Hi Theo, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
You know, I’m just trying to figure out why the weather in LA is mocking me. It’s too nice out today for me to be in my dark little room writing my sad little songs. Other than that, I’ve been great! Trying to think positively.
Can you talk to us more about your single “STARSIGN”?
STARSIGN is my ode to the Scorpios – I’m a Scorpio myself – and now is the time we take a stand! Too long have we been maligned in the eyes of the astrological world; too long have we been relegated to the negative sidelines; we just want to party! Sorry!
Anyway, that’s the pep talk part. I’m psyched about STARSIGN. I’ve never really released a super high energy rock song like it, and I’m excited that people seem to be resonating with its attitude and mentality. The production process for this song was interesting – Beep and I went through at least three different versions and vibes before we landed on this one. We knew it was missing something, so we sent it to Justin Johnson (longtime collaborator) who beefed up a few things here and there and added some real drums (courtesy of Gregory Clifford).
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The ol’ classic “hey Mom what time was I born” kind of situation. It wasn’t anything super specific, but that’s happened to me a few times in the last couple years. Soon after one of those experiences, I got together with my friend Gabi Gotts. We were brainstorming ideas for “fuck you” kind of songs, and astrology was at front of mind. It actually took almost another year before I finished the song with Brooke Alexx, Ben Pleasant, and Aly Lakhani (Lackhoney).
What can you tell us about this new music video for “STARSIGN”?
The video was so fun to film – I flew to Nashville to work on it with my longtime collaborators, Gabe Drechsler and Trent Millspaugh, who worked with me on my visual EP, Spin Cycle (2021). They’re both amazing creative people, and for this video we wanted to capture the pseudo 2000s vibe of the song. Naturally, that brought us to a skate park at 8am (I can’t skate for my life), where I proceeded to actually lose my mind doing take after take. We snagged a sweet, disgusting couch from a local thrift store for $12, and dragged it around town, setting it up in the Nissan Stadium parking lot, a friend’s backyard, and the side of the road. It’s definitely the most manic music video I’ve ever filmed, and I think it complements the song very well!
The single comes off your new EP What if it all works out in the end? – what’s the story behind the title?
What if it all works out in the end? – that’s the question, isn’t it? I found myself writing song after song complaining about my current situation, looking back in nostalgia, wistfulness, or any other kind of negative emotion that binds you to the past, and I wanted to break that cycle. It’s funny – my last EP, Spin Cycle, ends up in the same place that it started, with the idea that the spin cycle of emotions after a breakup is inescapable as long as you situate yourself within it. This EP is different, decidedly more positive in its progression. I think that’ll become more clear as I release more songs off the project, but it definitely doesn’t finish where it started, and through the process of making it, neither did it.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was an amalgamation of sorts. I wrote the songs on the project over the last year and a half or so, but I guess pretty much all of the songs were actually recorded and produced in LA. I feel like I’m really hitting my stride as a producer, and that comes through in the collaborative process as well. There’s a good mix of co-producers on the project: Ben “Beep” Pleasant, who has worked with me since I started this whole thing; Wingtip (Nick Giles) who’s an amazing artist; Justin Johnson, who has had a hand in everything I’ve released since 2019, and Lackhoney (Aly Lakhani), an AMAZING rapper and producer who went to Vanderbilt with me and Beep. I think you’ll be able to hear their influences seep through, and I’m psyched for people to engage with the project as a whole.
What role does LA play in your music?
The funniest thing I think people do in LA is come up with ridiculous ways to justify when the weather isn’t perfect. If it’s overcast in May, they call it “May Gray,” or in June, it’s “June Gloom,” and so on and so forth. Maybe it’s just smog! Maybe it’s just global warming! Maybe the weather doesn’t have to be perfect all the time! Maybe people don’t have to be perfect all the time!
In a weird, convoluted way, that kind of perfect mentality has actually helped me out a lot. Despite all the fake shit you hear about people in LA, I think people are genuinely trying to improve their lives, whether it’s some hypebeast clothing brand they brag about starting or peacocking on Instagram at a cool rooftop club. It inspires me! At least enough to try to shift things around a little bit and make some music with a more positive outlook.
What else is happening next in Theo Kandel’s world?
Not much, just focused on drinking Miller High Lifes, absolutely crushing the Wheel of Time book series, and trying to find a pair of vintage jeans that make my butt look good but don’t rip when I bend over.