& Ritchie Blackmore Interview
1 - I think "Ghost Of A Rose" is mainly in the vein of the "Fires At Midnight", mixing electric tracks featuring nice soloing and more acoustic tracks in a melancholy or more joyful vein, with your usual influences coming from different European folk music’s and Renaissance music’s. Would you agree?
Ritchie Blackmore (RB): Yes, I totally agree.
Candice Night (CN): I think the only slight difference is the incorporation of more authentic woodwinds. As our collection of Renaissance instruments expands, we're able to add a dimension of organic sounds to the songs.
2- A couple of tracks sound maybe more orchestral, more symphonic than ever before, I mean the title-track and the "Ivory Tower". What was the musical inspiration behind those songs?
RB: "Ghost of a Rose" was inspired by Elgar and Jacqueline Dupré, an amazing cellist. Although, one of the interpretations of the songs is that the actual song is about her and her wonderful playing can still be heard in the sound of the wind from the hillside.
3- Apart from "Rainbow Blues" and from the two references – Chopin and Pierre Phalese – who you refer to in the liner notes, were the music written exclusively by you Ritchie, or did Candice contribute to the music itself sometimes? Any other inspirations from other composers? (I found a couple of tracks by Pierre Phalese, who was a Flemish composer, as you had said in December, I saw he was also an active music publisher then)
RB: I usually write the music and Candice writes
the lyrics. However, in "Three Black Crows" and "Ivory Tower", both the
music and lyrics were written by Candice. Susato is always a chief inspiration
as well as Carabel, Praetorius and some guy called "Anonymous" who
keeps cropping up!
4- I didn't recognize the track by Chopin that inspired "Nur ein
RB: It was the title that was inspired by Chopin (as in the Minute Waltz played in exactly one minute). I titled it in German because I think that everything should not be in English.
5- What about the lyrics of "Cartouche”? I didn't understand the overall meaning … by the notes. Didn't see the connection between these "black kitchen" in the 16th century period in Prague and the Pharaohs' specific cartouches with hieroglyphs…
RB: Sometimes, life has a mixed message. All is not what it should be and always try to read the words between the lines.
CN: Cartouche tends to be a part of a Salvador Dali painting in words. We had some incredible times at a place in Prague called Cartouche which inspired this song. It is underground and they call themselves the Black Kitchen of the 1600's. They always allow us to play and sing there until the wee hours of the morning. So this is a collection of all the magical times spent at Cartouche.
6- How long did it take to compose all those songs?
RB: It took about 6 months. Most of the songs are already written before we go in the studio.
7- Could you please try to explain me a little bit how you compose a song, you and Candice, usually?
RB: I'm inspired by musical pieces that I hear in the everyday events. It might be a two bar section or an environment as in many of the castles we stay in. When one can find solitude, you can be open enough to create music. Unfortunately, in these days and age, we are constantly bombarded by noise and silence is increasingly difficult to find.
CN: Ritchie will come with the general melody line of the song, at first. I always find that his melodies are so visual, so full of emotion, that all you need to do is to close your eyes and to listen to what the song is telling you and wants to be about, to see the pictures it is painting in your mind as you're listening to it. Then the words come easily. It's usually a mixture of nature and legends, myths and mystery with a touch of romance and a day gone by. (? )
But each song has its own personality, a very strong identity that takes you down a path that none of the others do.
8-a) Instead of having Ian Anderson writing a new song for you, you covered a rather rare track only released on a compilation album and lately on the remastered version of Warchild. It was a rather irregular tune –rhythmically speaking - and your version is more "catchy" and easier to listen to (I also think its better) but how did you approach the changes that you wanted to do to the arrangements?
RB: I just took the chords and sallied forth. Put the chords, notes and tune down and the rest took care of itself.
9- Is it true that ”Warchild” is your favourite Jethro Tull album, and why?
RB : Yes. The songs are so incredibly well put together. My favourite one is "Sea Lion".
10- Who are the male singers with low voices on "All For One"? Why don't you use them on the other tracks featuring choral parts like "Ivory Tower" (where it is a synthetic bass vocal texture, right?)?
RB : Actually we did. There is a bit of a vocal sample of a Gregorian male voices but it's layered with the real male vocalists on both, "Ivory Tower" and "All For One".
CN : The male vocal parts were done by Tim Cotov and Bard David of Larchmont who, besides having an amazing opera voice, is also our newest minstrel on the road. He plays keyboards.
11- Generally, it seems to me that this new album contains less instrumental parts or tunes than the previous ones… Was it deliberate or just by pure chance?
RB : Actually each of the albums has had at least two instrumentals, going back to "Shadow…", with "Minstrel Hall" and "Mond Tanz". So if you include part 2 of "Queen For A Day", on the "Ghost of a Rose" album I think there are more instrumentals on this new CD than the previous ones. It's just what comes out while you're recording at the time.
