Christmas with JT Royster

JT Royster is a wonderfully talented acoustic musician.  When I stumbled across his Christmas music through a mutual friend on YouTube, I knew it was a must feature.  But I didn’t just want to throw it up here and let it stick.  I wanted to ask JT a few questions about it.  He was awesome enough to respond.  Show your thanks to him by sharing this post (and JT’s music) with friends.  Oh and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

1) I really enjoyed your version of “White Christmas.” Can you tell us a little about your decision to cover that classic in particular? How did you decide on the arrangement of the piece musically to make it unique, yet still classic?

About 4 years ago, I had learned how to play that song on the baritone ukulele. I had recorded a fun little version of it back then but didn’t do anyacthing with it. This year I decided I would re-visit the song and record a more “up to date” version to my current style (which seems to have changed quite a bit). Also, I recently moved to Seattle, WA. where I wont be getting much snow so dreaming of a white Christmas is quite relevant! The arrangement pretty much came natural while I figured out the chords. It seems like I sing a little bit deeper in this song than I normally do, so that may have captured a little of that “classic” you speak of.

2) Tell us a little about your background. When did you get your start in music? What are your key influences in the way that you write music
I started playing music when I was a senior in high school. I started a band with a few friends playing cover songs, and we entered the battle of the bands. This sort of helped me gain confidence in singing. After that, I kept playing music with friends. I collaborated a lot with my good friend Jeff Pianki. He and I would post videos on youtube, sing/play together at open mic nights, and travel to shows around Michigan together. It was so much fun! Collaborating with him will always be the greatest influence in the way I see and play music.
The way I write music has always varied. It just depends on the mood I’m in. Most of the time, I will record the songs as I write them. I sit down hit record, and just go with the flow. Next thing I know, theres a song! This also seems to get the best performance results in the recordings.

3) “Green Eyes with a Red Shirt” has the beautiful color imagery in the title that reminds us of Christmas. How did you go about connecting the image of Christmas with the promise of relationship? Can you tell us a little about writing that song?
Thank you! For that song, I just wrote down all sorts of things that reminded me of Christmas and winter. After that, I began creating a little story including things from my life, and things from that list. Green, red, snowflakes, lights, love, etc. haha… The song pretty much wrote itself!

4) The banjo on “All I Need” is awesome. Why did you decide to base the song on the banjo?
Thanks! Actually, the original version of that song wasn’t based off of the banjo. It was originally recorded with the guitar! I decided to change it because the song seemed to be missing something when I would play it, and after messing around a bit, the banjo seemed to fit what I was going for!

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