A Christmas with snow, fireplace, and chunky reindeer sweaters? Until recently, Graham Candy only knew this from the movies. Nevertheless, the Berlin-based New Zealand beach boy proved the perfect choice for the holiday treat The Sound of Christmas by smart – find out why in our interview.
Hi Graham! Two years ago, you relocated from Auckland, New Zealand, all the way to Berlin. What prompted you to move half-way across the globe?
Graham Candy: That was pretty crazy. Back in Auckland, some friends and I used to run a music pub. When other bands were playing, I would also come on stage to play some covers, like Amy Winehouse or Duffy. One day, Matthias Müller from Crazy Planet Records, a Berlin label and management agency, came along and saw me singing. He recorded some sneaky videos on his smartphone and got in touch a little later.
What did he want?
Graham Candy: He told me he thought I was amazing; he would fly me over, get a producer, and all that stuff. Of course I was skeptical, but I also wanted to leave the bar scene, wanted a healthier life. So, four weeks later, I was here in Berlin! It was actually my first venture outside of New Zealand and my first time in Europe. It’s still incredible just how fast it all happened.
So, does Berlin feel like home now?
Graham Candy: More like a second home. New Zealand will always remain my first home. And due to the language barrier, it’s still difficult to get fully into German culture.
Last year, your song “She Moves“ took Germany by storm. Tell us how your collaboration with Berlin producer Alle Farben went gold in Germany.
Graham Candy: “She Moves“ was actually the very first project I worked on once I got here. One of the guys working on Alle Farben’s album told me that they were looking for singers. After an initial meeting, we started to write “She Moves“ together. Looking back, it was a pretty good first song to start with (laughs). Everything worked out extremely well.
Graham Candy’s debut album: Out in April 2016
In the meantime, you’ve also been working on your solo stuff – your debut album is up for release next year, isn’t it?
Graham Candy: The album is scheduled for April 2016 and recording it was very exciting. I was pretty nervous doing it! It’s all about home and family and features a lot of acoustic, organic instruments like guitar and piano, but also electronic elements – that’s the Berlin side.
Any other influences or inspirations?
Graham Candy: I guess the biggest inspiration was myself, to be honest, just being me. I know that’s a bit like drinking your own bath water, but it was a good base for the album. Otherwise, I’d say artists like Sam Smith, Adele, James Bay, Jeff Buckley, or Chet Faker.
How did living in Berlin impact your album?
Graham Candy: It opened my mind. Collaborations are a massive thing in a big city. There are many opportunities and so many interesting people, styles, and stories.
“In Berlin, every borough seems like a distinct city”
Could you compare Berlin to Auckland?
Graham Candy: The main difference is obviously the surroundings. Auckland has a harbor and the ocean on its doorstep. And in Auckland, you’ll find all the bars and restaurants on one strip, whereas Berlin is more spread out and every borough seems like a distinct city.
What do you miss most about New Zealand?
Graham Candy: I miss the nature; I really miss the beach. I am a beach boy. I also miss the food, the fresh fish, the mussels and, naturally, I really miss my family.
What’s your favorite way to get around in the city?
Graham Candy: In Berlin, definitely by bike. It’s great exercise and I love to bike. While I could imagine getting a car in the future, I don’t want to spend too much time looking for parking spots or dealing with other annoyances.
Every city has its own speed. How would you compare Berlin and Auckland?
Graham Candy: Berlin is not like Paris or London. It’s not super fast. So, I would say that Auckland is quite similar; it’s more laid-back and easy-paced.
You actually did an interactive music video for the smart special The Sound of Christmas. What’s the story behind it?
Graham Candy: The song is called “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” and it’s originally from the 1800s! We wanted to do something old school and bring it back to the modern day. The song is about kids who can’t wait to get their presents, so it’s a great match for smart – not only because I’d love to get one for Christmas (laughs). It’s also a very cheeky song and smart is cheeky, edgy, and happy. On the website, people get the chance to interact and mix their own version – everyone can become a producer. I love that idea!
So, how do you celebrate Christmas back in New Zealand?
Graham Candy: Well, for us it’s summertime, you know. We do have Christmas trees and presents, but a lot of people have barbeques on the beach. Up till now, I only knew Christmas with snow, reindeer sweaters, and a crackling fireplace from the movies (laughs)!
You want to create your own Christmas song? Click here to get started!
All images incl. the header image: Kike