Candy Says are an up and coming, lo-chic, pop band who are maintaining the creativity and integrity of music by doing it themselves! After parting with her previous band Little Fish (previously signed to Island Records), Juju and her new ensemble are producing fresh unique pop hits with a quirky electric vibe, sure to make you disregard the fact that it's been recorded in her fellow band and roommates' garage. With their debut singles achieving notable, public and critical success Candy Says are sure to gain the recognition they deserve in the near future.
CM: So, Juju, how are you?
Juju: Very well. Very well, thank you.
CM: Your new single, 'Favourite Flavour', came out the other week. What's the initial response been like, from critics and, of course, your fans?
Juju: It's been brilliant. It's been better then we could've imagined really, I don't think you can sort out these things. You just have to put your head down and do something you yourself find inspiring and enjoy doing. If you're constant with what you're doing and you enjoy it, then the rest is a bonus if other people like it but not the only thing that matters. Obviously, I'm over the moon with the response. I didn't really have any anticipation if I'm honest; I just wanted to do something I really liked, and make good art, so that's the aim.
CM: Can you tell us what it was like shooting the rather compelling video for Favourite Flavour?
Juju: Well, I spent about two months organising it. We shot our first video (Melt into the Sun) by using a group of friends and making the best of what everybody has to give. So we got a group of actor friends and my best friend who is the video director and artist and we just got friends helping out. Although it takes a lot of organisation and a lot of work, coming out with a video that you can be happy with is brilliant and we're really proud of the hard work we put into making it.
CM: Do you enjoy dealing with the more visual aspects of being in a band or do you generally delegate these jobs?
Juju: We're all part of it together. Bekim Mala who does our artwork is a good friend of mine and I really wanted to work with him. I've been signed to a major label before and, unfortunately, they didn't want to use him and I found that really upsetting because it's somebody who I know gets me and what we're doing. If someone is going to understand your vision, it's someone who knows you. We work really well together so I'm so happy to be able to launch a new band and project with people who I personally believe in and want to give opportunities for other people to see what they can do. That's why I use my actor friends who I believe in and the video director.
CM: You mentioned being signed to a label when you were in the successful band Little Fish. Can you tell us why you decided to part from your previous band?
Juju: It took two years to release the record and we lost a lot of momentum, so when the record came out it was quite demoralising because we'd worked so hard to get signed and we really believed in the people that we kind of handed over everything we'd worked for to. We did some great shows and some great tours but it felt like a natural ending. I didn't feel like it was going anywhere; we weren't making any money and we couldn't live so we had to stop. It felt like we'd hit a brick wall and I really wanted to create another visual sound because Little Fish was quite rocky and heavy and I wasn't really that person anymore; I'd grown and changed a little bit so I wanted to explore another side to music and art. It was just a natural ending.
CM: You were signed to Island records and now you're self-releasing with Candy Says, did you find there was a loss of creative control whilst signed to a major label?
Juju: At the moment we're doing everything ourselves. I'm just really enjoying the creative aspect. I'm just happy when I'm creating so as long as I'm writing new music and making art and creating videos and shows and recording, I'm feeling the buzz. I'm happy.
CM: Just to conclude, with Little Fish you don't think the band could have gone any further and the band reached a natural end?
Juju: Yes. Time for change and I didn't want to keep something I wasn't happy in anymore.
CM: When it comes to writing for Candy Says, where do you draw your inspiration from?
Juju: Mostly from people I've met. Lots of poets in Oxford and lots of people creating. When I started writing and performing Candy Says, I didn't have anything. I didn't have anything to go to a big studio, I didn't have a drum set. I had two microphones a crappy laptop and a garage. So everything is being recorded in there and I suppose working in the limitations of what I had to create a sound - so I recorded bits of wood crashing on the floor, the drum. There's not much cymbals in our stuff because I didn't have any. I managed to get some orchestral cymbals. It's kind of being creative. I shook nuts in the garage, bags of nails and ran the drumstick across things to make sound. It's quite a quirky way of doing things but it's all about working with what you've got and not being dependant on having a lot of money to pay a lot of people. I just wanted to be self-sufficient and not rely on anybody. As soon as you bring that into the mixture, the initial idea gets diluted and everybody has their ideas. So I just went away and wrote the whole record in a year and didn't show or tell anybody. I just did it and put my head down.
CM: Do you prefer recording things by yourself over recording in a LA Studio?
