'Reflections - The Story of Candice Night'
As I'm sure you all know by now, the beautiful Candice Night is an American vocalist/songwriter and the musical partner and wife of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. She is the lead singer, multi-instrumentalist, and lyricist for the traditional folk rock project, Blackmore's Night since its origins in 1997.
Night is also very well known for her charitable contributions towards animal welfare. Throughout the eleven years of the existence of Blackmore's Night, the duo has donated enough funds for the World Wide Fund for Nature to plant 6,000 fruit trees in Borneo for the orangutan habitat; they have donated to the Save the Bats in Berlin; Save the Badgers in England; local animal charities throughout the USA including an annual invitation only charity show in which all proceeds go directly to Save A Pet, Little Shelter, Best Friends and North Shore Animal League.
After being engaged for nearly fifteen years, Night and Blackmore married on October, 2008. Her daughter, Autumn was born in May, 2010, and was the inspiration for Blackmore's Night's album, Autumn Sky which was released in September, 2010. In February 2012 Candice gave birth to her second child, a son called Rory.
Candice has now made her first solo album Reflections, which was first released in October, 2011 and has now been re-released here in Ocober 2012. All the songs were written by Candice, of course.
Chatting recently with the lovely lady herself, I first wondered (being that her debut solo CD 'Reflections' is actually a re-release from 2011) why she brought it out again? "I changed record companies. The 1st one was more of a distribution company than a record label. The new one that I'm with was able to get more promotional materials and do better with distribution. So we now have EPK's out and a new video as well. The 2nd video from the CD is 'Call It Love.' Of course, there is also new artwork and liner notes."
And with regard the new cover art, what was inspiring you at the time to pose in the way you did? "I was in full out Spring faeire nature mode. In a very mystical, earthy and ethereal mindset. I didn't know what they were going to photo shop in, but we have a great communication with our new record company and they send me whatever they are doing before it goes out to the public for approval and make any changes that I request. We have an excellent working relationship."
Ritchie wasn't involved in this, your debut solo album, as he wanted to encourage you to make your own statement. So, what statement did you end up making, do you think? "It wasn't that he wanted to encourage or discourage me. It was more than he didn't know. The producer and I snuck around and recorded these tracks before the times that Blackmore's Night needed the studio, so I only had about an hour or 2 every couple of days to work on it before the producer left for LA again."
"Making a statement is like being asked what direction your CD is going in. I don't believe in either on consciously happening. I believe the music takes you on the journey, not that you lead the way. Its more of a spiritual and cathartic experience and you don't really know which way you're going with it until you come out the other side because you are so caught up in the actual journey itself. If you can surrender to the music and let it guide you, then the journey is a very emotional one."
Combining sizzling folk-inspired synth melodies along with trademark storytelling lyricism, the album has actually gotten itself a more modern sound than the Blackmore's Night music. Purposeful move on your part, perhaps? "When I am writing for Blackmore's Night I am usually more restricted to only contributing the lyrical content. Ritchie comes up with the music, the arrangements and occasionally I will get involved with it but he is so prolific and so driven as to what he wants the song to sound like, that he takes over the helm of that ship and leaves the words to me completely. He is totally inspired by medieval and renaissance folk music."
"I listen to more varied musical genres. I do love medieval music, but I also like some country music, some contemporary artists, some classic rock music. When I write for myself, those inspirations are reflected. For example, I was listening to Kelly Clarkson's 'Just Walk Away' when I came up with the arrangement for 'Dangerous Smile.' It originally was going to be a more haunting ballady song, but when I heard her song I was inspired to change the arrangement completely. That was one of the reasons I called the CD Reflections: because each song is a true reflection as to where I was at any point on time.
Your breathy, lambent voice - especially when set against a melting piano motif and ethereal acoustic guitars on 'Call It Love' - has been described as a cross between Karen Carpenter and a young Stevie Nicks! How do you take such a comparing entity? "I think it is a great honor that someone would say or think that. I am fans of both of those amazing artists and to be compared to either is a huge compliment. But I don't take those things too seriously. I think the mention Karen Carpenter because I use the lower register of my voice more than doing today's fashion of vocal gymnastics and that they mention Stevie Nicks because we both have long blonde hair and wear long skirts so..."
This record utilizes some strings on 'One With Fate,' with accordion and violin sounds on the sweet instrumental piece 'In Time,' so how much is actually played by you? "The violin was played by the violinist (at the time) Gypsy Rose. She is no longer in Blackmore's Night, but she contributed the gypsy violin parts to many songs on the CD. I play the woodwinds so if you hear pennywhistles, recorders or renaissance woodwinds, that's all me."
