Catching Up With... Rain Machine's Kyp Malone

Music Features Rain Machine
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Kyp Malone seemingly had it all. But somehow, playing guitar and singing for TV on the Radio, contributing to Iran’s Dissolver album, producing the meaty second album from fellow Brooklynite Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson and owning one of indie rock’s most bountiful faces of hair was still was not enough. Under the Rain Machine moniker, Malone finally captures the songs that are entirely his own, pulling together broken blues, banjo folk and his soul-tearing voice on the self-titled set. Just before he headed out to rehearse with his touring band, Pastehis work and what it was like agreeing to a beard massage from Stephen Colbert.

Paste:well enough with TV on the Radio that it must have been hard to find time to get this solo project going.

Kyp Malone: It's a pretty privileged concern to have. The band became its own entity beyond anyone's expectations, and stopped really belonging to us because it succeeded by a lot of definitions. I feel like everyone in the band was wondering when they were going to do other work, even though it's awesome that people are interested enough in us that it would take that much time. Still, life is short. There're a lot of other avenues of exploration and things to do. I in no way want to seem ungrateful. I can't stress enough how blessed I feel to have found that creative family. I look forward to doing another record in the future. I'm preparing to do the live thing, but I'm happy to have a break, for sure. I know I'm not alone. It's been a long time.

Paste: What else made it the right time to put out a solo album?

Malone: I really was greatly enabled by producer Ian Brennan. There were periods where I had more time than when I went into the studio with Ian. It was because he approached me, and said, "Let's go into the studio," that it happened. I feel like two-and-a-half, three weeks over the course of a year was a generous amount of time to make a record by a lot of people's standards, but it was really quick for me. Ideally, I'm going to figure out how to write in a disciplined way outside of the studio. It's just that every time I get into the studio, it seems like the place to write, even if we have prepared stuff. I just grabbed what was in front of me. We did a track, I picked up another instrument, we did a track, I picked up another instrument.

Paste: Is there heightened pressure in the studio?

Malone: Not at all. It just feels like it's a place to create. Often times you're bringing in stuff that you've already been sitting with for a while. So you feel like you're creating. I really like being in the studio. It's not dependent on it, but I hope this record does well enough that I can continue to go back in. Now I've made more records in the studio than the living room, having to wait for the bus to pass. Not that I necessarily want to go back to that. I'm doing all this prep now, press and rehearsing a band, but I'd rather be just in the studio making another record.

Paste: How does your daughter Isabelle influence your songwriting?

Malone: If I'm concerned about an audience, I'd say that she's pretty easy on me. Using her as a barometer, well, she's pretty open-minded. If she doesn't like something I'm doing, then generally I should point it in another direction.

Paste: What will she say if she isn't feeling what you're playing?

Malone: Sometimes just that it's boring. It's funny. It's not whether she likes something or not. Often times, the thing that bothers her is that she can't get it out of her head. She doesn't like hooks. She would like to listen to music when she's able to not carry it around all the time. If it's something she can't get out of her head, I know that it's got a hook. I don't want to give the impression that I have her in a chair as a test-marketing group. It's much more casual. But she's someone who has an opinion I value, and she's mine.

Paste: There are a lot of emotional shifts in this work compared to your intense solo performances of the past.

Malone: I hope so. I think that creative work, music in particular, is a conveyor of inner emotional life. I don't feel one way all the time, so I don't want my music to feel the same way all the time. There's more variation on the album on the album than rockers and ballads, it's more elastic than that.

Paste: How did you decide which songs you would hold for this project?

Malone:stuff I made for TV on the Radio, I write in the studio. These are a couple of songs that I've written outside of the context of being in the studio. There's also a direction that I like to go that I have a hard time getting anyone to follow in TV on the Radio. So those songs are ones I keep for myself.

Paste: How did you decide to tour with a band?

Malone: I thought about just touring solo, but I didn't make that kind of record. When I tried to play those songs by myself, it felt like not giving them the full due. I really don't want to use a sampler. Sometimes I play with a loop pedal, but I'd much rather create a modular performance and retain the elements. I can sit and listen to someone play guitar, and I'm pretty well engrossed, but I also find myself often listening to someone play guitar at a crowded bar and finding myself more distracted and pissed off by the people yelling in the back who aren't really engaged. I wanna avoid getting into it with people who are loud or distracting.

Paste: Is a rain machine the thing they use in movies to make rain?

Malone:arbitrary place. TV on the Radio's name is completely arbitrary.

Paste: Tell me about producing Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson’s new album Summer of Fear (Saddle Creek).

Malone: He's definitely one of my favorite musicians going right now. I really like that record. I think his writing is great. I really like what we ended up doing and I can't wait to make another record. I think it'll be even better.

Paste: What drew you to work with him?

Malone: I knew about a bunch of the things that were happening in his life that were in the songs, and I appreciated the stuff he was listening to, what was inspiring him musically. I really wanted it to be a record. Almost as bad as he wanted it to be a record. I would do it again in the future. Regardless of my involvement, I would love to be checking out what he's doing for a long time.

Paste:moments of TV on the Radio's appearance on The Colbert Report earlier this year was Stephen reaching over and stroking your beard. Did you feel violated?

Malone: He asked me. Being on TV maybe changed things a little bit. I don't know why exactly it does, but it does. It seemed like it would make it more compelling to say yes than to say no. We had talked a little bit beforehand. I like him as a satirist, but he also seemed like a very good person. It was very comfortable to be around him backstage. He wasn't some drunk girl who had never touched black hair before pulling on my face outside of a bar.

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