One of Canada’s most recognizable voices, Chantal Kreviazuk is diving into Christmas with her latest album “Christmas Is A Way Of Life, My Dear” and a December tour spanning British Columbia through Ontario. She will perform several Southwestern Ontario shows, including Sarnia on Dec. 15, Hamilton on Dec. 16 and a pair of London gigs on Dec. 17 and 18.
We sat down with Chantal and talked at length about Christmas, marriage and family.
Today is rather fitting to talk to you about Christmas, because we have over a foot of snow here in Windsor.
I love it. I love it.
Since your new album is a Christmas one and the upcoming tour is a Christmas tour, I’m just guessing you have a passion for the season.
I was never one of those, oh, I got to make a holiday album. It didn’t really hit me. But our son, Sal is so into holiday music. And he literally starts asking for it. He’s upset by September that it’s going to be so long till Christmas. And it’s so genuine in him. There’s such a love for it in our home. So, I don’t know, it kind of just became natural. It happened organically. I never had this like, ugh, I got on make a Christmas album. Not at all. The thought came in and it was just like, oh my gosh. I so want to do that this year.
The timing was great. My husband was with his band. Also I had this song come to me called, Christmas is a Way of Life, My Dear. It just literally came to me in a flash and I was like, oh, here we go. It just landed on my lap like the writing gods gave it to me. So, I got to go with it. And I did. And then, we had a holiday album.
Do you have a favorite Christmas moment?
I mean, it’s all wrapped up between Christmas, and the snow, and the snow angels, and making snow men. It’s all wrapped together, I think. And food, and music, and family, I don’t know. And lights and decorations, and the kids love the hot chocolate.
And I love making a fire, going skiing, or going cross country skiing. Anything winter! Christmas is kind of just amazing. It’s like family is probably together and we’re probably taking a load off. Like we’re not stressing so much about all the regular day to day things. And there’s always generosity at play as well and its being kind to people you don’t normally have a lot in common with, or spend a lot of time with, or see eye to eye with.
There’s stuff like that probably for most people. And it’s nice to have that little edge taken off, maybe be a bit more forgiving. That’s why the song Christmas is a Way of Life, My Dear is the very focused song on the album, because I do think that if we had some of that tone on us all year long, it would help.
Too bad people couldn’t just be happy all the time.
Be a little more Christmas. One thing when I’m getting too upset with the kids or I see someone else getting upset with their kids, I say try grandma and grandpa love. Because it’s just takes the edge off a little more.
And I feel like, if you drove in traffic and we’re getting all edgy, but if you say, well what if it was Christmas Day? How would you proceed? Ask yourself to be a little more Christmas and it probably might change you a little.
You said Sal is really into Christmas and music this year, so when does your tree go up?
Well, it’s going to be up like in a hot second, for sure. And he’s not going to let us go much longer without the tree. I usually try to have it up by end of November, beginning of December. But it might be a little earlier this year, I’m thinking, because I go out on the road soon. So, I’ll probably have to get the tree up and out of its case before I leave. So, early. But, I mean, he already has one tree in his gaming room area and one tree in his bedroom. He has his lights all through his room and his bathroom are all up already. It’s lit up like Vegas. I swear to God, all upstairs. It’s crazy.
Sal is on this album. Did you have to ask him? Or did he volunteer?
No, I just went in the other room. I go Sal, I just wrote you this really cool song. Come sing it. And he listened to it. Well, it was really sweet because it was just finished being formulated and he actually lends a couple of ideas in the song. He’s got a writing credit on it, actually. It’s so cool because it’s out of the mouths of babes, you know what I mean?
Like that’s what a child would think. The song is so genuine. It truly has his voice in it, not just in a physical sense, but in the sentimental way as well. He was invested in the song immediately. It was a very quick process. And then, he sort of said, okay, let’s sing it. And I literally just do a little piano track of it and up he went to the microphone. And he was just a natural, I mean a total, total natural.
He sang already at that point. We had him sitting with me on the Paul McCartney song, Wonderful Christmas Time. And he was so good. Raine was away, and he came home and heard the song. And he said, oh my gosh, Chantal, we need another Sal song on this album. I said, I know. He’s so good, he did all those harmonies himself.
This album, it’s a whole family affair – Raine is on it as well with Blue Christmas. So, why did you choose that song?
Raine loves that song very much. And he loves Elvis. We both love Elvis a lot. In fact, Moon Vs. Sun, our band together, we model a lot of our harmonies and backgrounds on the Elvis tracks. So, that was a natural pick.
I probably would’ve had the other boys on the album too. My oldest was kind of bummed at the end. He had an idea for a song he wanted to do, but it was a little bit late for that. Maybe we’ll have to do another one.
You have some other traditional songs on the album. Why did you choose those ones specifically?
Well, I really like Silent Night and What Child Is This, I love how peaceful they make me feel. They remind me of midnight mass or church services at Christmas or just the where did Christmas come from and a sort of gothic kind of feeling you get. I don’t know, just the traditional aspect really appeals to me as well. And they’re peaceful, and they’re serene.
And there’s some serenity there and I wanted that to be on the album as well as the joyful sort of pop parts, as well as the artist part, and the songwriter part. What does Christmas make me feel like from the writer’s standpoint? I feel like I hit it all, all those spots that are important to me.
