Interview Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night (Blackmore's Night)

“I had always been interested in Renaissance music, but I never thought I would be playing it”

(September 2012, text by Henri Strik and Pedro Bekkers, edited by Peter Willemsen, pictures by Bert Treep)

In preparation to the concert Blackmore's Night (BN) gave in Nijmegen, The Netherlands (see review) we were asked to do an interview with Ritchie Blackmore and his wife Candice Night. However, due to circumstances the interview didn't take place. Yet as a pleasant surprise, we got the answers to the questions we were asked to send earlier. So I'm glad we can publish the interview with Ritchie and Candice after all. Off course, the first thing to do was to congratulate the couple with their new born son Rory Dartanyan.

Candice Night

Candice, would you please tell us something about Refelections, your currently released solo album? Who's playing on the album and how was the process of song writing?

Candice Night: “A lot of fans had asked me if I was ever going to release a solo album. I started thinking of all the songs that I had written over the years that were not being used on our CDs, but were in reserve just in case we needed additional songs. Some of them had been waiting for so long, but Ritchie didn't feel that they had the BN sound for one reason or another. So, when I realized how many of them I had, I thought it would be interesting to see how they would sound with life breathed into them, instead of just the skeletal way that I wrote them with piano and voice. I really wanted to hear these songs the way I had always heard them in my head. When I write by myself it's a very different process than when I write with my band. While writing songs alone the music and lyrics all usually come out as one creative flow. With BN I mainly concentrate on the lyrics as Ritchie is more involved with the musical aspect. So these are songs that have accumulated over the past fifteen years. I played them for my producer Pat Regan and told him how I wanted the songs to sound. We would work on them for a few hours before the BN sessions would begin. Then if they needed additional session players, he got them when he went back to Los Angeles. I also had Gypsy Rose play the violin on many tracks. She can be seen in the video Black Roses that we did for Reflections. I also just shot the second video Call It Love.”

Does the title Reflections have a certain meaning?

Candice Night: “I always think that 'reflections' is a very magical and mysterious term. Whether it's reflections in your life, in the mirror or what waits on the other side. I always felt as well that the songs you write are a sort of scrapbook of where you were at a particular point in time, and when you look back on those songs, they take you back through those certain moments as clearly as looking at a photo album. So, since these songs were written over fifteen years, they are the reflections of memories through the songs over that time period.”

Ritchie Blackmore

What were your musical aspirations before you met Ritchie?

Candice Night: “Music was always my great escape. I was in small theatre productions since the age of four and I was slightly obsessed by music throughout my life. I had notebooks covered with lyrics of songs, not my own, but of songs that I felt really deeply reflected my emotions. As if no one else understood me, but these songs. Then in college I started writing lyrics for friend's bands. But I never thought that I would be the one in front and centre stage. I was interning at a radio station and going to college for communications studies when I met Ritchie. My goal was to work for a radio station or a record company, just so I could be around music all the time. But when I met Ritchie my life took a very different turn, obviously.”

Your first song together with Ritchie was Ariel, if I'm not mistaken. How did this song come to live?

Candice Night: “Yes indeed, that was the first song we wrote together. We didn't mean to write it for anything in particular, but Ritchie always knew that I was a closet poet and that I could carry a tune. So, when we wrote the song it was much more haunting than the rock version you hear today on the album Stranger In Us All (1995) by Rainbow. The singer of the band was having a difficult time coming up with lyrics that they liked, and Ritchie put that song forward as a rock version and I think it came out really well. I was at the studio so when they needed a backing vocalist, they would come to me. It's also how I wound up co-writing an additional three tracks on that CD. They were about to fly in a professional songwriter, and ran the backing tracks by me before they flew someone else in. I would write fourteen verses per song and they would choose what they wanted out of them and have a complete song when they were done. So, my position in the music world was really out of necessity and natural evolution.”

Candice Night

Is it possible to come up with an even more inspired album after the success of your latest BN album Autumn Sky?

Candice Night: “I always feel that our CDs are just true moments of where we are as people, true emotions, and also pure musical aspects at the time that we're creating them. We're always inspired and we never set out in a particular direction. The music leads us, not the other way around.”

Would you please introduce the new band members?

Candice Night: “Yes, of course, we have three very talented musicians with us on this tour. They only had about three weeks to learn approximately thirty to forty songs. Lady Kelly De Winter is our French horn and shawm player and backing vocalist. She is also Queen Elizabeth at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. We also have an amazing fiery haired gypsy violinist named The Scarlett Fiddler and a Scottish-American drummer called The Troubadour of Aberdeen. ”

Can you tell me a bit about the choice of covers during live events?

