In the words of Theo Kandel himself, he is an “Alt pop, singer-songwriter, sad boi extraordinaire.” And while I don’t disagree with his musical identity, I would like to amend it a bit. The definition of Kandel should include the sound of generations lost in between. His music is a collection of vibes without their own identity, those too old to identify with generation z and those too young to fully understand millennials. Perhaps we can now refer to them as the Kandel generation or sad boi collective.
Like many members of the sad boi collective, the past few years have been about self-discovery. Not only in the professional or educational sense, but also in the barometers of comfort. Kandel shows his own journey through his music. From his pop rock days in small clubs around New York City to the folkier undercurrents of Nashville, Kandel brings the two tempos and harmonies together in his work. “Every time I think I know what kind of music I want to make, I start making different kinds of music. And I think that’s influenced by the people that I’m with or the places that I go. Obviously the last year’s been tough. But I experienced a moderate amount of TikTok success which has been like the best thing ever,” said Kandel.
In October of 2020, seven months into the pandemic, Kandel and some of his friends decided to create bluegrass covers of pop punk songs. Their first video was a recreation of the ever-famous, “Mr. Brightside.” As of April 27, 2021, the video has more than 2.2 million views. They continued the trend with hits such as, “One More Time,” from Britney Spears, “Closer” from the Chainsmokers, and “I’m Just A Kid” from Simple Plan. If you’re having flashbacks to any of these early 2000s hits, you’re probably part of the Kandel generation.
Aside from learning the banjo, wood working, or testing the possibilities of TikTok—which were all quarantine hobbies Kandel picked-up—Kandel also released a series of singles. Really a trilogy of sorts, all were different iterations of Love & Other Complaints. As he described the projects, Vol. 1 tested his boundaries with sound while Vol. 2 was more comfortable. Vol. 3, however, was in my opinion, more of a reflective fusion of the two prior.
About the projects, Kandel said, “I had been kinda releasing a couple of singles here and there. But, during, I guess the beginning of the pandemic, it allowed me to focus on multiple projects and have it, in some ways, kinda the precursor to the Spin Cycle EP that’s coming out. Because it was a way for me to focus my energy on specific things, what I wanted to do was just explore the genres that I do.”
Spin Cycle, which is akin to a bath in the sun after a year in the shade, will be available June 18. While that’s just in time for, hopefully, post-vaccination beach days, a month and a half may still seem quite daunting. Luckily enough, Kandel has already released one single from the EP. Titled, “How Could Anybody,” has been accessible through Spotify since December. “i don’t wanna think about that,” the next single to be released from the EP, will be available on May 7. And finally, “Anaconda Hearts,” will be out May 28.
Not only will audiences be flush with Kandel’s music, but “It’s gonna be a visual EP as well. Every song has a music video and each music video, just as every song is almost like a snapshot, almost like a short story, or vignette or short film. Each music video is actually like a short film in that way. But all kinda build into this, maybe this is a little self-indulgent, but like an anthology kind of thing,” said Kandel.
Although Kandel didn’t want to give too much away about his visual anthology, he did say, “The single that’s coming out on May 7, the music video is bowling. Just me and my friends bowling and then playing in the bowling alley in a kinda pop punk style or 80s whatever. And then the next single, the “Anaconda Hearts,” I can’t say so much more cause I don’t want to spoil it. But we were able to get 2 six-foot boa constrictors to be on my body for the music video and on my neck, which was crazy.”
If your musical thirst still isn’t satiated, it probably will be shortly. “I’ve been writing a bunch more in these weeks and months before the EP is actually coming out, which makes me want to release more music. But I think the next project will probably be more pop-punk influenced. Because, like the pop punk songs from the early 2000s are still some of my favorite songs, that’s what I grew up on. So I’m trying to capture the mood of that and use that sound as an influence,” said Kandel.
Perhaps that sound can be found near you. To all of his existing and future fans, Kandel wanted to say, “I would love to come tour in people’s cities. It doesn’t really matter to me where it is. If it’s a house, if it’s a backyard, if it’s a little bar, if it’s a laundromat, I would love to play for you. Not my enormous fan base, but I think a pretty strong loyal fan base so far. And I think the fact that it’s grown so much in the last year just makes me want to go out and meet people. So I can’t wait to meet everyone.”