“Music is medicine, songs are pills”: Candice Gordon writes for indieberlin

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Candice Gordon’s been mixing with the deities of rock scene for long enough. Now she’s ready to release her own solo debut. Here she tells indieBerlin about the ‘existential pleasure’ of her music.

She’s recorded with Shane McGowan, shared a stage with Nick Cave and worked with the same sound technician as some guy called Iggy Pop. At last, it’s Candice Gordon’s turn to sell some records. Garden of Beasts will be released this month.

Driving under influences

Over my life, whenever I’ve been playing and writing music I have been influenced by a huge fucking range of stuff. It’s very hard for me to boil this down to something that would fit on a page.

But say on long road trips we have some CDs like our friends Count Vaseline, Medicine Boy, Jawbones and Chat Logs albums. We also have had some favourites over the years to drive to. I particularly like Fela Kuti and Joy Division for keeping me awake at the wheel.

It’s usually while I’m in transit that my melodies come to me. Then I’ll collect lyrics as and when I think of them, and record it all on my phone to use later. I also like to watch movies and write with a guitar in hand. It’s like sculpting a piece of clay, moving bits around, and cutting away the unnecessary bits.

Music is medicine, songs are pills, and if a pill works, just keep administering it.

Berlin’s the place

Berlin’s an artistic haven: I think it’s deeply ingrained in the psyche here to respect art. But Berlin audiences, they’re very busy with a lot to do and see every night. You’ve got to impress them.

At the same time there’s a wild, hedonistic vein pulsing through the city, so gigs can be very odd and a lot of fun. I’ve had people taking their clothes off and rushing the stage, for example. Shout out to Le Bums. That’s never happened to me in any other city.

One time in Dublin, when I was 17, I played a song at this big packed venue – and the whole time, I was in a totally different key from the rest of the band. I still shudder at the memory.

Existential pleasures

But I love playing big stages and big crowds, especially because the sound on stage is usually amazing, so we can hear our own music which is nice. The energy you get from a throbbing mass of audience is incredible. I can’t think of any other life experience which is comparable.

I’m still an absolute sucker for a small intimate show, where you don’t have a stage, you just clear some space on the ground and let yourself be surrounded by the audience. The total weightlessness can make it a really priceless moment. There’s no expectation and no pressure, just existential pleasure.

Text by Candice Gordon. Edited by Jem Bosatta. Photos by Maren Michaelis.