Nick Cody: All right, this is Nick and I’m with Candacraig, thanks for coming in today. Sharon and Martin.
Nick Cody: So Candacraig, what’s with that name? Where did that come from?
Martin: Well, it’s Candacraig is the name of a house in Myanmar, in Burma. My dad was half Burmese, passed away this year. He was born in Burma in 1931 and he was a child there during the Japanese occupation. They all ended up living with my aunt who was my dad’s eldest sister and just over the road from them was this house Candacraig.
Now the turn of the millennium my dad was given compensation. All British citizens who had been interned by the Japanese got some money and with that money he paid for him and my mom, my sister, and me and Sharon to go to Burma for three months in 2003.
We were sort of just amazed by the landscape in Burma, the pagodas there. It really did change us. And the warmth of the people who are so generous. And these are people who are terribly oppressed by the government as well. So Burma had a real deep impact on us. And for one week we stayed at Candacraig and it was very poignant and I think there’s one other place called Candacraig, I believe it’s a hotel in Scotland.
Sharon: Makes sense
Martin: Because it does sound Scottish.
Nick Cody: There is, I did a search on it and I thought maybe they’re Scottish, they don’t sound Scottish.
Martin: Well the thing is, we thought about the music that we were making and it kind of was vaguely folkish and then because Candacraig kind of sounds Scottish and my name is Nichols, so I must have some Scottish ancestry somewhere down the line.
Sharon: Mine’s Irish way back as well.
Martin: So it kind of fitted and then because the house of Candacraig meant so much to us-
Sharon: And it was better than ‘a bit of M and S’ which we were before.
Martin: Or the other one was a bit of S&M, which is something completely different.
Sharon: Yeah, we got really weird audiences for that so.
Nick Cody: So when did you first start making music together?
Sharon: ’93, ’94?
Martin: Straight away wasn’t it?
Sharon: Yeah pretty much, we met in ’92 and we pretty much, yeah, started writing-
Nick Cody: Was this in some part of England?
Sharon: We met in Cambridgeshire and then when I got a place at drama school in, well when I actually finally got there, it was ’93 and so we moved up to North London. And basically, do you remember the program Spaced?
Nick Cody: Yes.
Sharon: That was basically a documentary about our lives really, so we were this very bohemian or trying to be bohemian creatives living in-
Martin: Trying to be bohemian
Sharon: Trying to be cool and failing miserably at both really. But yeah, so that us and we started writing more and didn’t really know what to do with it. And so eventually, yeah, we got a name about 10 years later and then yeah, we’re finally actually recording the album another decade after that.
Nick Cody: Wow. So what back then, what name were you going under back then?
Sharon: It was, yeah. We really didn’t have an aim. Yeah, for ages we just were this thing that we’d revisit every now and again and think, “We really must do something with this”. And then like a few years would go past and then we’d just be pursuing our acting careers and that wouldn’t come to anything. And then we get rubbishy jobs and things would get in the way and get in the way. And then finally, once we started actually making music, our actual career about three or four years ago, we became full time musicians working mainly for covers bands, which is great because we’re doing something we enjoy. But the end of the day we wanted to be performing our own stuff together. And although I have other pseudo ventures, which I’m not going to go into here, sort of comedy songs and things like that, we wanted to do something I don’t know more spiritual-
Martin: More us.
Sharon: More us, yeah, that was us. And that’s actually terrifying actually performing stuff without being Björn out of ABBa with a daft wig on, or me Violet Hugh with the headdress with-
Nick Cody: You were Björn out of ABBA?
Martin: I am the oldest, fattest, darkest, hairiest Björn in the country. Possibly in the world.
Nick Cody: This could be an exclusive.
Martin: But I also like to think I’m the best.
Nick Cody: I mean there’s certainly a place for a covers in entertainment, you know? But I mean I’m personally a big fan of something new, something original in that respect. So in terms of your writing process, what tends to be the way that songs sort of manifest and emerge?
Sharon: Well, you’ll write on guitar.
Martin: I noodle, noodle.
Sharon: Yeah the work we used to write was much more collaborative when we were young and foolish and now it tends to be-
Martin: We’re old and foolish.
Sharon: I will shut myself away and plonk away on the piano. And then when I’m ready to show something to Martin, which is a long way down the line sometimes, then he’ll say, “Oh, that was good” or, “That was crap”, or whatever. And then we’ll work on it together after that. And it tends to be the same now I suppose with Martin, because-
Martin: Well, I don’t think I ever say that’s crap because Shannon says she’ll go and shut herself away and she’ll come out with something absolutely brilliant like that. And I’ll struggle for years and years with something. I just get nowhere with it. Yeah, that’s our collaboration now. [crosstalk 00:06:30]
Nick Cody: So, I mean different people have… It’s interesting because on the platform people have very different styles of working. Some people are just basically get something, refine, refine, refine, refine other people things just turn up. What point do you let the song go and go, “Okay, now it’s okay to show it to Martin”?
Sharon: I never think it’s ever quite that time but usually he’ll pressure me into actually letting it loose and yeah, because I’ll usually come up with the lyrics first these days anyway, and then I’ll find the tune and we’ll come to it eventually. And that could be another year down the line sometimes. There was one of this M.R.James things, which I had milling around for ages. It was about a ghost story about from the point of view of the ghost instead of the protagonist, and I had those lyrics for ages and for ages and ages. I held onto that because I wasn’t quite sure if it was any good. But yeah you seemed to like that one.
Martin: Yeah, that’s magnificent.
Sharon: It’s the one thing I’ve actually recorded and got on to SoundCloud, in fact. Yeah.
