Interview by Alessandra Cognetta
This interview’s guest is someone who surely needs no introduction. We had the pleasure to ask a few questions to the lovely Candice Night, lead singer and founding member of Blackmore’s Night. Their latest album, “Dance and the Moon”, was released in June through Frontiers Records and from amazing folk tunes to carefully crafted covers it features everything one could expect from a Blackmore’s Night album and more. Candice told us about the band and their music, but she also had some interesting things to say about art in general and our relationship with Nature and how we can improve it, plus some special recommendations for Medieval music you should definitely listen to if you love the genre. Hello and welcome to the ‘zine, Candice! It’s a pleasure and a honour to have you with us. How are you and how’s it going for Blackmore’s Night? The new album has been release a couple months ago, with amazing response from the press. I wonder how has the public reacted, instead? What did you hear from the fans?
Our fans are always amazing. They are incredibly supportive and really seem to be whole heartedly on this musical and lifestyle journey that we find ourselves on.The latest studio album before “Dancer and the Moon” was “Autumn Sky” from 2010. What’s the path Blackmore’s Night, took sound and composition wise, during these three years?
We also released a “Knight in York” DVD in 2011 which basically showed the band at a brilliant opera house in England and the set list consisted of a lot of tracks that we played that night that weren’t on the last live DVD we released in 2007. We also released a compilation box set of early video footage called “The Beginning” in a beautiful velvet box at the beginning of this year. So, we had a couple of releases within the CD releases. We’re always writing, or traveling or touring and absorbing the regional and ethnic folk melodies and legends of the areas so we weave the stories into songs. We revisited some old songs from other artists and really enjoyed doing that as well. Songs like “Lady in Black” and “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” as well as “Temple of the King” which was one that fans repeatedly asked us to revisit.The album features, as usual, notable covers: Randy Newman‘s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today”, “Lady in Black” by Uriah Heep and “The Temple of the King” by Rainbow. What’s the process Blackmore’s Night usually follows during rearrangements for covers? And is there any song you’d love to cover which you still didn’t have the chance to?
There are some songs that we always do while sitting in an acoustic setting at bonfires or gatherings with our friends that we just haven’t been able to make the transition from what we hear in our heads to the sounds we can attain on our CDs. So they stay on the cutting room floor to be revisited at another time. Usually Ritchie will choose the songs that we cover, mainly because I just love to sing so I will sing pretty much anything. But he has a specific perspective as to what he wants the band to sound like and what songs he wants to rediscover.Another “technical” question for you, Candice. You provide vocals and lyrics for Blackmore’s Night, but you also play a variety of medieval instruments (for example, the penny whistle, if I’m not mistaken). First of all, how do you manage? Do these different instruments (your voice included) influence each other during composition and how?
I started picking up the double reed woodwind instruments out of necessity. It seemed so strange to be taking the spirits of songs from hundreds of years ago, and not to have any instruments from that time period added. It brings the band and songs to another dimension to be able to play those instruments. It’s great to be able to add different flavors and textures to the melodies. The instruments do influence the composition and many different ways. Some of them take you to different scales than you would’ve normally played on a modern instrument and by doing so you come up with a completely different song. For example, Ritchie was playing something on an instrument he wasn’t very well versed in: The Nickelharpe. And in doing so he wound up with the riff for “The Circle”, which he wouldn’t have gotten to if he was just playing on guitar. Same thing for “3 Black Crows”. I was trying to play a different song completely on the shawm, and wound up playing the riff for “Crows”. Then there are times we will put a solo in a song on a modern day instrument and then try it on an olden instrument and it just fits perfectly. Like the gemshorn in “Vagabond”.Is there a particular medieval instrument you love playing or would love to play?
I love the muted woodwind sounds so the cornamuse or recorders or gemshorns are beautiful to me. The rauchepfife is another one I like to play. I wish I could play the harp, and although I did it for the recording on “Fires at Midnight”, I didn’t stick with it and it doesn’t come naturally to me. Unfortunately…
Let’s step away from music for a bit. Blackmore’s Night has been actively supporting and donating to organizations such as WWF, Red Cross, UNICEF and so many others that it’d take me another whole interview to list them all. What do you think of our current situation and relationship with Nature? I think what (little, unfortunately) we’re currently doing to respect and preserve it is not enough, so what are we still missing to lead us in the right direction?
