Candice Nelson Interview

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Have you ever closed your eyes and become completely lost in a song? The lyrics take over you combined with the beat and bring about a range of emotions from anguish to joy, anger to ecstasy. Despite the beat driven state of music these days, the importance of quality writing can not be denied. As powerful as a beat can be, lyrics provide the distinction of what makes a song great versus yet another so so track on the radio.

It's a producer's game these days. Beat makers seem to rule the airways but there are those wordsmiths who provide the very essence of a song with their genius. Candice Nelson is one of these musical geniuses, providing the backbone to so many tracks throughout the years. She's written for everyone from Brandy to Fantasia, Jennifer Lopez to Karen Clark Sheard and done it with quality, not quantity. Not only a writer, Candice has shown the world what she's capable of with features on tracks like LL Cool J's "Can't Explain It" and Timbaland & Magoo's "Insane" to name but a few.

Candice has been putting her blood, sweat, and tears into music for a long time you just might not have known it. Who is Candice Nelson you may ask. Have you ever sung along with Brandy's "Nodding Off"? That's Candice. Kiley Dean's "Make Me A Song"? Candice again. You been bumping that new Beyonce "Resentment"? That too is Candice. She's been in your ear for years and still you may ask who is Candice Nelson?

Currently, Candice is part of the hottest new writing/production team in the game The Clutch. Ciara's "Like A Boy" Tyrese's "Lights On" Omarion's "Icebox" Tiffany Evans "Girls Gone Wild" and Mary J Blige's "Take Me As I Am" are just a few hit tracks written by the this brilliant collective. Consisting of J Que, Keri Hilson, Ezekiel Lewis, Balewa Muhammad, and Candice Nelson, The Clutch will soon be part of your regular vocabulary as the year progresses so be on the look out!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Candice and talking with her from her beginnings to her future and all things in between. Not only is Candice one of the best singer/songwriters to ever bless this world, she's also a very humble, down to earth person who let's you know that she, just like you, is everyday people.

J Boogie: Hey Candice I thought we'd start this interview, let's do this!

Candice Nelson: Hey Boog!

J Boogie: So Candice you have written so many songs all across different genres of music, how did you get started in music?

Candice Nelson: Awww well, I have to say that there are so many people who are responsible for where I am in my career. I have to say that the start was my partnership with Walter Millsap III. He invited me to one of his sessions, and was impressed, so we kept it moving from there.

J Boogie: Did you start out singing or writing or was it a mixture of both (writing and singing)?

Candice Nelson: I'd have to say I started out singing. I sang back-up for Immature in like '96! There's footage of me somewhere in the world that I never EVER want resurfacing!!! *laughs* No, but that was my first "gig". Lots of fun.

J Boogie: So you went from singing back up for Immature to a real studio session with Walter Milsap III, that's awesome. Now what became of that session with Walter? What was the next step?

Candice Nelson: Well, the song we did never got placed, *laughs*, but we kept rockin' out every chance we got at the Guitar Center, at a friends of his house, and when he signed on at EMI music publishing, he built his studio. The rest is history. I learned everything over there. Everything I know. Everything that lead me to where I am in my career now.

J Boogie: What was the first song you wrote with Walter? and which song was your first "hit"?

Candice Nelson: Ha!! Well, I can't say that I am the only writer he co-wrote with on the song now that I think about it, but the song was called "Affection". I think he was just re-visiting the song if I remember correctly.

Let me first "hit"?? I must say I don't feel like I've exactly had a "hit" by industry standards (or by Nielsen Soundscan standards either for that matter *laughter*), but I'm proud of most of the records I've had a hand in creating. I'm just fortunate to have an outlet, and to be able to say this is my profession is awesome. Also, I can say with great certainty that there will be hits in my near future. I've got my fingers crossed!

J Boogie: Well Candice maybe in Soundscan's eyes you haven't, but in your fan's eyes you have SO many hits!

What's the writing process like for you? Do you come up with what you want to write on the fly or do you plan based on the artist you're writing for? And what inspires you? Anything in particular?

Candice Nelson: Well, I guess it's different every time. Sometimes I'm inspired by something I saw or heard, and other times, I just try and feel out the music. Sometimes, I would try and think of things an artist might want to say prior to going in to lay down ideas. I'm inspired by people. People's stories are fascinating. Knowing where they've been, how they got where they are, where they would like to be.

J Boogie: Well let's talk about artists you've worked with, has there been a favorite? Any memorable sessions you'd like to share?

Candice Nelson: Well pre-Clutch, there were the Brandy sessions. TOTAL CAKE WALK! She's just brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Though I never saw her in action, I know that once you hand Brandy an absolute SKELETON of a reference, you can expect that it will be returned to you with the most beautiful vocal arrangements you'll ever hear!