Nick Cody: And in terms of background, you went to drama school.
Sharon: That’s right, yeah.
Nick Cody: So in terms of being, did you both go to drama school?
Martin: I went to Bretton Hall, so sort of drama school yeah.
Nick Cody: How much of that environment, do you think informed or influenced what you then did musically?
Martin: For me personally, the environment was the fact that, so Bretton hall was a college where one of the courses was drama and it was famous for that. But most of the people that were there were doing like English, art, music or B.Ed and I just happened to be surrounded by a load of people who played guitar. I mean there was Bryn in the room above me, he played guitar. There was Duncan down the corridor, he played guitar. There was few other people who played instruments and I was just turned 18 never picked up a guitar in my life. And they all sort of like encouraging me to get involved and that’s how I started really. But in terms of actual the course, the drama course itself didn’t really impact on me at all, I think. Yeah, I think it was different for you though, wasn’t it?
Sharon: Yeah. Well I went to a musical theater drama school, which is a Mount VIew in North London, well South London now, traitors. And yeah, it was weird because I was very much a serious actor back then. Music was very much a side thing for me. I was a bit of a singer, not much of the singer though, there were far better singers in my year and I sort of bowed to them a little bit. And it wasn’t until we started singing in pub bands for pennies for a bit of fun that I actually thought, actually I’m really enjoying this.
Martin: Yeah. But you’ve got singing training though, didn’t you?
Sharon: I got a bit of singing training yeah. Which has certainly helped me keep my voice in when I’ve got a lurgy which is good. But I mean having an acting background has helped with things like coming to these yellow sands, which is all based on Shakespeare soliloquy mostly from Tempest cause we were actually involved in a play-
Martin: Yeah, that actually came about because we were in a play together and it was for company called the Irish theater company and said that they wanted to include a lot of music and they had an Irish fiddle player. Yes. And so it was very folky and coming on to the yellow sounds, funny enough that was the first thing I ever came up with when I started learning to play guitar because it was just a very sad, I just had… and then I just started doing that and I thought, “Oh I can do this for ages, sounds lovely, I’ll just keep playing this” and that’s what it is all the way through.
But I love music like that, which is like a pedal, you know, it just stays on one thing because it’s like a blank canvas and you can add things on top of it, which we haven’t recorded that yet, but that’s what I want to do is just make it something where we can build things onto, add layers, take layers away. Yeah.
Sharon: And you have played it with a looper before as well, haven’t you?
Martin: Yeah. I can use a loop on it. So there’s little things, you know, little harmonics to add to the top.
Nick Cody: Is that standard tuning there?
Martin: Yeah, that’s standard tuning. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Nick Cody: So from a point of view of who are artists, places or things that inspire you in terms of musical ideas?
Sharon: Well, as far as art is concerned, we’d go massive Pink Floyd nuts and lots of progressive, sort of prog rock sort of Marillion, and maybe I think Kate Bush I think influenced I think-
Martin: Tori Amos as well coming off of that.
Sharon: Yeah, exactly. And yeah, I don’t always want to write about… So I don’t always want to write about relationships. And then like the first one I did was about A sort of dysfunctional relationship. I don’t find that sort of thing sustainable over a whole album. I like talking about things like, M.R.James’ ghost story or you know, drowned lovers and it’s folky sort of like sort of morbid stuff like that.
Martin: There is a theme through our stuff.
Nick Cody: It’s unlikely to be in a club where people go, “Sing us something based on M.R.James”.
Sharon: I suppose its sort of like Led Zeppelin. So that’s sort of their sort of folky sort of influences as well, isn’t it? That sort of Tolkien-esque things because-
Martin: Well that’s another influence isn’t it? Yeah. Particularly the, the acoustic stuff. I mean I love all of Led Zeppelin but the acoustic stuff, I think is fantastic. That’s why Led Zeppelin I think is just so rich because of the variety that they did. But I think also there’s the whole Laurel Canyon movement as well as particular like Crosby, Stills and Nash. Some big influence. Those harmonies just out of this world aren’t they? You know Joni Mitchell I love as well. James Taylor.
Nick Cody: Oh those are classic singer songwriters. I mean you named my favorites. Carol King would be in there as well. You know, perennial songs, which years and years and years on, still stand up. Something about that. For you what makes a really great… As opposed to good an okay song, a good song, a great song. What are the ingredients that make a great song?
Sharon: It’s got to be the melody and something that doesn’t do what you expect it to do.
Martin: It’s got to be different, definitely got to be different, and it’s got to touch you some way, whether it’s sad, happy, you know, any one of those. Or just something you’d like to boogie to? I don’t have a problem with good song for dancing too, either that, everything has its place.
Sharon: It’s going to be good. I mean, my tastes go along a lot of genres, you know, I everything from Chemical Brothers to sort of folky, classical and stuff like that. So as long as it’s good, I listen to it and so I don’t try and peg myself into genres really.
Nick Cody: Well we’re very much genre free, I feel that the music for the head and heart is kind of the antithesis of a lot of stuff. And the idea is that it’s broad, music for thinking, music for feeling.
If they want to find you on Facebook, they’re going to search for…?
Sharon: Candacraig, I think its Candacraig band because obviously Candacraig was taken by the-
Nick Cody: So Canda: C.A.N.-
Martin: D.A Craig C.R.A.I.G. Band.
Nick Cody: Band. Well, thank you so much for coming and talking to us. It’s been great to hear you and hear your thoughts on this.
Sharon: And my lungs yes. This song is called ‘One More Time’. (singing)