Candice Night and Ritchie Blackmore
in conversation with DPRP's Louis Koot
Ritchie & Candice
LOUIS: Congratulations with your new album Winter Carols! It's a very atmospheric record, perfectly suited for the holiday season around Christmas. I think your music lends itself very well for the rendition of Christmas tunes. Did you try to give the traditional Christmas songs a Blackmore's Night flavour?
CANDICE: Thank you! We were so pleased with the way it turned out. I think everything we do has the Blackmore's Night flavour to it. Its not something we consciously try to accomplish, its just what we feel the songs need at the time. The mixture between the old and new instruments, the orchestrations, the blending of the magic of the olden ways with the energy of the new. Its the balance of our lives so it reflects in the way we portray our music.
LOUIS: It seems the religious side of some of the songs (in the lyrics) has been altered a bit. What is the reason behind this?
CANDICE: We just brought some of them back to the way they originally were before the church changed the words in the 1600s. Originally these songs were to celebrate the seasons, the evergreen trees, the harvest, these were the things that were important to them hundreds of years ago so they would celebrate and create songs to pay homage to these things. In the 16-1800's the church came in and changed the words to these traditional songs to make it about what they wanted it to be about. When we changed some of the words back it was with the intention of allowing everyone to be able to sing along and not feel segregated against. It was the love and joy that the song in its purest and original form was intending to be, not being separatist, so now everyone can sing and enjoy the meaning.
LOUIS: Some of the songs on the album are very old. What makes them so magical that they still work nowadays?
RITCHIE: The melodies will always shine through, like a knight in shining armour.
CANDICE: I think a strong melody will last the test of time. Its something that haunts you, that comforts you, that you will remember and bring you to a special place. They're timeless...as it should be.
LOUIS: Why did you decide to put the track Wish You Were Here on the record (as it was already present on the debut album)?
RITCHIE: Because Winter Carols is all about community, social get together, and sometimes people who aren't there as well. And it had the word "snow" in it which sets it into the winter time mood.
CANDICE: Besides, we always try to sing about the people that are there celebrating the holiday season with you, but there are many that can't make it home in time for the holidays. Its to let them know they are being thought of as well.
LOUIS: What is the role of Pat Regan during the recording of Winter Carols?
RITCHIE: He is the third member of the band. In the studio, Blackmore's Night really consists of Blackmore, Night and Regan. His role is to appear like he's putting the whole thing together while Candy and I are doing other things. He's very good at orchestrating, which is an integral part of a lot of our songs. Sometimes I'll ask him to write for a string quartet to see how it will sound. After 2 or 3 days of hard work I'll decide it doesn't work.
LOUIS: You are very popular in Germany and Japan. How is the response to your music in America?
RITCHIE: We go out under another name. We are still working
on America. Although we live here, the country is very manipulated by the media. However when we do the shows we always have a great turn out.
CANDICE: But it was interesting that Winter Carols entered
on the charts in the USA in the top 10 and has stayed there since early
November! Its the first time we've been on those charts so that's a great sign.
LOUIS: Do you know Trans Siberian Orchestra? Your record kind of reminds me of them as they also take old (classical) tunes and give them their own make over. It shows there is a big market for this kind of music in America.
RITCHIE: No, I haven't heard of them.
LOUIS: When you pick songs for the live performance do you take into account the requests from the fans?
RITCHIE: Yes. However back in the old days, when I was in early Rainbow, I would make a point of talking
to the fans at the stage door about the lights, the sound the show to try to get a general opinion about what was good and bad. I ended up going around in circles. One fan would say the new songs were wonderful, one would say I prefer the old songs. One would say the lights were wonderful, the next would say the lights were terrible. I realised everyone has their own opinion and you can never get a
unanimous opinion from fans. Some times you just have to believe in what you're doing yourself. And what is good and what is not so good. There are far too many opinions around to base decisions on. Sometimes its better to have one opinion than 200 disagreeing opinions.
