Candice Night 2016
by John A. Wilcox
I've had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Blackmore's Night vocalist Candice Night on several occasions. She always delivers a sincere, honest, love-filled response and this interview is no different! This time we focus on her 2 most recent releases: Blackmore's Night's All Our Yesterdays and her new album for children - Starlight Starbright. Grab a tea and join our conversation...
PS: How long a process was the recording of the All Our Yesterdays album?
CN: It took us a while to figure out our time frame for the recording process. When we first started with Shadow Of The Moon, we used to have all the songs basically finished; arrangements, lyrics, ideas for instrumentation, then we would go into the studio for months and record straight through. But we learned years later that when we did it this way we would get so caught up in the recording process, the analysis paralysis of hearing the songs over and over again and again and picking them apart piece by piece while we worked on them , that we never had a chance to revisit them once we were onto the next song and ultimately the CD would be finished and we would hear it and think Oh! I should've changed that part! Now what we do is go into the studio with the rough version of 3 songs. Spend a couple of months doing those few songs. Then we go on tour and get away from those songs. When we return to the studio, we can listen with fresh ears because we were afforded the time away from it all concentrating on other things. We then decide what needs to be changed, or shelved completely, or what we feel we don't need to improve upon. Then we tackle the next few songs. Doing it that way I could say the CD took about 2 years to record, but it wasn't a constant 2 years. It was a bit at a time. That works better for us in the long run, but it took us a while to figure it out.
PS: I'd like to ask you the stories behind a few songs. Let's start with Will O The Wisp.
CN: Well, Ritchie came up with the melody for that, that's usually how we work. He will come up with a melody line, and then ask me to sing along to it. Then I need to go into the other room or walk in the woods or take a drive and just absorb the song and try to paint the pictures that come into my head from the melody into the lyrics of the song. And hopefully channel the song in a way that people wont just listen to it and hear it, but will relate to it, deeply on another level. See themselves in the storyline. Get swept away. I love the craft of lyric writing. Anyway, I had finished watching the movie Brave with my children and I had never heard of the Will O The Wisp story or idea before that movie. Where they appear to her in blue lights that lead her through the forest near the ancient stone circles to a witches cottage where she ultimately winds up having the witch cast a spell that will change her fate. I did some more research and found that this is actually common folklore, the Will O the Wisp, especially in the Celtic regions. I just though the whole concept was so ethereal , otherworldly and cool.
We had the music down but I was struggling with the lyric part. Keep in mind I was working on about 4 hrs sleep a night getting my kids up and ready for school, driving to after school activities, helping with home work, doing all the household stuff then getting them to bed, I usually would come downstairs after they went to sleep at around midnight and be able to work till 2, 3, 4 am. I finally begged my parents to come over and watch the kids telling them I just needed 1/2 hr of sleep. They came over, I went upstairs and when my head hit the pillow all of these lyrics came flowing out. The channeling had begun, you can't force it- it happens when its ready not when you are. So I grabbed a pen and my note book and came down about 20 minutes later. My parents were like - what are you doing up? you said you needed sleep! I said " I know! But as soon as I relaxed I was able to write the song so I have to go record it right now! " I never did wind up getting any more sleep that day... But I love how the song came out.
PS: Tell me about Earth Wind And Sky.
CN: Earth Wind And Sky was a song I had for many years. I've only put out 2 solo CDs, and the songs from my 1st solo CD Reflections were all written by me, music and lyrics. Earth Wind And Sky is one of the songs that I had lying around for so long, but never made it onto a Blackmore's Night CD and I didn't choose to put on my solo CDs at the time. Mainly because I had tried different instrumentations for the song, but wasn't really happy with how they sounded. They just didn't feel like the sound I had in my head for the song, so I held off on putting it out till I could figure out exactly what it needed to be true to its own identity.
Later on in the year, when we were in the recording process and Ritchie was looking for different songs to put on the CD, songs that were of alternate tempos and keys from what we had already recorded, I mentioned Earth Wind And Sky. I had been to the Shinnecock Pow Wow earlier in the year and it brought me back to the true meaning of the song, the respect for the energies and the miracle and magic that is this earth, this planet, in all her glory throughout all her seasons. I listened to the instrumentation that they had in their native tribal songs with the different tribes represented and tried to put the feeling of some of their percussive and woodwind ideas into my song to bring it back to its roots. Ritchie started playing a different rhythmic idea on the acoustic guitar and it all made sense. This was how it was meant to sound from the beginning. I did the tambourine parts and made sure the percussion was what I needed it to me, I did the woodwinds. I was a bit frustrated when Ritchie and the producer made a decision to take out one of my verses. But maybe I'll rerelease the full version someday on a solo CD in the future. That was what happened with Now And Then too. I was able to put the middle part back in when I recorded Reflections and now that song feels whole again to me.
PS: What inspired the remake of Where Are We Going From Here?
CN: That was written on a cold snowy night years ago. We had recorded it as a very melancholy song after a friend of ours passed on and I was really just getting introspective about our journey through life and how sometimes it just seems as if we are wandering in circles, not really having any idea of where we are headed. It can be heartbreaking and confusing. Its an open ended question about the journey of life. But although that original version came out in 2003 on our CD Ghost Of A Rose, Ritchie started fooling around with double time tempos and really trying to approach it from more of a rock perspective. We thought it would be an interesting take on a song that had started from such a different place.
