Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio) Talks with Ruban Nielson (Unknown Mortal Orchestra) for the Talkhouse Music Podcast

"You can ask me whatever the fuck you want," says big-time UMO fan Adebimpe. And big-time TVOTR fan Nielson gladly obliges. It's a great conversation.

In 2000, Tunde Adebimpe and Dave Sitek formed TV on the Radio, one of the most creative, inspired and influential bands of their era. Fifteen years, five albums and a whole lot of ups and downs later, they’ve still managed to preserve that energy and vision. Which is pretty remarkable.

Ruban Nielson has also sustained a very long creative streak. Starting around the same time as TV on the Radio, he played guitar in a hard-edged New Zealand post-hardcore band called the Mint Chicks, and when that ended, he found himself in Portland, Oregon, around 2010. He began messing around with music again — making highly wrought, idiosyncratic basement recordings with an odd psychedelic feel. This new project — Unknown Mortal Orchestra — got a record deal, and Nielson began touring and gathering crowds and critical praise. The UMO sound has broadened and morphed over the course of three albums, right through this year’s release, the acclaimed and addictively strange Multi-Love.

In retrospect, it’s no surprise that Adebimpe and Nielson are huge fans of each other’s music — they have a similar creative spirit — and they have lots of other things in common too, as you’re about to hear. But, aside from the Mint Chicks opening for TV on the Radio many years ago, they’d never really met. What a great excuse to put them together and see what they talk about. And the answer is: a whole lot of very interesting things — like, when you write a song that comes from a deep emotional place, how do you find it in yourself to sing that song on stage, night after night — and sometimes for year after year? Where does inspiration come from? What does success do to creativity?

And there’s a lot more where that came from. Give a listen.

Tunde Adebimpe is a musician, actor, director and visual artist best known as the lead singer of the critically acclaimed band TV on the Radio. In addition to the band’s most recent record Seeds, he recently collaborated with Brooklyn’s Kayrock Screenprinting to release Tour Sketch Journos 2003-2014, a patchwork collection of drawings and writing from sketchbooks and journals kept during his years on the road with TVOTR from its inception to the present day.


Ruban Nielson is the singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Follow the band on Twitter hereand like them on Facebook here.