Aretha Franklin

Kandle Premieres 'Child of Fate,' Talks Learning Kill Techniques for Jack White's 'Corporation' Video

John Londono
Kandle

Kandle makes a great assassin in Jack White’s new video for “Corporation” and the Canadian pop noir singer really embraced the role, shooting, strangling, bashing, suffocating and stabbing. Don’t let the blonde pigtails fool you.

Besides the cool factor of starring in a mini movie for a man she used to imitate in front of the mirror with her guitar in hand, the 27-year-old learned proper techniques from a “kill specialist,” and from now on she might watch every crime drama with a new eye.

Kandle, who released her self-title debut EP in 2011 when she was 21, had a tough go after her In Flames album in 2014 got quite a bit of global attention. In one of those heart-breaking, career-stalling contractual feuds, her creative hands were tied and she spent the next few years fighting to get her livelihood back.

Now, she happily has new L.A.-based management, Fourward; a new label, Sleepless; new EP, Damned If I Do, released in May; and a forthcoming full-length Holy Smoke, out Sept. 28, produced by John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth) and Sleepless founder Alex Bonenfant.

The first single is “Child of Fate” and she just might murder some people in the video. She’s waiting for approval.

Kandle spoke to Billboard after a late-night songwriting session in Nashville about starring in the Jack White video, how she killed, her new single, and the road of betrayal to get to where she is now.

How did you get asked to be an assassin in Jack White’s video? Did you get a phone call?

It was first a Facebook message, and then they called me. It was also an early morning call, so I wasn’t sure if I was still awake or if I was dreaming. I was like, “This is very strange" [laughs].

Of course your immediate reaction is “Yes. Whatever he wants me to do”?

I was more like, “I don’t know how to act,” and they were like, “Sure you do.” They said they did a whole casting in Nashville and couldn’t find anyone murderous or violent enough, and I was like, “And I am, somehow?” [laughs].

Did they tell you why you?

No, I mean they knew my band and thought I could be a badass, I guess [laughs]. They said if I fly over the next day, I’d be with the kill specialist guy and learn how to properly murder people for a day.

What did he tell you?

Oh, it was amazing. Everyone on the crew was afraid of this guy, except me because we became best friends [laughs]. His name is Levi Montgomery and he trains interrogation tactics. He was in the army and now he’s mostly on movie sets, making sure the murders look real [laughs]. It was funny.  We learned different gun techniques and stabbing techniques and chokeholds, and if you’re stabbing someone he’ll say [in a drawl], “In real life, they don’t bleed that much.” I’m like, “oh my god.”

So now when you’re watching CSI or other crime shows, you’re like, “That’s not right.”

Now when I’m watching them, I’m like, “I want to do it.”

At what point did Jack arrive? I read a quote from you that when you were 10, you would pretend you were him in front of the mirror. Did you get a chance to tell him that?

Oh, no, I was definitely trying to keep my cool [laughs]. He was only there the first day. The whole shoot was like five days, a pretty big one. We had two days of prep and I shot for three days. Jack was there the whole day we shot in this crazy old mansion. The first thing he said to me — I was in hair and make-up — he walked by and said “Wow, you look fucking awesome.” And I like… [gasps].

And when you say shoot, you really do mean shoot. Killing people.

I killed them in many ways. Jack was super cool. We talked about [Montreal music festival] Osheaga a little bit. One of the years I played, him and Nick Cave headlined. It was the best Osheaga ever for me, having two heroes headlining. He’s very nice. So nice. You know St. Vincent’s female guitar she designed? He was playing that in the video.

He knows you have a new album coming out? Was he like, “Shoot me a copy.”

Yeah, he actually did say that, but it’s very hard to reach him. My new American managers have reached out to his team and they’re like, “We’ll keep trying.”

That’s a very cool experience. Your album is now finished. Your bio calls the last three years “an intense and winding” road, filled with “burnt bridges, broke living, and heartbreak.” Is that accurate?