12- On the other way, you're still playing a lot of excellent electric solos on this one (the end of "Way To Mandalay", "Rainbow Blues", "All For One" are outstanding, and the discreet solos on "Diamonds and Rust" are beautiful)… How do you approach the solos usually? Do you work out a melody or riff during a long time or do you improvise and keep the best parts afterwards?
RB : As far as solos go, I just improvise a few times through over the song. Then, when I'm out of the room, the producer puts it together and tells me he lost all the other tracks! (takes?)
13- Is there only one edition of the new album or will SPV does as well a special (limited?) edition like they did for "Fires At Midnight" and the live album? If yes, then what differences there will be?
RB : SPV will put a bonus track out and in about five years time, I'm sure Roger Glover will change all the solos!
CN : Actually SPV has two versions for Europe right now : the regular version and the digipack version with 2 bonus tracks and extra photos. The USA version will include the "Way To Mandalay" video on that CD when it's released.
14- Apart from this castle tour this coming summer, did you intend to play some gigs somewhere else?
RB : Yes, the tour dates are coming in now for the next leg of the tour. Moscow, Tierra Del Fuego, Mandalay along with Italy.
CN : So far, we've brought the "Ghost Of A Rose" tour to some place Blackmore's Night has never been before : Estonia, Norway, Latvia as well as Poland and Finland. Right now, we are in the middle of our German tour in which we are playing mainly castles and courtyards. Next on the touring list is America, Russia, Austria, England, Scotland, Czech Republic, and still more dates are coming in now. We hope to finally play France this year but for some reason, promoters have not responded.
15- I had heard of a possible live DVD release. How far have you been as regards that this project?
CN : Yes, we filmed footage for that DVD. There have been two concerts filmed, one at Schloss Burg in Solingen and one in Eisenach called Schloss Wartburg (Turinge Castle). Schlossburg was an outdoor, a courtyard with lots of interesting unplanned circumstances…. power loss, rain, etc. Wartburg is an acoustic, intimate setting. There are also interview segments and other footage as well. We're hoping to have that out later this year.
16- I recently saw on your discography page that you played on 1 track from an album by our French singer Laurent Voulzy in 1992 ?! How did this happen?!!
RB : My management at the time contacted me and they sent me the tape. I went into a studio in Connecticut where I was living then did my tracks there.
17- And can you tell me a little bit more about the forthcoming solo album by Candice? Who has written the songs, who is playing on it? I have not had the chance to hear the single that was released. When is it going to be released ? (There's nothing about it any more on the website…)
CN : I have a collection of songs that have been building up since 1995. They were tapes that were collecting dust on the shelves, just voice and piano. So I just got curious to hear what the songs would sound like with life breathed into them by a producer. Some of my songs ends up on the Blackmore’s Night CD’s, like "Now and Then", "Ivory Tower" or "3 Black Crows". But some songs will not be used in the Blackmore's Night project because they don't sound Renaissance enough. But everything gets put on hold once Blackmore's Night begins touring, writing or recording. When things slow down a bit , I'll start going through my tapes again.
18- Talking of solo projects, would do you one yourself Ritchie, an instrumental album for example?
RB : I'd like to release a "Best Of" [with] all the instrumentals at some dates. When we'll get back all the rights. I don't believe in side projects. It takes one's focus off of the main project. I love to play but not record. I'd rather take a walk in the woods.
19- Will you ever try to sing on a song? You never sang on any record, did you? Why?
RB : I've only just learned to speak! When I took up the guitar, it was a way of not having to talk to people.. Now people only want to talk to me in the interviews all the time!
20- Pat Reagan does a great job creating this "Minstrel Hall Consort" himself alone but wouldn't you like to play with a real orchestra occasionally, like the band Renaissance did it for example? Or just a smaller, baroque or renaissance orchestra?
RB : Absolutely. This is in the pipeline. I'll be doing some songs with a real Renaissance band augmented into our band. If Yngwie Malmsteen doesn't beat me to it!
21- How about France, what about a concert? I had heard it could happen here a few months ago but there's nothing new, as far as I know.
RB : We'd love to play in France, but we can't get a record company there with sufficient interest. Apparently they will do nothing for us in France. Consequently we can't come to France. I don't understand that concept, but that's what we've been told.
22- Are you considering changing record label for another one maybe more suitable for the style of music Blackmore's Night is playing?
RB : We're researching it. After all, France was a main factor for Renaissance music back in the 1500's, it would be only fitting to take our music there. "All For One" is a French tune from the 1500's.
Well, thank you very much for your time. It's an excellent album and I'd love to hear the band playing it live.
Published in Koid'9 No 47 (September 2003)
A special 'thank you' to Marc Moingeon who gave us permission to publish his interview on our site.
Copyright © 2001-2011 BlackmoresNight.nu All rights reserved.