Juju: I've got a great group of people who I can bounce stuff off. Ben who's the Farfisa player in Candy Says is an incredible musician and we've actually worked together a lot on Candy Says. He's my co-writer with this band. Although we do different aspects, we work very well together. We also have an old friend called Narco who's mixed our tracks and he comes and has a cup of tea and has a listen and gives his input. I trust his ears and like his taste. It's collaboration between people I really like. Although I'm at the root of it, I come up with the song and the lyrics and the idea for the melody, Ben and I will finish it together, and then Narco will come around for a cup of tea and tell us where he thinks we should add a bit of guitar or something. It's fun. I just want it to be fun. I really am enjoying it. You'd be surprised how people get so caught up in the big wheel. It's a tricky business.
CM: You mentioned poets being an inspiration. Do you have any musical inspirations?
Juju: I'm really inspired by a lot of new bands that have come about over the last couple of years. There are a couple of poets in Oxford who are really great: Henry Stead, George Chopping and Paul Askew. They've all got their various poetry books that are coming out this year or have already come out, and they perform around Oxford and really inspired me to perform certain songs certain ways and think about lyrics. Musically, obviously we've joked about conceptualising, because we only have two microphones, we record it ourselves in our garage and don't have any high-tech gear and we just thought, what would the Velvet Underground be doing in 2013? Would they be using an auto tune pedal? Probably for some bits, let's try it. Let's have fun. We're very aware of the spirit of the Velvet Underground; I'm just inspired by loads of bands that are just brilliant although they may not be exactly like Candy Says. Originally, I was quite into Feist's new record, Metals. I started listening to Lady Lamb the Beekeeper who we're playing with on the 2nd June which is a dream come true. There's a band called Fixers who I really got into. I really like Teleman. It's not exactly our kind of music but PINS from Manchester and a band from America called the Dark Furs from LA who we speak to on Twitter and we've just written a song for them 'cause I just love them. It's called Chad and the drummer's called Chad so we'll send it to them soon. I think there are so many interesting bands and I'm inspired by them.
CM: You mentioned Oxford and obviously some great and successful bands have come from Oxfordshire including Radiohead, Supergrass, Foals and Youthmovies. Why is it that Oxfordshire can produce such great music?
Juju: Haha. My theory is - Oxford is quite a small city but has a great music community; It almost feels like everybody is in a band. There's a great magazine called Nightshift and BBC introducing. They help tie it all in. Every month there's a magazine and it tells you about the bands, and Oxford has the radio show. It just helps everyone know what's going on and it feels like there are no lost limbs - you're not by yourself and there's a lot people doing the same things. I think that's quite inspiring. It's easy to get noticed if you're doing something interesting because the city isn't too big so you're not lost in a big pit and everybody knows everybody so everybody talks.
CM: So you mentioned Velvet Underground. Is this where you got your name, Candy Says from?
Juju: Yes. We named our band after the song Candy Says by Velvet Underground because it's just a song I heard when I was dilly-dallying around. It's such a great song and I was really inspired by it; I just wanted to write a song really similar to it that I called Hummingbird. The whole kind of story of the song is about changing your skin and I think from Little Fish to Candy Says there's a whole change of identity so I think it really fit and it's got that little 'Candy' pop edge to it. It just works.
CM: What can people expect from a Candy Says live show?
Juju: If you go to our Twitter feed you'll be able to see lots of photos and crazy shenanigans from a home town, self-produced, DIY Oxford show. When we do stuff ourselves, it's pretty ambitious. We try to blend art with music as much as we can but keeping it within the realms of people being able to connect to it by not going too far. I want people to be able to understand what we're doing and not feel excluded. I want people to feel inspired and excited. We had a live painter on stage. We built a 3 x 4 metre canvas - it was bloody high. We had the opera singer who's in our videos who came and sang Candy Says operatically at the end. We did it in a big church - I wrote letters to the vicar for about 3 months explaining we were nice people and that we wouldn't trash his church. It's all about getting people involved and doing stuff. Hopefully it will just be fun. Good, but fun.
CM: How have your previous Candy Says gigs compared to performing with Little Fish?
Juju: They've been brilliant. I think everything's been better then Little Fish ever went. Little Fish never got played on 6 music so as far as I'm concerned that's pretty brilliant. People who are hardcore Little Fish fans love the new band - they prefer it, I've been told that lots of times. I'm just excited. I really genuinely am excited so I hope to keep creating and keep doing what we're doing because I think people are enjoying it, including ourselves.
CM: So what do you see for the future of Candy Says?
Juju: Good Question. When I was in Little Fish I wanted to play loads of gigs and be spotted and get signed to a major label and go to America and that was brilliant. With hindsight and everything now, I'm just so happy to be creative and inspired again and doing something fun. I don't have a big master plan.
The Cat With The Cream
What I Did For Love feat. Emeli Sandé [Lyric]