Candy Royalle is a spoken word and performance poet. Working from Sydney, she has risen to national and international acclaim, performing at Sydney Fringe and winning the prestigious 2012 World Poetry Cup. The Daily Spread first saw Candy perform as part of a creative collective called Art Party, which brings new and established artists to the good folk of Sydney and Melbourne. Her set was captivating. She did not just read out lines that happened to rhyme but she became her words, embodied every sound and sentiment and turned poetry into something exquisite and unrecognisable. She began using loop pedals, turning her voice into an instrument that sang in and over itself, layering lines upon lines in an intricate tapestry of sound.
Candy gave us a brief peek inside the head of a complicated lady and a brilliant wordsmith.
The Daily Spread: When did you write your first poem?
Candy: It’s hard to remember the first time I wrote my first poem, but I do have a little book I wrote in when I was very young, maybe eight or nine years old. I must say, it wasn’t very good poetry. I’ve written my whole life since that time though and hope that I’ve improved somewhat!
Do you think you write better from pain or from joy?
A friend once put this into perspective so well and said “You can’t write about the Titanic whilst it’s sinking” and that is absolutely true. When I am experiencing absolute pain, I can’t write about it. Once some time has passed and I am not in the throes of emotional anguish, I can create some really solid pieces. I suppose it’s because I’ve then had time to process and digest and so the output is a little less raw. But when I am experiencing total joy – amazing gigs, falling in love, on the road et cetera – I can definitely write in the moment. These are never my strongest pieces, though. So to answer your question, I definitely write better from pain. My work is quite confronting and intense and I channel a lot of that original emotion into the piece. It can make for exhausting, emotionally draining performances though.
You use a lot of biblical and visceral imagery in your work – were you brought up in a religious family?
My father has always been an atheist and growing up, my mother identified as Catholic – though she too is now an atheist – and I went to a Catholic school. I was baptised and did my confirmation but made a conscious decision when I was 16 to stop taking communion and to no longer attend church (except in those instances where I had to during school hours). I am now a spiritual atheist but certainly those formative years where I was immersed in Catholicism have left some mark. Religion uses incredible imagery as a way to awe I suppose, so that we the people feel that there is something much more powerful and grand than us. I try to invoke those tools so that the poetry appears to be bigger than us. I also subvert religious imagery and sentiments in my work. I believe institutionalised religion is so disempowering and has a lot to answer for.
If you had a cocktail named after you, what would be in it?
I’ve never thought about it. And any response feels egotistical and contrived but I do make a mean lychee mojito and named it Creation… Whoa! How egotistical does that sound? (Laughs.)
What’s the ultimate dream?
I’m living it! I get to write, perform, travel, be heard, meet amazing humans and have extraordinary adventures. I get to see so much of the best of humanity whilst writing about the worst of it – it’s a good balance!
Art Party Tour Dates
Brisbane July 27
Melbourne September 21
Byron Bay October 5
For more information, check out poet and Art Party founder Jessie Ray.