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“We’re pretty grateful to be where we are.” | An Interview with Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio

Originally published on KDHX.org

Kyp Malone, guitarist for TV on the Radio, calls me from the steps of his Brooklyn apartment in New York. Sirens are going off in the background. It sounds like the beginning of a song he might write.

TV on the Radio have dominated critics’ lists for over a decade, consistently dazzling fans with their monolithic sound that is one part art experiment, one part indie-groove. Born and bred in the heart of Brooklyn, the band encompasess an otherworldly sound, constructed from heavy curtains of synth tones, fuzz-laden guitars and sprawling drums that ebb and flow. Bandmates Malone, Jaleel Bunton, Tunde Adebimpe and David Andrew Sitek are multi-instrumentalists, taking turns at heading guitars, bass, beats and loops, with Adebimpe as the primary vocalist.

TVOTR’s latest album, “Seeds,” is a slight departure from its previous albums, somehow scaled back and less foreboding. A little brighter at times, even optimistic.

Malone puts his mind where his mouth is — he’s soft-spoken, intelligent and a little reserved, as you might imagine, but he warms-up quickly and we chat about the band’s state of mind, side projects and getting older. TVOTR returns to St. Louis for a sold-out show at the Ready Room on May 13, 2015.

Kevin Korinek: You still live in New York, but Sitek and Adebimpe reside in L.A. Does that separation make it more difficult to put together an album?

Kyp Malone: In some ways, maybe, but then not in others. The Internet being what it is these days, we’re able to make things work, share ideas easier. But it does change the dynamic.

It must give you guys a lot of time for your side projects. Are any of those really serious endeavors or are they just kind of ways to stay creative in-between TVOTR albums?

No, I think art and projects, a lot of them are pretty serious, you know. It’s important to keep making art, that’s why we’re here. And I think channeling that differently, in different ways is important, to put the time into that.

You guys put a lot of time into your albums, too.

Yeah, we put A LOT of time (laughing). But we take it seriously, we remember why we’re here and we’re pretty grateful to be where we are.

Do you still consider New York the creative mecca it’s kind of become known to be?

I don’t think so, not anymore. I mean, there’s still a lot of really cool people doing really amazing things here, but I don’t think it’s a mecca. It’s a good place to be if you want to…be a banker. Or work on Wall Street. It’s a good place if you want to make a lot of money. But I don’t think the city really supports the arts like it used to.

You’re credited with discovering Sharon Van Etten.

Well, I wouldn’t say I discovered her, I think she would’ve made it even without my help. But I was so glad to help her. She’s an amazing artist and performer and she’s grown so much in such a short time.

She played in St. Louis back in the fall and I got to chat with her for a few minutes. She’s an amazing songwriter, easy to talk to — just a super nice person.

Yeah, she’s so talented. She deserves everything she gets, she really works hard for it.

Speaking of St. Louis, I saw you guys play at LouFest in 2011. I’ve been a long-time fan, and your albums are so meticulously-produced, I always wondered how you would pull that sound off in a live show. Does that make sense?

Yeah, it does, definitely. You know I don’t think that every show needs to be an exact copy or a representation of an album. I think what we’re doing now is a more developed sound, more expansive.

Did you say expensive?

No, expansive. But yeah the shows have gotten more expensive, too! (laughing).

There’s been a little bit of chatter about you guys being too old or starting to age and that affecting your music. Do you feel older as a performer?

Yeah, you know, I don’t know if I would say that, but if there’s any truth to that, I would say I’m accepting it. It’s just getting older, but, you know, take Mick Jagger for example. I could fault Mick Jagger for a lot — A LOT — of things (laughing). People saying he’s too old to play music or rock ‘n’ roll and sing and do what’s he’s doing. But in the end, that’s what he’s always done. He’s 70 years old. What else is he supposed to do? That’s all he’s ever done, you know?

Thanks for speaking with me today. Anything else you want fans to know before your show in St. Louis?

Black lives matter.

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