LOUIS: Do people still ask you to play Deep Purple or Rainbow songs at the concerts? And if so how do you feel about this?
RITCHIE: No, our audience has kind of moved on from that stage and we have new fans that don't even know those songs. However we do throw in a few DP and Rainbow songs into the stage set. I have no problem with playing Smoke on the Water as long as its not every night.
CANDICE: The interesting thing is that a lot of guys pick up the
CD's because they know the Blackmore name is synonymous with genius, whether it be on electric, acoustic or hurdy gurdy, Ritchie's playing is unparalleled. But many of these guys who have followed Ritchie since the early days are now married and their wives love the albums because the lyrical content is more romantic with imagery and a female vocalist. Now their children get involved and love to sing along and get dressed up like Robin Hood or Princesses so we have a very wide demographic. The older crowd loves the music because it
is melodic - we appeal to the independent thinkers.
LOUIS: I think your cover of Rainbow's Street Of Dreams sounds great! What are your favourite Deep Purple and Rainbow songs?
RITCHIE: Perfect Strangers for the Deep Purple song; Child In Time from In Rock. With Rainbow it would be
Gates of Babylon, Street of Dreams and Can't Let You Go.
CANDICE: I love Perfect Strangers too and Knockin at Your Back Door, also
Wasted Sunsets and Wicked Ways. I always preferred Rainbow though. Its so hard to choose though, Dio's power rock compared to Joe's soulful ballads? Just depends on the mood I'm in.
LOUIS: What renaissance / traditional instrument you think is the most difficult to play?
RITCHIE: For me personally, its the woodwind family.. I cannot relate to the scales of the woodwind as opposed to something like the hurdy gurdy or nickelharpe and mandola, etc.
CANDICE: I'm the complete opposite. String instruments baffle me!
LOUIS: You have had various guest performances like with Helloween, Aina and Beto Vásquez Infinity. How do you feel about participating in other people's projects?
CANDICE: I love doing it. I've had some great songs sent my way to be part of and I'm very proud of the work I've done with these artists. Actually, Joe Lynn Turner just sent me a song he'd like me to sing on which I'll be doing in the near future. When an artist sends me songs, I have to make sure that when I hear them, I am entranced by them and I feel my voice will fit. Luckily, the songs that have come my way have been wonderful.
LOUIS: Are there any more of these quest performances planned in the near future? With Ayreon perhaps?
CANDICE: The Joe Lynn Turner one for certain. I had met with Ayreon years ago when he wanted me to sing on a song of his. We spoke about it , but its been quiet a while and I've heard no more about it to date.
LOUIS: When I look at your DVD Castles And Dreams I see you have a special bond with your audience. It goes beyond just the music but it is almost like a presentation of a lifestyle that obviously attracts people. How important is the image for Blackmore's Night next to the music?
CANDICE: We've always worn the clothes and lived the lifestyle, whether were going on stage or going to a restaurant. So for us, this is the most natural thing in the world. We have a very close group of friends and we all get dressed up in garb and go out to places. Its wonderful. But we never thought that so many people across the world would be doing it as well. So when we come to town to play and we often play in castles, and you look out into the audience and so many people are dressed up and singing the songs, and the moon is rising overhead and the church bells are ringing in the distance, you feel as if you are watching a dream. Looking through the veil of time. Its such a positive feeling. And it becomes an event, like carnival, where everyone wears their own identity in a costume and no longer has to hide who they are and look like everyone else does. Its not the same old jeans and baseball cap- you have jesters and knights and monks and kings ... its amazing. There is a certain bonding that goes on, not only with the fans, but for us with the fans as well. Its like they all came to a party at our home.
LOUIS: Could you imagine yourself really living in Medieval times (playing around like troubadours)?
RITCHIE: Yes, as long as there was central heating, air conditioning, plumbing and MTV - Minstrel Television.
LOUIS: Thanks for the interview!
Interview for DPRP by LOUIS KOOT
Blackmore's Night Official Website
Candice Night's Official Website
DPRP Review of "Winter Carols"