After her success as one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, some people may have forgotten that Kandi Burruss, a former member of the groundbreaking So So Def girl group Xscape, still does her thing in the studio. The songstress will be debuting her own Bravo television show “The Kandi Factory” in which she’ll provide up-and-coming artists with a platform to sing original songs.
The Atlanta Daily World’s Catherine Witherspoon sat down for a one-on-one with Kandi to talk about the Real Housewives, spotting talent and just what viewers can expect from the premiere season of “The Kandi Factory.”
ADW: I know you are excited about what’s going on with the Kandi Factory?
Kandi: Oh most definitely! Well I’m super excited because for one this is like my show that I get to go back to music, you know. Do what I love. It’s not about the Drama. Even though we have a little drama but it’s not about the drama. And then I’m executive producer on my own show. So to me that was a big deal for me. And, you know just stepping out of the housewives for a second.
ADW: Yeah! Because you’ve been with the housewives for like three years now?
Kandi: This was my fourth season?
ADW: Wow! Time flies
Kandi: It does! I mean I don’t know if I would have ever foreseen this but it’s cool.
ADW: Now how can you see or can tell if someone has talent or they just don’t have it? What’s your secret for it?
Kandi: Okay! First of all, if I ask somebody to sing and they come up with a whole bunch of excuses that is a pet peeve of mine. I cannot stand that. Like I don’t care if you was the best singer since Kim Burrell or somebody, like if you are going to give me excuses I’m not gonna beg you to sing. So, that is a problem. I love the tone of a person’s voice. Sometimes if they have a distinctive tone sometimes it’s not about how many riffs they can do or their range, it’s sometimes the person who has the real distinctive sound they sell more records than the person who can do all those riffs and hit all the high notes.
ADW: Don’t do all those hand-motions and stuff?
Kandi: Right! If you think about it, like it’s a girl in everybody’s church that can blow but that doesn’t mean she’s gonna get a record deal.
ADW: Now, what are you most excited about on the show? Is there anything in particular that you’re like, “Oh I can’t wait for someone to see”?
Kandi: Well, I’m excited for people hearing the music. Because the difference in our show than some of the other music shows out there is that all the songs are original. So, it’s no cover tunes. Like everything is totally brand new, specifically for that person.
ADW: Wow! Now I remember seeing the first” Kandi Factory” you had with Matthew and Melissa. Is it the same, like you are going to do a personalized song for them and then they just keep developing that and that sound?
Kandi: Basically it’s like the artist development process. That’s what the show is. So we give each person an original record, then we change their image, we give them a show put around that song and then they have to perform at the end of the day. So yeah, it’s the same but it’s going to be shorter. Because that was an hour and a half and these episodes are an hour.
ADW: Now from what I am understanding this seems like it sets you apart from all of the other talent shows that are on TV now.
Kandi: Well yeah, because like, with our show it’s two new people every week. Whereas with, you know, other shows they have the same group of people that’s going to go all the way through the season.
ADW: What made you come up with this format?
Kandi: It’s a combination of the network and the production company that I work with. It’s like everybody’s input. It was my initial idea to say, “Hey, let’s do a show about me helping people who always had a dream about being an artist.” And then from there we had to work out how we were going to do it.
ADW: Now do you see yourself, Kandi the artist, in some of your talent.
Kandi: Yeah! It was one young lady that I could see myself in her when I was her age.
ADW: Tell me a little more about that?
Kandi: Well I can’t tell you because I can’t give it away. Well it’s because I can’t tell you who won each episode.
ADW: Ok! Well I’m excited now to see what’s going on.
Kandi: Yeah! It’s hard to say what’s going on.
ADW: Well do you mother them or baby them sometimes because you see something in them?
Kandi: Well I do sometimes kind of give them extra advice. Like it frustrates me when I see them rehearsing and they are not even looking at like what would be the audience. “Why are you looking at the floor?” Like, stuff like that just irks me. Or if they don’t get the lyrics right. Like, “How are you supposed to be performing and you don’t know your lyrics?” Stuff like that drives us up the wall. Like, in our minds it’s like OK you keep saying this is all you ever wanted to do in life, here you are, going to be seen in front of millions of people and this is what you do? (Laugh) Oh my gosh! Come on now.
ADW: When they win, they get a song and they get a video, correct? Once that has been taken care of, how involved is “The Kandi Factory” in their career?
Kandi: Well, that’s all you get really. (laugh) No, seriously. Based off the TV show that’s all you get. But there were a few people that I want to help past the show. You get what I’m saying. So as far as the TV is concerned that is all people are going see on the TV show. But there were a few winners that we did work with this season that I was like, “They deserve to continue on and have me help them get to the next level.” For our show, like basically, we are just helping you get a platform to show yourself to the world. And basically that’s what it is. And I think some people, you know, they want you to do all this extra stuff for them and it’s like, No! (laugh)
ADW: Well, I got you on the show
Kandi: Now that’s what we did for you. You know like what you do after that is on you.
ADW: How did you find your contestants?
Kandi: Well a casting agency actually put them together. There were like thousands of people who sent in audition tapes so they narrowed it down. And then from there it went back and forth between me, Bravo! and Tru Entertainment. We all gave our opinions of like – we had to come up with all different age groups, all different races, all different genres of music. Like, we are trying to, you know, find something for everyone. You know what I’m saying. So, you know, there may have been people that I felt strongly about but the network maybe didn’t feel strongly about. You know what I mean? Like, we even have a young man who has autism that we worked with. And he did an awesome job. We had a young lady that flew here from Japan, like she was stationed overseas with her husband. It’s really cool because we gave a lot of people an opportunity they would have never had before.