Candice Night: “Many times Ritchie and I will put a call out to our circle of friends that everyone should bring acoustic instruments, wear Renaissance garb and meet us around a bonfire or a local restaurant. We pass around the guitars and revisit old songs that we may have forgotten or songs that we haven't even heard of before. In that rediscovery, we sometimes fall in love with songs from the past and cover them on CD or on stage. Without those nights with our friends our musical library wouldn't be as full.”

Blackmore's Night

Can we expect some more new covers during your new concerts?

Ritchie Blackmore: “Yes, because in this project we like to cover different genres like rock, pop, renaissance. It depends on our moods.”

Ritchie, for me there has always been a classical and Renaissance feel in some of the Rainbow songs, but when did you decide to walk away from the heavy rock in favour of the relaxed music of your current band?

Ritchie Blackmore: “About fifteen years ago. I had always been interested in Renaissance music, but I never thought I would be playing it. The music we play is our interpretation of Renaissance melodies put to folk rock.”

What's the difference in song writing with respect to Deep Purple and Rainbow on the one hand and Blackmore's Night on the other?

Ritchie Blackmore: “There are not so many egos involved now. Candice and I live together, so if I have an idea I can put it together immediately without having to call a rehearsal session together.”

When I heard The Circle from the new live album Knight In York I thought I recognized some traces of Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers. Do you agree or is it just coincidental?

Ritchie Blackmore: “I wrote the music for Perfect Strangers, so it's only natural that there' a style there that comes out.”

What kind of instruments you use with Blackmore's Night?

Ritchie Blackmore: “Alongside the guitars and the mandolin, I use domras, hurdy gurdies and nickleharps. Candy uses shawms, cornamuse, tambourine and rauschpfifes.”

Candice, is it true that before doing the concert in York you actually never performed in Great Britain?

Candice Night: “No, it isn't, we have played in England a few times before, but I hadn't been there in about five years.”

Who came with the idea to do a cover of the Bee Gees song First Of May that appeared on the new live album?

Ritchie Blackmore: “It was an idea of Sarah Brightman. I very much liked the Bee Gees in the sixties. They created very melodic and great songs in the vein of the early Beatles.”

Ritchie Blackmore

Why wasn't the entire York concert released on the DVD and CD?

Candice Night: “Because the whole show lasted for nearly three hours. We'd love to put the whole show out each time we record a DVD, but record companies aren't crazy about releasing double DVD sets as it costs more money to produce, so you have to cut it down to have the time code that will fit on a DVD. Since we were restricted by time on the DVD production, we chose to put on all the songs we play now that weren't on the last two DVD's as well as a few old standard favourites.”

You once had members of Mostly Autumn as a support act. This band hail from York and recorded a DVD at the same venue. Did you meet them when you were in York for the concert?

Ritchie Blackmore: “We used to see them but I think they have broken up now. We haven't seen them in a while.”

Your daughter Autumn can be seen on the DVD. How was it to have her on stage?

Ritchie Blackmore: “Just overwhelming. She has a habit of stealing the limelight.”
Candice Night: “I had no idea she was coming out at that point. Ritchie told the nanny to let her walk on stage by herself when she wanted to, and when I heard the reaction of the audience I knew something was going on behind me and out toddled this little one year old princess. I was more worried about her falling off the edge of the stage, but she stayed and watched the show right in the middle of it all. I don't know any other one year old that would have walked out in the middle of all that sound, lights, and in front of a couple of thousand people and stayed there comfortably.”

During live shows there's a lot of interaction between the two of you and sometimes with a lot of humour. Is this beforehand discussed or does it happen spontaneously?

Ritchie Blackmore: “This always happens spontaneously.”

Can you tell us about your 'hunt for ghosts' I was reading about some years ago?

Ritchie Blackmore: “I have done quite a few séances in my time and I've been lucky enough to be in communication with a few spirits. I'm too much involved to go into it in detail now, but ghosts are very real, but not in the physical sense.”

How is it to be together as a family all the time both on stage and in the writing process?

Ritchie Blackmore: “It's obviously very convenient for all concerned. When we go on tour we take everybody and half the neighbourhood. It's needless to say that this is very expensive too, but when we go touring we don't do it to make money. We're in it to have a good time, to play our music and be seen by our fans.”

Thank you for answering our questions!

More info about Ritchie Blackmore / Blackmore's Night on the Internet:
       Blackmore's Night Website
       Concert review Nijmegen 11-Jul-2012

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