Absolutely true. We have become very complacent. That laziness is lethal for endangered species, plant life, the oceans…all which affect our own lives as well. Simply put -when the trees go- so do we. You can’t get more obvious in a way to wake someone else than by saying: we breathe oxygen, trees give off oxygen. It’s the perfect copasetic relationship. We will literally not be able to breathe if we lose vast amount of trees. Even an idiot must be able to understand that. I just keep hoping that by doing whatever you can, leading by example, being the change you want to see in the world and educating others around you to do the same -it HAS to make a difference. It just has to. I don’t sit home and hope for it. I teach my kids to recycle. To respect animals and see the beauty of nature around them. To breathe in natures mystery and magic. Just do what you can. But don’t do nothing.Your website has a section where your answer questions and another where you collect poems and illustrations sent from your fans, which features some amazing work, I must say. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with different forms of art and with your fans?
I am just always in awe and inspired by how our music has inspired others. Some like to draw beautiful landscapes and moonlit gypsies dancing by the bonfires. Some draw us. But no matter what they paint, draw, sculpt or write poetry or songs about, knowing that we somehow inspired them to be creative and tap into a higher force or deeper power within themselves is a great honor.Speaking of illustration, I’d like you ask you about the cover art for “Dancer and the Moon” and the previous Blackmore’s Night albums. Who’s the illustrator, and how does the art interact with the music and the concepts it displays?
That’s a great question. I am actually unfamiliar with the illustrator and the artwork was sent to us by the record company but we were totally impressed by it. Usually we go back and forth a few times getting artwork right, but we really thought that the essence of the band and our music was captured perfectly in the illustration. It had the free spirit but also the renaissance touch to the art as well.I’ve read in some of your past interviews that you are quite busy (to use an understatement) with your musical activity and Autumn and Rory to take care of. I wonder, how does motherhood influence you as a person and on a more creative level?
My children inspire me every moment of every day. I am constantly amazed by them and am enjoying each and every stage of their lives, what they say and do, their actions and even just watching them sleep at night. I am exhausted by the end of the day but in a good way. I am lucky that I have always been able to see the beauty of nature through the eyes of a child and get lost in a field of fireflies or the colors of a sunset. But now to visit those amazing sights, sounds and moments with my children is an incredible gift. They are ever present in our music and songs, but in a more cryptic – less obvious way. We don’t like to spell out exactly where someone is hidden in a song inspired by them. It could be within a single word.Blackmore’s Night works are mainly inspired by medieval and renaissance music. What would you recommend if I, say, wanted to get to know more about traditional music from those time periods?
Luckily in this day and age you have YouTube so there is an abundance of bands doing this type of music that you can see and then, as they all do it a bit differently, you can just decide which version by which band touches you. I personally love Terra Nova Consort or Owain Phyfe’s works. Ritchie prefers Des Geyers or David Munrow and the Early Music Consort.I unfortunately still haven’t had the chance to attend to one of your shows (which could or could not mean I’m sneaking an invitation for Blackmore’s Night to play in Rome in the future, right here), but from what I’ve read and seen it looks like quite an experience, for both ears and eyes. How does that special atmosphere come to life?
It’s been way too long since we have visited Roma! I miss Italy terribly. It’s such a sad truth that it isn’t the band or the fans, but the promoters that you wind up having a hard time with that cause us to be delayed in visiting an area that we would love to come to. I think the experience happens on many levels. We always show up fresh because we take a few days off in between shows so we are never in autopilot when we come to do a show. But we choose venues very carefully and they must resonate with the music. We won’t do rock clubs. Then the fans come with the right mindset and all dressed up and it’s a great exchange of energy. So much so that we often play over 3 hrs. It’s just a great time for us and the fans as well.We’ve reached the end of the interview, Candice. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us and I wish you and Blackmore’s Night all the best for your lives and careers. You can leave a personal message for the readers right below!
Thanks to you for the interview and for the fans who continue to support us. We hope that you are all enjoying the music and the journey and we hope to see you all somewhere throughout the years on the road… Love and light, Candice