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Photo by Eva Marie Sonzala


Free Press Houston could not be more stoked to share this exclusive holidaze mix made just for you by our compadre, legendary Houston rap promoter and selector extraordinaire, Matt Sonzala, along with five of his previous holidaze mixes down below this interview KM Anderson conducted with Matt earlier this month. So hit download, hit play, read through the interview, and then grab all the rest of them. Seriously. They’re that good.

Pushermania’s Exclusive Free Press Houston Holidaze Mix 



Vince Guaraldi Trio - Lucy & Linus (Pocketknife’s Hark The Herald Mix)
Tomb Crew - Jingle Hells Bells
Davoodi - The Nutcracka
Stevie Wonder - Someday at Christmas (DJ Jon Hark the Holler Remix)

Marvin Gaye - Purple Snowflakes
The Four Tops - Christmas Here With You
King Sun & D Moet - Christmas in the City
Eek A Mouse - Christmas-A-Come
Beat Happening - Christmas Nuhs
Dolly Parton - Hard Candy Christmas
Loretta Lynn - I Won’t Decorate Your Christmas Tree
The Fall - Hark The Herald

Valerie Masters - Christmas Calling
Willie Nelson - Pretty Paper
Esquivel - The Christmas Song
Low - If You Were Born Today (Song for Little Baby Jesus)
Ella Fitzgerald - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Otis Redding - Merry Christmas Baby
James Brown - Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year
Damien Marley - Santa Claus (Do You Ever Come To The Ghetto)
Lee Scratch Perry - Santa Claus
Bud Brothers - Dec. 25

Hardcore Forces - Gabba Bells
Snappy Jit - Lil Drumma Boy
Gayla Peevey - I Want A Hippopatomus for Christmas
Rosemary Clooney - It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
George P Watson - Santa Claus Song (1906)

The holidays are a time when stress, scandal and gossip are (temporarily) sidestepped for the closeness of family and friends. A time like this needs a soundtrack, and that soundtrack is normally Christmas music — simultaneously both the happiest and the saddest music in the world — and since 2011, Matt Sonzala can be counted on to create the aural companion to your merry Christmas. So one wonders, how did this tradition begin?

“Well, honestly, the internet plays a big role in that. Because of things like Napster, I would go search for music sometimes, and I would see some weird alternative band had a Christmas song,” notes Sonzala, “And it kind of made me start digging into the virtual ‘crates,’ as they say, to see who else made Christmas songs. It was kind of surprising me, and I was like some of this stuff is really good. When you listen to some of the old singers — Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole — all those guys made Christmas songs. Valerie Masters and things she did with Joe Meeks.

“I never heard the song ‘Christmas Callings’ when I was shopping at Kmart, but I think that is an incredible song to listen to- at any time, because it is a jam, it’s just a beautiful song. So I just entered the wormhole, just kept digging in. Literally, that’s all it was, and every year about this time I would go looking for more stuff. I’ve got records, I’ve got tapes, but a lot of it is straight up from online.”

The Christmas mixes are truly expansive in scope and content, it is almost like listening to the history of popular music through Christmas songs. From Sweet Tee’s, “Let The Jingle Bells Rock” to Giant Sand’s “Christmas Everyday;” from Ella Fitzgerald’s “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” to Lee “Scratch” Perry’s “Santa Claus;” from Sun Ra’s “Christmastime” to Clarence Carter’s “Backdoor Santa.” For those interested, all (or most) of the playlists can be accessed on AustinSurreal.com. So in preparation for these mixes, how does one begin to sift through this seemingly endless catalog of music?

ThowedChristmas“Man honestly, to be real with you, I just get a few drinks and sit down. As far as planning, I don’t know. I’ll download stuff throughout the year and just throw them in a folder, but when it comes time to make the mixes, if I have nothing to do some nights, I’ll have a drink at the computer and start messing with it. I have so much now, I have folders and folders and folders and folders of Christmas music, which is kind of ridiculous, but I totally have them. I have a ton. So if it’s night and I have time and I’m kind of just chilling out, I’ll mess with it. The best thing about the internet, is that I can make that mix and have it online in like, then, like right then.”

But there is also the angle of what the DJ used to represent to radio, something like a John Peel in a sense. A DJ was like a conductor of culture, a representative of the epochal moments of music, and nothing is more significant and somewhat sacred to us, culturally, than the idea of Christmas. Christmas music is celebratory, festive, it is also sad and forlorn in the sense of missing someone or something during a time when everyone is together, it is humorous, it is, ultimately, about the human condition, framed through a time when we are our most emotionally vulnerable. I mean, everyone, deserves a good Christmas.

“Well first of all man, John Peel is my hero, for sure, hands down, he is the greatest. In my opinion John Peel is the greatest human being involved in music ever at all. Outside of the musicians, he is the greatest person to work with music in any way. I derive a lot of influence and inspiration from him, big time, I am kind of even obsessed with him.

