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Blackmore's Night is guitar legen Ritchie Blackmore and his wife, Candice Night. Their latest album, Autumn Sky, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard New Age Charts.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Autumn Sky debuted at the top of Billboard's New Age charts. What influenced this chart-topping album?
Candice Night: We actually recorded the album while I was pregnant with our first child, Autumn, hence the name Autumn Sky. This is a project that is almost 15 years old at this point. It’s a constant and natural evolution of our creation of original songs that are also pulling off of the spirit of songs from hundreds of years ago. So it’s kind of like a culmination of lots of idea from every tour of the world. We tour a lot of castles and historical venues and we kind of retain the spirit of a lot of these places and kind of weave the legends and myths and come up with our own blend and our own sound of music that brings the old together with the new. I think a lot of people are interested in it as an escape to relieve the stress and pressures of the modern day world. So we get a lot of inspiration from a lot of different things, a lot of different places, and that’s what winds up becoming the creative process of what our music ends up being.
TCC: Your music, especially your new album, is big all over the world in places like in Russia, Germany, Sweden, Greece and the Czech Republic. Can you tell me a little about how your music became so internationally well known?
CN: We’ve played all over the world. What we do is go on tour for about a month, and then we come back home for a month to kind of recharge our batteries before we go back out again. So we’re usually out on tour for approximately four months, not in a row, but one month at a time. A lot of bands play every day and if they’re not playing they’re traveling, [then] before you know it, everybody is sick and nobody feels good. [Blackmore’s Night] really want to give 100 percent. I think the longest show we’ve played was over four hours long. We’re having such a great time, the audience is so into it and it’s kind of like looking through a veil into another time.
TCC: What makes your performances a unique experience?
CN: You know when Pirates of the Caribbean came out and everyone wanted to go to the movie theatre and dress up like pirates? That’s like the fans too. It’s almost like a costume party, something cool and different. We look out and see everybody dressed up in different costumes. Nobody is telling [the fans] what to wear. They can wear whatever they feel. They can wear that proudly on their sleeves if only for that night. So if you feel like being a queen or you feel like being a fairy or you feel like being a warrior or any of these, you can. I’ve seen 85-year-old jesters, 5-year-old fairy princesses and Harley guys dressed up in armor and body suits. It’s just amazing. Everybody gets to wear their own identity and persona on their sleeve and it’s really cool being able to see that. It’s not only seeing the whole audience like that, but you’re also playing at a 12th or 14th-century castle and the moon is rising overhead. If people see that once in their life it’s something they remember forever. We are so lucky we get to experience it wherever we go, in all the different countries, at all the different events. It’s an amazing thing to experience.
TCC: It seems like your music is very Renaissance inspired. What instruments does Blackmore’s Night use and how does that affect your sound? Would you say your instruments add a mysterious, magical and/or romantic tone?
CN: We started this project back in 1997 when we were writing Project of the Moon, our first album, and at that point I think there were instruments lying around the house and we slowly added more and began collecting instruments from places we visited all around the world. We would find them in the back streets of Prague or the Czech Republic or [when we would] stumble across new music stores. We actually went to New Hope, Pennsylvania, and they had a crumhorn (a medieval wind instrument with an enclosed double reed and an upward-curving end). We were able to build our collection up to a point where we have many Medieval woodwind instruments, which ended up working really well for our sound because are we taking some the experience of 15th century melodies and then updating them with new arrangements, new lyrics, new instrumentation. We use anything from the electric guitar to the cornamuse (a double reed instrument dating from the Renaissance period). Instead of getting your typical five-piece band we are able to add color and dimension by adding these instruments to the music that we’re writing.
TCC: So if you were to categorize your music, which genre do you think it fits in?
CN: I know they keep putting up New Age and I’m so happy to be on the Billboard New Age chart because it’s such an honor and I’m so happy about that, but in the same vein I almost thought New Age music was almost more like massage music. Just instrumental, very relaxing, you can meditate to it. But we do such a variety of music I don’t think they know where to put us. We have anything from rock to pop to tavern music to gypsy music, to ballads, to cover songs. I almost feel like that’s what music should be about, an emotional release and you have so much creative freedom when you’re involved with music. But I don’t feel like it should be fitting neatly into a box of labels for one type of music and that’s it. It feels so confining. Shouldn’t you be able to create the type of music you want to? It’s really hard to go back into a box for one specific type. I’m tempted to call it almost full cloth or really fantasy music. I guess everybody has their own idea as to what even that means. It is just good melodic music with fun lines that people can hum along to and enjoy.
