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Blackmores Night interview 

Blackmores Night
Submitted by Carlos Ramirez on 2011-01-12
You have to hand it to Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night, the husband and wife duo that drives Blackmore's Night have managed to carve out a huge following despite not following scene trends. Sure, Ritchie was already a household name by the time Blackmore's Night began, but his work with Candice is nothing like the hard rock he bashed out in Deep Purple and Rainbow. These days he writes and performs music steeped in the Renaissance and ancient folk tradition of his home country. Without the support of radio and TV, Blackmore's Night has still sold tons of albums throughout the world, with the kind of rabid fan support usually reserved for younger artists. Autumn Sky, the group's newest album, will be out in America on 1/18 and wanted to talk to Candice about the band and their unique career.
1) Blackmore's Night has been active since 1997 and in that time you've been extremely prolific. Please describe the creative process behind what you and Ritchie do. Usually we spend the year touring and playing castles and historical venues worldwide. As we travel we collect songs, renaissance, medieval, folk, traditional, from those areas and absorb the local folklore as well for lyrics. There is so much material that is rich in musical inspiration for us to delve into and take the spirit of those melodies and add new words, instrumentation and arrangements to. We basically breathe new life into timeless melodies. When Ritchie decides which songs we are going to use- whether it is traditional, original or cover songs, we then go into the writing process. He'll play it acoustically and once a rough arrangement is settled on I will go in another room, or sit outside and just "be" with the melody until it paints pictures in my head as to what it wants to be about. Once I get that visual, I translate it into lyrics that, I hope, most people can relate to, recognize themselves or someone they know in, or just be able to escape into. Then we head into the studio, in our home, with our producer and record it adding to the instruments as we go along. The song always leads us in the direction it wants us to go into. We never force instruments on if it doesn't feel right. The songs and instruments and words all have to feel natural and work together. 2) Do you ever find yourselves scrapping song ideas only to return to them years later? We have scrapped full songs and usually if we do that we don't go back. There is too much for us to keep moving forward with. But this latest CD we recorded 4 songs before we had to leave to go on tour so we broke from recording for a few months which we never usually do. It would up working well for us because we were able to review the songs we did and hear them with fresh ears. And one of those songs got scrapped. 3) Has it been challenging getting the word out about Blackmore's Night since you play an unconventional type of musical style? Yes and no. I think with this style of music, because we don't fit into a box neatly, the radio and press doesn't really know what to do with us. Honestly if you just listen to the music, it is melodic music and not extreme medieval and just because we wear costume in concert shouldn't take us out of the loop either- not when Lady Gaga wears meat dresses and Katy Perry is wearing a birthday cake. But I suppose they can't really stick us in between Rhianna and Nickelback so we fall down the cracks. The good thing though is that the people who do find out music wind up being our most loyal fans and they turn their friends and family on to us. I think that the grassroots and word of mouth fan base is much more loyal than those who get brainwashed by hearing the same song 100 times a day on the radio. Our fans are independent thinkers- looking for something different than the flavor of the month that is pushed as the latest fashion. They won't be dictated to by a corporation telling them what's cool and what's not cause they can make up their own minds about it. Once those people find us they stay with us. It's a slower growth of fans but much stronger and deeper. I think we have the only concert that you can go to and see the audience demographic so varied: the goth next to the 5 year old dressed as a faerie, next to the guy wearing the black rock shirt, next to the tree hugger, next to the 85 yr old dressed as a jester, next to the mother – I mean it just goes on and on. You'd never think to group these people together but what they all have in concert at our shows is they are looking for something new and different musically. 4) Has social media been useful to Blackmore's Night? What's your take on that side of the publicity machine? I think people have to know of you to find you on those things. It's great once they do. But it's the initial getting them to know of you or hear of you that really makes that connection. So the more we can get our songs heard or our videos played on the different internet sites -- that's what seems to be the bridge between reaching people and the music. 5) Your new album, Autumn Sky, has a really lush sound to it. What kind of atmosphere was there during the tracking? Thank you. Personally speaking, we had just finished the US tour, I just found out I was pregnant with my 1st child and it was very emotional because everything took on a parallel meaning. The words I was writing took on a double meaning. The idea of creating music, which is a deeply emotional journal as it is, was incredibly cathartic knowing that I was not only creating a song but a life within me at the same time. It's hard to put that into words. 6) Are the musicians on the record the same ones that you play out with? Yes they are. But we also fill in a lot of the gaps ourselves. I do all the woodwinds on the cd as well as singing lead and backing vocals. Ritchie does all the string instruments including hurdy gurdys and all the guitars and mandolas etc. The band members all bring something to the stage show though. Because of their varied backgrounds their musical inspirations are all different. The keyboard player plays for the church and is an opera singer, the bass player has a rock and classical background, the violinist performs at renaissance faires and the drummer plays with orchestras so they all bring their own thing to the table which makes the performance very full. 7) Besides the original music that Ritchie wrote for the album, there are also some wonderful traditional songs included in the tracklisting. Where does he find some of the lesser-known songs? He knows a lot of songs that I don't know. I didn't even know renaissance music before I met him so he has introduced me to a lot of different styles of music. "Barbara Allen" he used to sing at school when he was little. "Health To The Company" was played by a friend of ours, Owain Phyfe, when we saw him perform at a Renaissance faire. Songs like "Celluloid Heroes" we played when we get together with our friends and pass the acoustic guitars around at our bonfire parties. Everyone plays and they all song songs that are lost or forgotten or we hadn't heard of or are rediscovering. They're great gatherings. "Journeyman" came from a band we found while doing a search on YouTube for Viking music! 8) You recently had your first child. Did that influence any of your lyrics this time out? I think it did. But I didn't find out it was a girl until she was born. I just think that the lyrics took on double and deeper meanings that I could've ever imagined before. But also, now, as I hear other songs- they too have deeper meanings now that I have my daughter, Autumn. Some songs are so deep I can't even sing them without breaking down a little bit. 9) Can you see yourself ever doing a children's album? I think Blackmore's Night's style could lend itself nicely to something like that. I would love to do that. Actually before my producer left I recorded a few songs as lullabies for Autumn so I could play them to her when I wasn't singing to her and when I went away on tour so she would remember the sound of my voice and be soothed because I had to go on tour for a month when she was 3 months old. So, I have quite a few songs already recorded that I might be able to put out there someday. Anything's possible! 10) Thanks for your time and good luck in 2011! You too!