at as well from a geographical standpoint.
In 2012 Rolling Stone picked up Samanth Crains single “Breaking the Ice” which I like to think was a sign we needed to keep it going.
What was the greatest challenge in putting this album together?
Jonathan: I think early on Jarod and I knew that the biggest challenge this year would be in keeping it fresh and relevant. Concepts can get stale, and with this one it would be very easy to just put out something similar every year, but that’s not what any of us wanted to do. I think Jarod stepped up big and has created something unique and special.
Use only seven words to describe each song on The Naughty List. Go!
Jonathan: Only need one word for that: Naughty!
What Winter Fun will you partake in this season in Oklahoma?
Jonathan: I always look forward to the Fowler VW Blackwatch holiday party. I get to dress up as Santa and give out records and dance all night. My family and I also look forward to the local pop up shops that have been going on the last few years. The Nutcracker is also a family tradition that we enjoy.
Anything else you want people to know?
Jonathan: We are lucky to have such a thriving and creative artists community, and they need our support in a lot of different ways. I hope people will learn about all the things our artists are doing to make our state better and do what they can to support them.
The first album, “Checking it Twice,” was recorded in 2010 with Nice People, an independent record label in Norman, Oklahoma. The next four albums were produced in collaboration with Blackwatch Studios.
“The Naughty List” is available as a free digital download, along with the three previous Blackwatch-produced albums, at www.fowlervwchristmas.com.
The record will also be available, starting on Friday, Dec. 12 (while supplies last), at local Guestroom Records locations: 125 E. Main St. in Norman, and 3701 N. Western Ave. in Oklahoma City, and in Oklahoma City’s Plaza District at Empire Slice House, 1734 NW 16th St. and Tree & Leaf, 1705B NW 16th St.