TCC: Who do you think your main audience is? It seems like you have a wide range of listeners.
CN: It’s a tricky thing to try to pin down the audience. I’ll tell you I’ve never seen such a varied demographic as when I look out and see our audience. The interesting thing is when we first started this project I think a lot of guys who had been following [husband and guitarist in Blackmore’s Night, Deep Purple and Rainbow] Ritchie’s career because they knew him from past guitar stuff. But he started [his music career] in 1968, so if they’ve been following him for his whole career, you know a lot of these die hard rock guys, they kind of are a little bit older now and their music taste is more mellow and more mature. Ritchie is still playing the electric guitar, so the long-time fans still get that taste when they want to, but he’s also playing acoustic music. We have a contingent of people following Ritchie…but now those rock guys are married. And they have wives who end up loving the music because it’s melodic and the lyrics are fantasy-like and romance-like and nature-based and they love dressing up. And they now have kids who love to sing along to the choruses and to dress up. And then the grandparents like it as well because it’s melodic. I think the grandparents are tired of revisiting Tony Bennett. Those are great songs but it’s nice to hear something new and different.
TCC: So it’s a modern twist to some older melodies?
CN: Exactly. So it’s an interesting thing. When I look out into the audience, I’ll see a total hippie standing next to a Goth standing next to a Harley guy with tattoos standing next to a lawyer. The one thing I find they all have in common is they’re all looking for something different. I call them independent thinkers.
TCC: Does the band perform at private events? How did you get connected to venues as extravagant as castles?
CN: We have done a couple of private events in places like Moscow. Those are few and far between. What winds up happening is that the agents know the music doesn’t fit into [the same venue as rock bands]. We don’t fit into an arena [because] we’re too small of a band. We enjoy the intimacy of being one-on-one with our audience. We take requests from our audience, the audience stands up and it winds up being almost like you're having a big party. The cool thing I find in Germany and some other countries in Europe is they have castles as open concert venues. And we actually were the first band at a lot of concert venues to open it up for other bands to play as well. Of course they don’t have those venues here in America…A lot of people from America end up flying over there [to Europe] and traveling wherever we go.
TCC: What songs do you perform most frequently from the new album?
CN: “Highlands” is definitely one that has gone over really well. We shot a video for that [which can be seen on YouTube]. We also do “Journey Man,” which is requested very often. And “Vagabond.” Each time we go out we try to add a few more songs to the set list because everybody has their own favorite. Even if we do a three-hour set someone is always like, “Why didn’t you play this one?” Every night we end up changing the set list, so you never end up hearing the same concert twice.
TCC: Do any of your new songs hold significance over the rest?
CN: It depends on your feeling at the time. I happen to love the song “Circle,” I love doing that one. “Barbara Allan” is another one. There’s just so many of them.
TCC: I noticed on your website that one of your favorite songs is “Last Unicorn,” did you ever see the cartoon movie, The Last Unicorn? Have any movies or songs greatly inspired your sound?
CN: I have seen it, but you know the strange thing is I was turned onto that song when we were touring over in Germany and someone released it over there. It was [sung by] this girl named Juliet…it was so pure and beautiful. I bought it as a single and got home going, “Why have I never heard of this before?” And that’s when I found the movie. I think the original version is by America. If you like that ethereal kind of music, it’s spellbinding. Somebody just asked me in an interview, “If you could choose any movie to contribute your songs to, which movie would it be,” and I said “The Last Unicorn.” If they ever do another remake it and need music for it, call us.
TCC: Other than music and movies, what else inspires you? Do you dabble in other art forms like poetry or dancing?
CN: Oh yeah. I love writing all the time. If I ever get to a point where I’m stuck on a song, I’ll go back to the writing that I do, like my poetry. Even if it’s one line or one word or one idea behind the poetry I get that creative flow going again that inspires me. [I like] poetry, journal writing and scrapbooking. I actually love cooking. People probably think that’s not creative. You get to get involved with it and at the end you get to eat it. It’s like the circle of complete. And photography. On my website, CandiceNight.com, it says “favorite” and you can click on it and you can see all of the photos I’ve taken from around the world on different tours.
TCC: Do you have any upcoming performances or tours?
CN: We’re supposed to be playing in America for 7-10 days, starting on the East Coast and [then] moving a little bit further down South. That’s coming up in April before our tour in Germany. Once we confirm the dates they will be on the website. After that we’ll take a month off and then go to Germany and probably the Czech Republic. Then we come home again and will start to put together another section of tour, which is probably going to be Russia, Scandinavia and England. That will be the third time out. Then we will do some more performances in America in November. And that’s it for this year.