Listen Up! Kandace Springs Works with Legends, Flips Whips

 All images courtesy Kandace Springs; car images straight off her iPhone

Nashville, TN, vocalist/pianist Kandace Springs sings like she could be Sade’s sister. Her music is smoooothed out and jazzy, with elements of throwback soul and modern hip-hop. We’re feeling it.

We’re expecting big things from Springs’ debut album out this season on Blue Note Records, based on the strength of her self-titled EP from 2014 and her choice collab with Ghostface Killah, “Love Don’t Live Here No More.” And because she’s working with a murderer’s row of hot producers and songwriters.

We’re talking Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Brandy) and Malay (Frank Ocean), as well as Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers who run Rihanna’s production company. Throw in people like Dan Wilson who wrote “Someone Like You” for Adele, and that’s heavy artillery. 

One thing we did not expect: Springs was selling a few cars during our interview.

We talked to her about flipping cars, her album and the coolness of accompanying Ghostface on solo piano.

Car talk

I’m working on a Firebird I just got last night. It’s a ‘98 but it has the WFX hood on it. It’s just a stupid V-6, 3.8 liter. But it’s nice. The whole engine’s been redone. I also have a Corvette, a ‘53 Bel-Air and a Jeep Wrangler. I’ve had those. The Firebird I got yesterday. I also had an MR-2 that sold yesterday, and have a Grand-Am that I’m selling today. I love flipping cars. The money is insane.

I started [flipping] two years ago. I got a little break here right now, taking a few weeks off making music. So I’m gonna go all out. I do a lot of the work myself. I have a diagnostic computer, so I can tell why the “check engine” light is on. Can change a tire, spark plugs, things like that. I get the cars from my friends. Or on Craigslist. And then I fix them, or just clean them. And sell ‘em on Craigslist. Private sale. One day I’m gonna get my dealer’s license and then go to auctions and just buy everything.


Lauryn Hill is one of my heroes, and I try to channel her. Sade, too. Billie Holiday. Nina Simone. I listen to old-school stuff.


I worked at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville and played at a bar up there on the regular for years. That was my little gig. There’s a lot of people in Nashville who do that kind of stuff. But then I got signed through Evan Rogers to SRP Records, and got a deal with Blue Note.


Somebody just pulled up to my house, I apologize. They drove for like over an hour to get here.

Rodney Jerkins

We sat down in the studio, and he doesn’t talk at all. Then turns on a track and and just bangs it loud, this hard beat. A drum track. And then this girl Carmen Reece and I started writing hooky melodies over it. The magic happened right there. The song is called “Fired Up.” It might be our single. Magic comes out of Rodney’s hands on that keyboard. It’s no secret. Last time I met with him to re-sing part of the track, he said Kanye West had just been over there.


With Malay, we started from the ground up. I played the Wurly, Fender Rhodes and piano. He started playing this old Gibson guitar. It was amazing. We made a song called “Out There.” We wrote from scratch. The song just formed. Malay’s still working with Frank Ocean right now, and I think Eminem.


I was playing piano at the studio, playing “Only For One Night” by Luther Vandross, and he just starts blowing and rapping over it. I was playing the chords, and he was goin’. It was so cool. Him just rapping over soul songs, no chop, no sample? That’s my favorite thing about him. That’s art. Most people can’t do that.

–Andrew Matson