“I also do an internet radio show on KAOS Radio here in Austin, Thursday mornings from 11 to 1 in the afternoon, on kaosradio.org. It’s called Pushermania’s Playlist. The whole goal of it is to play new music, and if I get a couple of thousands of listeners a week, that means so much to me. It’s so incredible, and as far as the Christmas music, it’s like anything, let’s offer an alternative… And to be honest, it’s also fun for me, it’s nothing, it’s a labor of love, it means nothing to me financially, it’s just a fun thing to do. So when a friend of mine hits me up and is like ‘I love this mix!’ or when someone posts it on Facebook in December, ‘I just pulled out Matt’s Christmas mix from two years ago, they’re so great,’ that’s so cool, that’s 100 percent the reason why I do it.”

Christmas, independent of its corporate attachments, is still sacrosanct, still time for all that is precious and dear, Sonzala celebrates that aspect.

“To be honest man, Christmas means a lot to me, cause, my parents were divorced when I was like three, so they weren’t together at Christmas. I got to see my dad when I was younger, and that’s one of the few times I get to spend like a week with my mother. It’s a big deal to me. I love Christmas. I don’t care about the commercialization of it, like I don’t care, my mom’s gonna be here, all my little cousins and nieces and nephews are gonna be here having food and drink, which is pretty much the only thing I want to do at all, ever, just have food and drinks and kick it, you know, literally, and so Christmas is like a  huge thing in my family, it’s like the time we all get together for sure. I’m not missing Christmas.”


Thowed Christmas


Sweet Tee - Let The Jingle Bells Rock
Holiday Greetings from Chingo Bling
Disco 4 - He’s Santa Claus
Coldcut’s Christmas Break
Holiday Greetings from Devin the Dude
Bud Brothers - Dec. 25th
Run DMC - Christmas in Hollis
Holiday Greetings from Bun B
Stevie Wonder/Dipset - Someday at Christmas - DJ Jon Remix
Vince Guaraldi - Linus & Lucy - Pocket Knife Remix
Tomb Crew - Jingle Hells Bells
Holiday Greetings from Eternia
King Sun, D. Moet - Christmas in the City
Dorrough - I Want
Holiday Greetings from Peter Rosenberg
South Park - The Lonely Jew on Christmas
Eek A Mouse - Christmas A Come
Lee “Scratch” Perry - Santa Claus
Holiday Greetings from Lowkey
Afroman - 12 J’s of Christmas
Dynamix 2 - Christmas Melody
Pee Pee Dynamite - Groovy Christmas & New Year
Tomb Crew - Jingle Hells Bells
Holiday Greetings from Baller Craig aka Craigger White


Mellow Out It’s Christmas


Camera Obscura - Little Donkey (Live from Peel Acres)
Melys - Silent Night (Live from Peel Acres)
Willie Nelson - Pretty Papers
Ella Fitzgerald - God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen
Low - Little Drummer Boy
Dead Moon - Christmas Rush
Beat Happening - Christmas Nuhs
Belle & Sebastian - Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
John Lennon - Happy Christmas (War is Over)
James Brown - Signs of Christmas
Elvis Presley - Peace in the Valley


Ladies of Christmas


Valerie Masters - Christmas Calling
Kitty Wells - White Christmas
Rosemary Clooney - Suzy Snowflake
Gayla Peevey - I Want a Hippopatamus for Christmas
Odetta - Go Tell It On The Mountain
Marian Anderson - O Sanctissima
Mahalia Jackson - Silent Night (King Kooba Remix)
Julie London - I’d Like You For Christmas
Kay Starr - Everybody’s Waiting For The Man With The Bag
Peggy Lee - Winter Wonderland
The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping (BEST SONG EVER)


Smoked Out Christmas 


I’ll Be Stoned For Christmas
Wailin’ Wailers - Sound The Trumpet
Rahsaan Roland Kirk - The Christmas Song
Tenacious D - A Christmas Without Weed
South Park - Carol of the Bells
Afroman - 12 J’s of Christmas
Afroman - Christmas Joint
Simon & Garfunkel - Silent Night/ 7 o’clock News
Esquivel - Blue Christmas
Kermit the Frog - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Helios - Sunes Christmas
Wailin’ Wailers - White Christmas
Heptones - Christmas Time Is Here
Roger Laverne & The Microns - Christmas Stocking


Christmas Without Borders


Ramones - Merry Christmas
Eek-A-Mouse - Christmas A Come
BeeGee’s - Thank You For Christmas
Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys - Christmas Time’s a Comin’
Pocketknife - Linus & Lucy (Holler Remix)
Eddie Dunsteder - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus + Medley
Calexico - Gift Exchange
The Fall - No Christmas For John Queys
DJ Jon/Dipset/Stevie Wonder - Someday At Christmas Remix
Tommy Scott - Santa Claus Shuffle
Fleshtones - Super Rock Santa
Bud Brothers - Dec. 25th