We last interviewed Candice in conjunction with our feature on the Beto Vasquez Infinity album Infinity, a project done alongside Tarja Turuenen (Nightwish) and Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge).
Musical Discoveries: How would you say that Blackmore's Night's material has evolved over the past few albums, especially on Autumn Sky?
Candice Night: I feel like each of our CDs has been a true snapshot in time as to where we were at that moment. When we wrote Shadow of the Moon, we didn't do it to put those songs out as a CD. We wrote those songs while in a farmhouse studio and Rainbow was recording. While the other guys were doing their tracks, Ritchie and I would be sitting by the fireplace watching the snow come down outside and writing songs on the acoustic guitar for ourselves. As an escape from what the rock world had become.
So, my writing and performance on that CD was very innocent, as it was my first attempt as a lead vocalist. I think that CD has its own merit and its own feel because you can't get that innocence of the first time back. On the second CD, Under A Violet Moon, we had begun touring on Shadow and realized that we needed some more uptempo songs for the audience. That's where "Under A Violet Moon," "Spanish Nights" and "Gone With the Wind" came from. The first album was more relaxing.
Fires At Midnight was when we started adding more electric guitar into the mix. On Ghost of a Rose we got a bit more dramatic and orchestral. On Village Lanterne and Secret Voyage we had a perfect balance of rock, gypsy tavern music, ballads and renaissance based music. At this point I started learning even more of the medieval and renaissance woodwind instruments and Ritchie started playing Hurdy Gurdy and Swedish Fiddle. That's what gave us the riff to "The Circle." Those instruments allow our sound to be different than a usual five piece rock band.
I'm now playing about ten different instruments on the Autumn Sky CD. From gemshorn on "Vagabond" to a nine piece woodwind ensemble in "Journeyman," which I did while nine months pregnant by the way. And my voice is stronger than the previous CDs which you can only achieve after almost fifteen years of touring. I try to push myself further every year musically.
Why was the album released in Europe so long before the USA and what can you say about the switch from SPV to Spinefarm?
The label SPV was insolvent at the time we were ready to release and the USA label said that in order to promote properly they wanted to push back the release date to make sure that everything they needed to promote was in order. They had to hire PR firms, do research on marketing, etc. Our type of music isn't typical so a lot of thought had to be put into it for a new label who was unfamiliar with what we do and the best way to promote it.
I thought that Spinefarm was just a metal label but they said that they were branching out to other genres of music and wanted us to be one of the first bands to break into other markets. They were so interested, and we had been on Spinefarm Finland for years through SPV so that was our introduction to them. They also had Universal distribution worldwide so that was a good selling point for us. We had trouble before with some of the distributors not doing what they were supposed to so it was difficult to find the cd in stores. But now it's everywhere.
Please tell us about your personal contributions to the album in addition to the vocal parts.
Besides singing the lead vocals, I do all the background vocals, all the woodwinds from chanters to shawms to crumhorns to rauchepfifes. Recorders, bombards and pennywhistles too. I also write all the lyrics of the original songs we record. Usually Ritchie will come up with a melody line and ask me to sing along with it. Once we realize that it has promise, I will go in another room and just absorb that melody and try to see what pictures or storyline is painted in my head when I hear it. Then I translate that into lyrics that I hope everyone can relate to or see a bit of themselves in.
Usually the lyrics are based on legend, myth or faerietales of regions we have toured in. Anything from ghost stories like "I Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore" being about Resurrection Mary from Chicago to "Lorelei," "Benzaiten" or the story of "Vagabond" which is loosely based on Dickens' Poor Little Matchstick Girl.
How has parenthood affected your musical career, touring schedule and music around the Blackmore household?
I had to leave my daughter at home when she was three months old for a whole month while the band toured Germany. She was too young to travel in such a gypsy fashion. That was hard but I skyped her twice a day and recorded lullabies and DVDs so she could see and hear me when I was gone. The agent had bets that I would break down and fly home midtown. But I lasted through the whole thing and cried when I saw her again. She was so much bigger than when I left! I never want to lose that much time with her again so sheŐll be coming with us when we go on tour again next time.
As far as around the household, she loves music. When Ritchie and I play to write or practice, she watches so quietly and intently! Ritchie's been giving her guitar lessons since she was two months old, so now at eight months she is fingerpicking! It's incredible to watch and the two of them have an amazing bond.
Some time back you released a short solo EP. Are there any plans to create and release a Candice Night solo project?
Yes, I actually have thirteen songs recorded but I'll probably scale it back to ten. I wanted to release it but it had to be done at a time where Blackmore's Night wasn't releasing a CD or it would conflict. So I am now in negotiations with some companies and we were actually discussing doing it later this year as Blackmore's Night just released so later on this year wouldn't be conflicting. Blackmore's Night is always my first priority.
Have you provided vocal work to recordings outside Blackmore's Night since the BVI project and would you do more work in this genre if the opportunity emerged?
Yes, I did a song called "Light The Universe" that I loved by Helloween. It was their first duet and it did pretty well. We did a video for it as well. I also did a part as Oria on the rock opera Story Of Aina. I contributed vocals on a Russian track but haven't heard when that will be released as of yet.
I also played woodwinds on a German schlagger song by a great singer and friend: Chantal. The song is called "Ship of My Dreams" or "Das Schiff Meiner Traume" that is currently moving up the charts in Austria where it entered at #15. And later this year a song should be released on the Renaissance Faire circuit called "Come By The Hills" that I did a duet with Giacamo on.
Blackmore's Night's music has remained more or less on a constant trajectory since the first album where you covered the Renaissance classic "Ocean Gypsy." Are there any plans to cover or are there any thoughts of covering additional material, perhaps some of Renaissance's other tunes, or material by other artists?
On the Autumn Sky album we cover an old Kinks song called "Celluloid Heroes." We also did "Highland" which was originally done by One More Time, a Scandinavian band. As far as traditional cover songs we did "Health to the Company" which we heard from a minstrel friend of ours Owain Phyfe as well as "Barbara Allen," which Ritchie used to sing when we was in school.
We usually pick up songs to cover when we have our bonfire parties and everyone sits outside around a big bonfire with acoustic instruments and plays songs that they recently discovered or rediscovered. There are always plans to cover other songs by other bands. Our only criteria is that if we can't give them the Blackmore's Night stamp and make it a bit different than the original, then we usually don't record it.
There are some songs we have attempted to cover but couldn't think of anything to do to them that were different than the original, so they stay on the cutting room floor. But there are so many good ones to choose from.
Can you foresee a time where the Blackmore's Night sound will turn in a different direction, even to experiment with a different sound?
Right now, we're doing so much variety and enjoying what we are doing. If we evolve it will be a natural change and evolution. There are no plans to sound like anyone else. We have our own distinct sound and we prefer it that way.
How would you say that the internet - your website, MySpace, FaceBook and twitter - have supported Blackmore's Night's activities?
It allows people to know when you are playing their town so a promoter who hasn't advertised or forgotten to put up posters cant squash your ticket sales. People now know when you do an interview or have a video out or release a cd even when you don't have a major label backing you with lots of money. It used to be that, years ago, if you weren't heard on the radio or seen in the magazines no one knew who you were or that you had a CD out. And you couldnŐt get in magazines or be on the radio without a label pushing you with money and payola. Now, with the internet, people stumble upon you on youtube and see your video. Or they get curious and type in Ritchie's name or folk rock music in a search engine and you pop up before their eyes like magic. It's an amazing new world.
In addition to your family and your music, what else rocks your world these days?
Those are two pretty big and time consuming things. I would just add my cats, nature, and just enjoying life in general. I'm pretty excited to get back on the road!