Asking a question, so many of us have, Theo Kandel is helping us find the answer to What if it all works out in the end? With his new EP! Taking us on a journey through his past memories, life lessons, and hope for the future be ready for an emotional ride. And, to accompany those feelings, we have an exclusive interview with Theo Kandel to hold our hand for the journey!
Giving us a look through recent discoveries, thoughts, and emotions, Theo leaves it all on the table with this EP, in hopes that everything will in fact work out in the end. Read about his inspirations, the thoughts behind his lyrics and so much more right here!
Thank you so much for talking with us today! You’ve said you gain inspiration from a variety of your favorite artists, but what do you think makes a Theo Kandel track yours?
I would hope it’s all in the songwriting. While my songs may span a number of genres, I think there’s a distinct “Theo” voice that runs through – somewhat ironic, sometimes bitter, but always earnest. A smirk and smile kind of thing.
If you had to pick one of your songs that represented your sound the most, which would it be?
That’s a tough question. The song that I want to represent my sound the most is probably “Me & All My Friends Have Got the Blues,” a kind of modern-day James Taylor, John Prine, Jackson Browne, folk/fingerpicky/funny/sad/touching/real kind of song. Despite that, I think “What if it all works out in the end,” the title track, probably best represents the bulk of the music I’ve released so far. It’s in the same vein as much of the Spin Cycle EP, but marks a new maturity to my songwriting and production. I actually produced and mixed that one by myself, my first time doing so, and I’m pretty proud of it.
You mentioned your new EP, What if it all works out in the end? is entirely different from Spin Cycle, with it not ending up in the same place it started. And, through the album’s progression, you also grew from where you started at the project’s beginning. What is the most important lesson you learned from the making of What if it all works out in the end?
Man, sometimes you gotta just take yourself less seriously. When I was writing Spin Cycle, I wasn’t in such a great place – I created this kind of sadboi confirmation bias. Maybe I’d wake up feeling a bit better some days, but I’d put myself right back where I started, telling myself I didn’t deserve to be happy yet. Not to get all self-helpy or anything, but it took a different kind of internal positive reinforcement to guide What if it all works out in the end? to its relatively hopeful ending. I think “EXISTENTIAL CRISIS” (emphasis on the all caps) is the song that captures that, basically me slapping myself in the face and saying “dude, pull yourself together.” More on that later!
‘Half as Cool’ is such a great tune for some serious life reflection, as everything did seem a lot funnier when we were younger. If you could grab one pastime memory and relive it for the first time today, which would it be?
Sleepovers with my friends, for sure. There’s just so much stupid shit you do with your friends when you’re thirteen and it’s 2am and you’ve chugged a six pack of Red Bull (feeling super cool) and you’ve been playing Call of Duty for six straight hours. An early teenage deliriousness that you can never get back, but always sticks with you, binds you to those friends for life.
An ‘Existential Crisis’ is something that really sucks if you’re going through it, but you somehow made it sound so carefree and chill. Can you tell us about the inspiration for the track? How do you deal when you’re going through an ‘Existential Crisis’? Any tips for your fans?
Real life, baby! The story is all real – “she said ‘I wish it could be casual’,” not caring enough to make my bed, bowling alone – and that’s all the inspiration I need. The term “existential crisis” has become such a buzzwordy kind of thing, and I think that subconsciously attaches a stigma to it that makes it harder to pull away when we find ourselves questioning our place in the universe. But it’s just a stigma, it’s just a phrase, it’s just a feeling. For me it helps to take a step back and just see those crises as overrated. There are small joys in life that often deserve more attention than questioning “WHO AM I??”
Within the first few words of ‘Me & All My Friends Have Got the Blues,’ we shed a tear. Is there really a Milo, and if so, how is he doing?
Oh, Milo is still kicking around – he made it to fifteen, although he continues to slow down. It’s a heartbreaking thing, watching your dog creep slowly towards death, but that’s the way of life. Dogs die, parties suck, the Mets lose. The inevitabilities of this world can’t be stopped, nor can they be ignored.
In the song, you say, “Our better days are all behind us, so it seems It’s not the living, it’s the moments in between.” Can you share one of those prime moments with us? How do you ensure you’re more focused on the moments rather than that end goal?
I read a quote (probably on some stupid TikTok slideshow or silly inspirational Instagram post) that says, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” There’s some dispute whether or not it originated with John Lennon or in some Reader’s Digest article, but it really doesn’t matter to me if the sentiment is there, and true. Life is not, despite what we tell ourselves – the grand moments, the triumphs and the losses, the extremes – but rather the accumulation of dead time, the quiet times – sitting at your desk in the morning with a cup of coffee, watching a movie on the couch with your friends, flipping your pillow to the cold side when you’re trying to fall asleep. The broth of the soup of life. If you lose that, if you lose your control group, then all you’re left with are the outliers, and that’s no way to be.
It can be hard to grasp the idea that things are not how they’re portrayed and romanticized. Was there a particular moment that sparked the inspiration for ‘Elegy?’
The song is, quite literally, exactly what happened last summer when I got back to Los Angeles after a bunch of bummer shows on the East Coast, culminating in a really great New York show. Get off my plane → weird, foggy Burbank night → stuck in traffic → disoriented and lost → mom calls me, asks me if I’m okay → can’t come home, I’ve got shows to play. No encores are organic anymore, it’s just expected now. How depressing is that! Despite that, despite the disillusionment, I like to think of “Elegy” as hopeful in the end, because that last show in New York actually was awesome – people were singing along and they came to see me play.
‘What if it all works out in the end?’ was a perfect way to end your EP! What made you pick the song as the title track?
I had actually started writing that song with my buddies Charlie Brennan and Ben Pleasant in April of 2021, at the end of my personal spin cycle. We didn’t get far, just the first half of the first verse and chorus, but when I was wrapping up the EP, I knew I needed something that didn’t just bolster my spirit, but encompassed the nuances of the rest of the songs. If you actually go through the lyrics of “What if it all works out in the end?” you can find little references to the other songs on the EP. A nice, lovely bow to wrap it all up.
What can fans expect in the last few months of 2022 or early 2023 from Theo Kandel?
Boy oh boy, I’m cooking up some good stuff. I’ve got literally heaps of folk songs up my sleeve, and I’m working on a new project that takes my sound in the direction I’ve always wanted it to go. A sprinkle of Simon & Garfunkel, a dash of Jackson Browne, and a healthy helping of James Taylor. We’re taking it back to the roots, but we’re growing a tree. Get ready, folks!
We love the words “new project,” and we can’t wait to see what Theo has in store! What songs off of What if it all works out in the end? What do you relate the most to? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us over on Twitter! You can also find us on Instagram and Facebook!
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