Yea, it definitely is. My last record came out in 2014 and did pretty well. Since then, I trusted the wrong people and I signed my life away. I wasn’t able to make any more music. I wasn’t allowed, and I couldn’t make any money. I was completely trapped and trying everything I possibly could to move forward. That’s actually how long it took, fighting every day to continue making and releasing music and now I’m having to start all over again. It’s really hard to just continue with your head up and keep fighting after so many things have gone wrong and so many people have betrayed you.

Yikes.

But this is what I do and I love it and I will never stop or give up, and even this record, I wrote most of it three years ago. I have like two more ready but…

Did your dad [Neil Osborne from multi-platinum-selling Canadian rock band 54.40, together 37 years] try help guide you to get out of this deal?

Yeah. I mean he tried. A lot of people tried, but a lot people were very upset, and often seemed more angry than I was at what was going on [laughs].

Well it’s probably of little consolation to you because you had to live it, but you’re young and people are still excited and waiting for your second album, so it’s good that that was resolved and sort of a lesson learned I suppose going forward, right?

Yeah. Just never… trust... anyone… again.

It’s tough in this business. Well, not just this business, just life.

Yeah. It really is. The only perks to being older is you can handle these situations better now than 20-something. Early 20s me, when this stuff would go down — the contracts, and the money and all the drama — I’d have total breakdowns.

You pared down Holy Smoke to 10 songs out of dozens and dozens, picking ones the bio says “tackling sexual assault, abuse of power, life on the road, trauma, and pain.” Why those?

It’s not so much that I picked them. It’s just more or less what I always write about. Writing for me is very therapeutic, so I write when something is really upsetting me, or disturbing me, or something that I need to get off my chest. I don’t have a nice day in the park with my friends and then pick up the guitar and sing about it [laughs]. When there’s something really real that I need to address, that’s when I end up writing.

And that’s what led to the single, “Child Of Fate.” You were going through a difficult time personally.

I actually don’t usually write about boys [laughs]. You don’t know what’s going to happen until the first time you get your heart destroyed.

So the song poured out and was added to the finished album?

It seems like so long ago now. The album was finished a year and a half ago, and then "Child Of Fate" happened a month later and I was really sure I wanted to put it on the record. I thought we just made it, but I guess in retrospect I could have kept going anyway.

How did you feel when you got that breakup out in a song?

I had the same reaction I always have when I write songs. I feel good that I turned something that hurts so much, and was so upsetting, into something I’m proud of and can listen back and can jump on the couch in the studio and go “Yes! This feels right.”

Is it really therapeutic and puts you on a new mindset and path?

It’s definitely like a short high [laughs]. And every time I play it or whatever.

But now you’re in a good headspace, yes? New management. New label. Album finished.

Yeah, it seems like things are looking up. Every day is still a battle in this industry, trying to fight to get shows, trying to fight for opportunities, trying to be heard. There’s a lot of people out there; it’s hard to get noticed.

I did notice in the bio that your dad is not mentioned, a man that we all know in Canada, one of the most respected songwriters and band frontmen. Why is it that you choose not to have him in there, or is that just whoever wrote the bio decided not to include him?

That was more whoever wrote the bio, but also I think a lot of people make their own decisions or instantly judge me based on who my dad is, when we’re entirely separate people. I’m so proud to be his daughter. I think he’s the greatest dad and greatest songwriter ever. But musically we’re completely unrelated.

I saw you play with him at the Horseshoe anniversary shows in Toronto before Christmas.

I’m doing more stuff with them in August. I don’t know why but it ends up being the most drunken rock ‘n’ roll evening together.

Which I did not do with my dad.

Playing Kee To Bala. Oh gosh. That’s a rowdy one [laughs].

Will you be doing a video for "Child of Fate"?

I’m pushing to get it approved right now. I love doing videos. I often write my own concepts and treatments and get very involved with them [“Not Up To Me” won the 2015 Prism Prize Audience Award and was nominated for a Juno Award]. I have such a good idea for “Child of Fate.”

Does it involve killing?

[excitedly] It does, yes.

Now that you’re a pro.

And a couple of my rock star guy friends I want to star in it. I really hope we can make it. I would be like a Tarantino meets Fargo short film [laughs].