Also, you reworked the Blackmore's Night 'Now And Then' (2011), which was also the first song you wrote in the band. Cutting out the more folky acoustic passages and replacing them with a deep synth presence, over which your pure, delicate vocals are now placed, what made you rework this older track for this new solo album? "I wrote this song back in 1997 when a friend of mine was going through a divorce. I played it on the piano and the words and music all came out at once. When I played it for Ritchie, he liked the song very much and wanted to use it on our CD Under A Violet Moon, but he took out the whole middle 8 part."
"When I write, its in complete story form, with my lyrics having a beginning, middle and end. So when someone surgically removes the middle of your story it always feels as if something is incomplete when you hear it. This was my chance to put the middle portion back in where it belonged so I finally was able to hear the song the way it was intended to be."
The 'Wind Is Calling (Hush the Wind)' is definitely one of the most engaging, infectious pop-rock tracks on the album - so I have to ask, what are you more comfortable singing: the ballads or the pop-rock tracks? "I think that I have a deeper soul connection to the ballads. I'm just able to lose myself in the song and go somewhere else and you could probably hear it in my voice. I become a part of that song - there is no separation. With the more uptempo songs its more about having fun or belting it out. That's always a good time, but for depth of emotion its the ballads that get into my heart."
Indeed, if this album could be summed up in just three (3) words, which three would you like to choose? "Escape from stress!"
OK, talking Blackmore's Night for a second, your just-released A Knight In York CD was recorded in the fall of 2011 at the Opera House in York, England - but why has it taken a year to come out? "Just the normal mixing and mastering process and packaging artwork etc takes a few months. It was recorded on our tour in Oct. So by the time they had the tapes ready it was holiday time and everything shuts down till the coming year."
"We actually played for 3 hrs the night of that show, but the record company didn't want a double dvd set- only a single dvd set, so we had to cut out a good portion of the show and scaled it down to the songs that we now play live in the set that weren't on the previous DVDs."
Also, with it now being released at the (give or take) same time as your (re-released) debut solo CD, did you plan it as such - or was it something that wasn't planned in the slightest? "That wasn't planned. Actually I would've preferred that the rerelease be delayed to give us time to concentrate on the promotion of each product separately."
Comprising nearly two albums worth of live tracks, they were all previously-released; save for one new song. So, I assume that this show was like a Greatest Hits performance for your fans, yes? "Trust me there were many many more songs played! But since our last DVD, Paris Moon, in 2007 we had released 2 CDs: Secret Voyage and Autumn Sky. There were a lot of songs that are in our set list from those cds that weren't captured on DVD before a Knight In York so we narrowed it down to those songs plus a few standard favorites."
OK, well, listening to them I couldn't help but hear some old school Deep Purple creeping into the background. Along with changes in tempo, new solos and a harder feel overall, was this intentional on Ritchie and your parts to "toughen the songs up," perhaps? "Everything changes from what you record in the studio to when you step on stage. The whole energy is different and we change the feel of the songs, the arrangements and the set lists every night that we play. Ritchie leads the way based on what he is feeling and we all follow along, participate and enjoy the ride."
You seem to be a personal Tweeter these days, more than you ever were! Whereas your Facebook page is more business. So, have you totally embraced the digital media age now? "Not exactly. I'm still using an old school Blackberry that I will continue to use till smoke comes out of the back of it. I hired someone to do the facebook pages cause I am the only person on the planet who still can't figure out how to do that. But tweeting I can do anywhere, any time from my cell. Its simply convenience."
If I may ask you to ask Ritchie, will he ever make a rock album, much like the Rainbow of old, or is he now done with "balls out" music such as that? "I could ask but he'd say he's getting his rock and electric guitar fix while in this band. He loves what he's doing now because he CAN do that when he wants to, but he can do anything else he wants to play while in this band also. Plus he doesn't HAVE to. It's the perfect situation for him to have that creative freedom. He hates being stuck in a box of 1 genre."
Finally, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, we here at Exclusive Magazine LOVE penguins (the birds!) - do you, perhaps? Ritchie Blackmore - "My daughter, who is 2, was watching a program on TV about penguins and I said to her, "Look, Autumn. They are called penguins!" And she turned around to me very seriously and said "No, Dada, they are Puffins." And she was right! And so that is throwing your curve ball back to you!"
Candice Night - "LOL that's true! We are total animal lovers here. Actually next year I am planning on doing the penguin encounter here at our local aquarium! I've been trying to do it for the past few years so that's a New Years Resolution for me. Also, if you ever get to Melbourne don't forget to see the Faerie Penguins! :)"
Thank you for your time today, Candice and I hope you enjoyed the questions and even had some fun along the way - take care and we wish you all the best for the future - "You too!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
So, if you would like to win a SIGNED copy of Reflections, just answer this easy question about her band, Blackmore's Night: The Blackmore's Night song 'Old Mill Inn' was heard in which Jim Carrey blockbuster film?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful signed CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before January 15th with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: SIGNED CANDICE NIGHT CDs to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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