With this tour, it ends on the month of your 20th anniversary as well. You’re actually scheduled to play and end on the exact day in Midland. I’m wondering, why did you choose to end on that day and not the night before?
Well, I think they actually asked for a second night, and you never ever turn down a second night. So, I just said yes. And my husband and I are celebrating our anniversary together actually coming up in between shows. We have a little plan to do something special together before I go away.
Would it be nice to be together on the day? Sure, but, after 20 years, it’s okay that we’re celebrating together three weeks before. I’m okay with that.
20 years is amazing. When did you know that Raine was the one?
I think the night we met, we were done. I mean, we were friends first for a while. That was it. Yeah. The train took off.
We always hear about plenty of celebrity breakups, but we never hear the success stories like you guys. So, is it hard or is there pressure being a celebrity couple?
Raine and I have a project called Moon Vs. Sun together. Our film has been out on Crave now for several months. It’s called, I’m Going to Break Your Heart. And it’s about the challenges of collaborating as a couple, and making music together, and being partners. And that it’s not easy and that we have really low lows and we have really high highs. And we’re a work in progress. So, we shared those challenges with the public. You should see it. It’s really moving, I think.
I get why people quit. I get why they break up. I don’t even think you need to be a celebrity. Halfway through a fight we don’t say, well I’m a celebrity and you’re a celebrity, so let’s break up. We are just in the conflict, but I think you realize, at some point, hopefully, that the grass isn’t greener elsewhere, that you actually have to water the grass wherever you are.
And it’s actual work. So, you got to figure out how to do the work. What does the work look like? And especially now, having a family and a history together, it’s worth it.
There are a couple of realizations hopefully you can have. And then, the next step is figuring out how to preserve this investment that you’ve made, because it’s a pretty big one. And I think we’re doing that. I mean, there’s no trick. Definitely you have to forgive a lot. And definitely you have to put in the work, like I say, but it’s the minutia, right? It’s the little things, I think, that pile up, be they positive or negative.
On a positive note, we can make a point of saying I love you more, looking each other in the eyes more, going on more dates, or having more nights away together, or touching more, or checking in on each other more, honoring each other’s needs more in the little things throughout the day, spending more time together. Not just saying we’re a priority, but actually being a priority. These are really real things that, if you don’t do them, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re not coupling anymore. You’re not being and doing what that is.
Then, on the flip side, if you just think that you can say, oh, we got married. I said, I love you. I want to spend my life with you, and that’s all you have to do. Well, it’s probably not going to work. And then, I think for people who have traumas as a child, which is 100% of people basically, you need to do some work with probably a therapist or a marriage coach or counselor and figure out, what are those traumas so that I can know how I can help my partner heal from those things from when they were young and also not trigger those things. Right? Build trust with each other. And those are some of the key points, once you do that.
And I think, just by nature of doing those things with your partner, it connects you. It bonds you on a deeper level. I mean, I’m not doing that with everybody else. I’m not doing that with my buddy I went to high school with. So, you invest in those activities and those actions with the person most important to you. And then, you’ve sort of said that to them. You’re the most important thing in the world to me. I want to know about you. I want to know what was hard for you as a child. I want to see that little version of you, and see how you grew from that, and what grew wrong, and what I can fix. And I think we’re the only people that can fix each other’s stuff, actually.
Well, that’s awesome. I’m going to take in some of those because my husband and I have been together for 13 years.
Yeah. That’s tough. That’s a big beginning of breaking, actually, in most marriage units. And then, you need that. You need that shakeup time because then you can really grow. You’ve got to break it down. And then, I think that’s when you can really, really come up solid. So, don’t stop because it’s hard. I think it’s somewhere between eight and 15 years, I think, it’s really hard. A lot of people quit. But really, I just can look back now and see where that’s a big opportunity to start truly getting to know your partner.
I know you guys are very charitable and you assist in many different humanitarian efforts. Christmas almost seems like an extension of that charity and caring.
That’s why I wanted to write an album called Christmas is a Way of Life, My Dear, because we don’t just help war child, or mental health causes, or think about mental health, and addictions, and occurring disorders, and so on at Christmas time, do we, when they rear their ugly faces. We think we should be thinking about that all year long. And that’s why I wanted to make the theme of my album that. It would be like, imagine a world where we were kind, and thoughtful, and intentional, and a little woke all the time. Just bring a little Christmas to the other months of the year, I think is the idea.
Is your Christmas with your husband and your boys different from the Christmases you grew up with?
A little bit, because we are a bit of nomadic a little bit, right? We live between Canada and the U.S. So, we never know what it’s going to quite look like because Raine has got his parents that are both in Ontario and his mom comes out to California a bit in the winter months. And my dad comes to California in the winter months. They visit us and it’s all just mishmash. So, we never know exactly what it’s going to be. But we’re always together as a family unit.
It’s fun when we’re in the snow. Last year we were in Japan for Christmas and it was cold and that was kind of neat. We got some snow too in Japan. We were with loved ones in Japan. So, that was wonderful. And then, sometimes we’re in Ontario. And sometimes we go somewhere warm. And sometimes we just like to stay in California. This year we’re staying in California because I’ll be in Canada until the 20th of December, at least, if not the 21st or 22nd.