Graham Reid | | 3 min read
No musician just appears out of nowhere . . . although Candice Milner, now 18, comes pretty close. Her single Run For It won the audience.co.nz monthly chart in June and that set her on the path to her debut album Evergreen.
Recorded in her hometown of Lyttelton with Ben Edwards and a band of sympathetic players, Evergreen is an impressively diverse collection of songs which ease gently from acoustic pop, folk-rock, influences from Americana and Anglofolk . . . and some highly thoughtful lyrics which elevate it.
Milner is also a woman with her heart in the right place, her debut single Helping Hands in 2014 was written in support of CanTeen and all profits went to cancer awareness.
Timely then for Candice Milner to join a long list of luminaries who have answered our Famous Songwriter questionnaire . . .
The first song which really affected you was . .
Elvis Presley - Can't Help Falling in Love or maybe, Daughter - Lifeforms
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
Haha, Avril Lavigne (1st and 2nd album only) when I was very young. And probably Birdy in my early years of songwriting!
The one songwriter you will always listen to, even if they disappointed you previously, is?
Probably Courtney Barnett! She's so wacky but I love it.
As songwriters: Lennon-McCartney or Jagger-Richards; kd lang or Katy Perry; Madonna or Michael Jackson; Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson?
Which ones do I prefer? I'd say Michael Jackson over Madonna, definitely Johnny Cash over Kristofferson. I'm in love with Johnny and June.
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they are well crafted are . . .
Aldous Harding, I'm So Sorry.
Holly Arrowsmith, Beast Called Love. She has a beautiful heart, beautiful voice and beautiful songs!
I would also recommend anything by Courtney Barnett, maybe Anonymous Club.
Melody first? Words or phrase first? Simultaneous?
It really depends if I'm writing a song because of an experience I've had, a melody I've sung to myself or a riff I've written on the guitar etc! If it's a story or experience, generally I'll write out lyrics first, thinking of a melody in my head. However if I'm playing around on the guitar or piano and come up with a different progression or riff I'll generally focus on that first!
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
I must say I've never read a book on musicians! Does NZ Musician magazine count? Haha
If you could co-write with anyone it would be . .
Marlon Williams or Delaney Davidson
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Tami Neilson, Don't Be Afraid on vinyl
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you would be . . .
I've Just Seen A Face. Beatles
One line (or couplet) from a song -- yours or someone else's -- which you think is just a stone cold be winner is . . .
"Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love"
– from 'Dance Me to the End of Love' by Leonard Cohen
Songwriting: what's the ratio of inspiration/perspiration?
I'd probably say 50/50, especially after recording them, listening to them, improving them etc for a year and a half. I'd like to try relax a bit more next time round though, it was certainly a long process first time round!
Ever had a song come to you fully-formed like it dropped into your lap?
Yes, I think Valley of Blue came out pretty quickly. It was a song I was passionate about and the words just seemed to flow. The same with Run For It actually, considering the words are pretty repetitive it does make sense, but it was quite an angry song so it just happened to write itself somehow!
And finally, finish this couplet in any way you like: “Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet . . .” (You are NOT allowed to rhyme that with “meet” however)
Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet, cluttering all the thoughts instead, thank god I only paid for a seat