PS: What drew you to want to cover Mike Oldfield's Moonlight Shadow?
CN: I had never heard of Michael Oldfield or Maggie Reilly until Ritchie played the songs around the house. Then I fell in love. Moonlight Shadow and Back To France are still in my playlist. The song Moonlight Shadow was actually our original inspiration for the title and song Shadow Of The Moon. Just a play on words. On stage , if we approach the song, we usually do a very different version than we recorded. Its usually just me and Ritchie, and very acoustic and impromptu. But that song has been with us from the start as encouragement down this path of the genre that not many people, if any, try to attempt as musicians.
PS: How have your children changed your life as a musician?
CN: They have changed my life as a musician, as a human, as a spiritual being, as everything. They added color to my life. Seeing things through the eyes of a child is something I always tried to retain so I could appreciate the magic and the beauty of the simple things around me. But experiencing so many 1sts with your children...1st shooting star, 1st time chasing fireflies, 1st snowflakes caught on your tongue, 1st jumping in piles of leaves...its true amazement. And they are such natural musicians. We wake up singing and go to sleep singing. We make up songs all day long about anything. Our lives are a musical. It could be about brushing teeth! Just anything. Though my daughter writes songs all the time and always has. She's 6 now, but when she was 1 and a half I heard her singing to her dolls and she had made up the most beautiful song! Music and lyrics all at once. It was called Lullaby In The Night. I actually recorded it for my CD Starlight Starbright. And she starred in the video. Both of my children are in my video for Once In A Garden. We are just pieces of the same puzzle. Together we all fit perfectly and make the most amazing memories. And when Daddy plays guitar, Rory grabs a drum, Autumn grabs her plastic violin or sings and we have family music time. Its beautiful. I think its so important to have music incorporated into your life from such a young age. It builds this amazing foundation.
PS: Why was this the right time for the Starlight Starbright album?
CN: I originally recorded the album as demos in case I was too tired to sing to my children when they were being put to sleep. I always wanted them to wake up and go to sleep to a soothing sound, to the sound of my voice. I still sing them to sleep and sing them awake in the morning. When I was pregnant with my 2nd child I remember talking to some friends about singing their children to sleep (they were pregnant the same time I was) and they looked at me like I was crazy. They said they would never sing their kids to sleep because they would scare their children with the way their voices sound. That opened my eyes. To me, the sound of mommy is the most comforting soothing sound a baby can hear, I never thought someone would be so insecure with their own voice that they would rob their child of those bonding moments of pure peacefulness just hearing mommy singing to them, A child doesn't know if you are in tune or not. Just that you are there for them and that brings them overwhelming comfort. So, I properly recorded the demos I originally had done for parents who didn't feel secure enough to sing to their children. To bring their children, safely, comfortably into a world of dreams. And if baby sleeps, mommy sleeps and then everyone is happy!
But seriously, since releasing the CD, I have heard from so many people who have used it in ways I wouldn't have thought of. People who had children with sensitivity issues used it and experienced the 1st time their child ever sat through a whole meal, people who have rescued animals that were skittish from their abuse played it and were able to take their animals for a drive in the car, people who put it on after a hard day at work were able to relax during the car ride home, even people who played it for their parent in a hospice because they wanted their mother to have a peaceful and happy journey to the next world. Amazing stories, amazing people.
PS: What's the story behind Robin Red Breast?
CN: Robin Red Breast used to play inside my head every spring whenever I would walk outside and the flowers would be beginning to bloom and the robins would be hopping across the lawn. The song came very naturally and haunted me every spring. It needed to be written. So, I originally put it out on Reflections, but it seemed so soothing in its production, even though the message is very poignant, I thought it would translate well for Starlight Starbright as well. It is sort of an Earth Day message. Basically we always spread the word about respecting and protecting the earth. And this is a story within a song, of the birds that inhabit our world and what they experience if we donate take care of nature and this beautiful world around us.
PS: What are your plans after the upcoming US tour dates?
CN: We have summer US dates coming up but we also just added some more dates in October. I'm sure we will probably head back into the studio during winter as we usually do, and there was talk of revisiting some of the old Blackmore's Night songs and compiling the video footage from over the years since next year will mark the 20 year anniversary of Blackmore's Night. We were thinking of a box set, so there is work to do on that. Maybe recording a new holiday CD as well since Winter Carols has been out for so long and there are so many holiday songs that we would like to do.
PS: Please tell me 6 CDs you're listening to currently.
CN: Well since I have just finished doing backing vocals I got to do my homework for the Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow shows overseas and I was listening to Rainbow - Rising for quite a while and loving it. Brought me right back to when I was a teenager and obsessed with Stargazer.
I'm pretty old school in my musical tastes. And if I listen to or buy something current, it usually isn't a whole CD, its just a track.
Believe it or not - I have the Fresh Beat Band and the music from the Tinkerbell soundtrack in my car right now, that's for my kids, but we do sing along with each song.
I still have Fleetwood Mac - The Dance CD in my player in my bathroom and put that on with every shower.
Love Sarah Brightman - Eden and La Luna
Joan Osbourne - Little Wild One
Jethro Tull - Best Of
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