Enter the Machine


Kyp Malone’s Rain Machine offers something fresh, vibrant, and new, as he tells Grace Duffy

Rain Machine is the brainchild of TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone, a band justly feted as one of the most influential and important of recent years on either side of the Atlantic. Yet, according to the man himself, the idea predates his work with this band, and is that little bit dearer to him because of it.

“About 2003, when I moved to New York, I had all these plans and ideas. I always had the idea in my head; I just didn’t develop it until I had the opportunity.”

This opportunity came to him when, in September 2009, TVOTR went on a hiatus after six years together. Kip decided to take his own ideas on the road, creating music similar to his previous band, though imbuing it with enough funk, rock, indie – and most importantly, soul – to make it his own. Malone’s voice veers from potent and passionate to haunting on album standout ‘Smiling Back Faces’, a song he says he is asked about quite frequently. Focusing in on the killing of African-American drug dealer Sean Bell in New York City in 2006, the song’s turbulent subject matter sets it apart from others on the album.

Asked as to whether addressing such political issues is important to him, Malone is sceptical in reply. “I think political is the wrong word. These issues aren’t the only type of political; that’s just what I chose to write about. I feel like other videos that may, for instance, have scantily-clad dancers, that’s a form of political too. That’s what it is in music. It’s all political.”

As part of TV on the Radio, Malone has had the opportunity to work with such revered names as David Bowie and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, experiences that no doubt helped to shape (at least in some small way) his music. However, Malone notes that it is not just such esteemed figures who inspire him.

“There are many things I’ve picked up along the way. Those are the ones that are mentioned most often cos people know them, but there are so many other people who mightn’t be known whose paths I’ve crossed, and from whom I’ve also taken something.”

As for the crowd reaction to his solo material, Malone says it has been “very positive,” and that tours in the US towards the end of last year yielded much fruitful feedback. He says, “I don’t really read reviews ‘cos I think all that is poison. I prefer to see how the crowd responds to it and the tours we’ve done have been really good.”

As is understandable – and with his next tour taking in Dublin in two weeks, the Irish crowds will undoubtedly be lining up to show their appreciation.