And then there's Timbo...*sigh* Where does one begin? I've never seen anyone work so fast and STILL produce a smash. His melodic sense is incredible, and, well, I'm sure his fans are well aware of what he does to a set of drums. He is Master of all percussion. Timbo is the best session EVER.

Karen Clark-Sheard...ROYALTY! She blew me away!

The Clutch session with Fantasia was yet ANOTHER cakewalk. She is incredibly talented. Sings SITTING...I mean BELTS!! Plus she's a total sweetheart. I'd have to say those were at the top of my list.

J Boogie: Wow sounds like you've worked with some true talent! Yeah let's talk about Timbaland for a second, the man is BEAST on the beats. How did the collabo between you two come together?

Candice Nelson: Walter Millsap met Timbaland, and played some of his stuff for him, some of which had been done with me. Walt has a very extensive list of work. I was fortunate to have him walk me into this industry. Tim was impressed by what he heard, and asked that Walt come down and do some stuff for Kiley Dean. Walt took me to the sessions, and everything just clicked. It was really a dream come true! I couldn't even SPEAK, I was so awestruck. When I heard he wanted more stuff from us, I was just overwhelmed. Next came Brandy, J-Lo, and Alicia Keys. It just worked.

J Boogie: So based on those sessions Tim must have really liked what he heard, as you were featured on tracks such as LL's "Can't Explain It" and Tim & Magoo's "Insane"

What was that experience like singing on a Timbo beat?

Candice Nelson: Wow...well, it's funny because "Insane" felt really good. The track felt so good to me. It was like it was begging to be interpreted. I'm sure, however, that the skillfully woven tapestries known as Timbo beats mean different things to different people. I know it felt wonderful to jump on each and every one of the songs we've ever had the privilege of doing with Tim. Real talk.

His work is so unique, it's...well, "Insane"! *laughs* I appreciate his work so much that it felt surreal being in the studio singing over it. "Can't Explain It" was really fun to record also. It was a little different than what I'm used to, but it's such a sexy track that, well, you know the end result. A sexy record. Tons of fun. It felt great.

J Boogie: I have to say "Can't Explain It" is my personal favorite Candice/Timbo track. Your vocals over that beat are truly magic!

During your Timbo sessions, were the tracks you all laid down written and created right in the studio or did Timbo create the tracks around the demos you and Walter had sent him?

Candice Nelson: Well the way Walt and I would work was kinda different. Tim would have the tracks already usually, or he would be finishing them up while we were there. He does beats so FAST!

J Boogie: So you created the lyrics based on the beat or the beat was already there and you crafted the lyrics around that?

Candice Nelson: Well, usually Walt and I would write to the beat he had already done and sometimes he would build the music around what we had written, just kinda like give us the skeleton and Tim's melodies. I mean, really, I am blown away at his abilities. He would give us melodies for the song, too. He's a visionary. Experience of a lifetime.

J Boogie: It sounds amazing Candice, I wish I was there to see that!

So let's switch gears, you are currently part of a collective of amazing artists called The Clutch. Who exactly is The Clutch? And how did it come about?

Candice Nelson: Well, J, I'd LOVE to answer that question, but it's such an interesting story that I think we'd better set up The Clutch interview. That would be the BEST way to get the story *smile*. I can say that this is the best group of people I've had the opportunity to work with, I mean, I've met some amazing individuals, but the collective of the The Clutch? Out of this world. Really truly beautiful, talented people. I'm so glad we met.

J Boogie: : What projects are The Clutch currently working on?

Candice Nelson: Well, I'm not sure I'm at liberty to say exactly what we've been working on, but we've done some work with Tim, Danja, and Bloodshy and Avant that should be a pleasant surprise for the world. Well, at least those who know/care about what we bring to entertainment. I'll say I anticipate an increase in the number of Clutch fans out there. Any day now... *smile* Oh, and some of this stuff might be in that Clutch interview *wink*.

J Boogie: Sounds great! I'm and I know a lot of other fans are looking forward to hearing what more you all have to offer. I have a strong feeling that 2007 is going to be the year of The Clutch!

So on a final note Candice do you have a wish list of artists you, yourself, would like to work with?

Candice Nelson: Well, luckily I have had the pleasure of working with Ms. Keri Hilson! Hopefully you'll hear our collaborative effort on the album. I'd LOVE to work with Jennifer Hudson, Jazmine Sullivan, John Mayer, Chris Martin, James Mercer (The Shins), Leigh Nash, Sarah McLachlan, Seal, Celine Dion, Madonna, Anita Baker, Nerina Pallot, Brandy (of course!), Gwen Stefani, Keyshia Cole, and I'm sure there are many I forgot to name.

J Boogie: Wow Jazmine Sullivan and Candice Nelson? I don't think my ears could handle that! Well I thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview.

Candice Nelson: Yes sir!!! Thank you so very much for all your support and encouragement. It really makes us feel good about what we do. We won't let you down!!! And thank YOU J! Always a pleasure!
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