They say the strongest swords are forged in the hottest fires.
The adage rings true in the saga of Rain Man, whose life became an inferno following the explosive 2014 fallout from the split of his former band, Krewella. But as the embers of the pandemonium flickered out over the years, so did his habit of allowing his past to dictate his future.
Rain Man, whose real name is Kris Trindl, recently set alight the kindling of a new chapter with the release of "Still Young," a poignant, chest-thumping electronic track recorded alongside longtime creative collaborator Oly.
The song is a microcosm not only of Trindl's resilience, but also that of humanity after a lonely year thanks to the wrath of COVID-19. And after some serious reflection, it seems we're witnessing a bona fide comeback.
Today's Rain Man is a far cry from the artist of yesteryear. The walls caved in on Trindl following Krewella's nasty split, and finding strength in adversity was difficult. It's something that sounds easy to those who haven't experienced similar torment—there's something toxic about thinking a person can recreate himself on a whim, as if it were as easy as waking up one day and deciding to move on.
But it takes time to emerge from a real-life fever dream.
Marred by lurid histrionics, the debacle was one of sad familiarity—a story that had the right amount of star power, controversy, and razzle-dazzle to be blown out of proportion by a gossip-hungry music community. Deplorable media outlets like TMZ ran sensationalistic headlines that grossly portrayed Trindl as a depraved addict and the Yousaf sisters as the Machiavellian architects who orchestrated his demise.
Despite the media's relentless attempts to spin the story into a hit piece on all three members of the trio, Trindl says he stayed focused on his growth. "The public fallout from Krewella didn’t really change my journey," he tells EDM.com. "Obviously it played out on a big scale, but I was more focused on figuring out like, 'Okay what's next?' This was my band for seven years. Where do I want to go from here?"
In the aftermath of Krewella's fracture and a 2013 rehab stint due to alcohol abuse, Trindl says he dedicated his time to rediscovering his love for music production and performing. Now that the dust has settled it has cleared a path to a promised land where he can he reinvent himself at his own pace, detached from the breakneck indulgence of touring.
"It wasn’t an easy oath to take. I had to constantly tell myself, 'Just move forward man, don't dwell,'" Trindl said. "It ended up bringing really positive things back into my life. I had time to be a better brother to my sisters, a better friend to my homies, and take some time for myself to just enjoy the simple things."
Rain Man says "Still Young" was created with that goal in mind—to cultivate a sense of togetherness after toiling in isolation. "With the production of ["Still Young"] I wanted to express how much I felt that everyone has to offer one another," he said. "During lockdown I think many people realized how much we had been taking for granted."
The parallels to Trindl's old demons are crystal clear in the track, rooted in lines like, "Running deep into our darkness 'cause we're blinded by the lights." However, this time around, his lyrics were penned by a writer with a new set of values.
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"I've learned to just slow down. Everything in moderation. To me it's most important to be stable and happy, always looking towards the future and how I can grow," Trindl said. "I definitely got caught up back then trying to do too much all at once, all the time, and it resulted in my going rehab and learning how to recenter. Life is a journey to be cherished every day and not a sprint. It took me a while to learn that."
"['Still Young'] was created during the height of the pandemic and I was learning a lot about myself—I think I was also witnessing others learn about themselves as well," Trindl continued. "I was seeing more people act in small kindnesses towards one another, as if we were all kind of realizing that the fabric of our society is delicate and important. We have to be there for each other."
That notion is most genuine when it comes to his alliance with Oly. The prolific Las Vegas singer-songwriter has teamed up with Rain Man many times in the years since his departure from Krewella, filling the void created by the absence of his former bandmates. He says their musical relationship began in 2015, when Oly tagged him in a tweet along with the late Avicii.
"[The tweet] said something like, 'I know you guys both like to use guitars in your productions, I'm a guitarist and songwriter myself, let's collab,' and she linked us to her YouTube page," Trindl explained. "I was lucky enough to see the tweet and click on the link. She had multiple covers and originals, playing both guitar and piano, and I was blown away."
Within weeks they had created "Bring Back The Summer," a sun-kissed anthem that dropped on Steve Aoki's renowned Dim Mak Records imprint before becoming a global dance hit. Since then, they've managed to weave a beautiful musical latticework of blood-pumping bass and aching electropop.
When asked if his new single signals the de facto resurgence of Rain Man, Trindl confirmed and gushed about the music he has in the pipeline. "It's time for me to share all of the music I've been working on," he exulted. "I'm not just a DJ, a music producer, a guitarist, or a songwriter… I'm a musician and I'm going to get all of this art that I've been creating out into the world. The times of sitting on finished records that I love and want to share with people is over."
"Still Young" functions as a nostalgia machine, hearkening to our chronic desire to hold onto our youth for as long as we can. But it also dovetails with our obligation as humans to evolve—a principle that Trindl now has in his bones.
"Music has always been my creative outlet. I can't step away from the guitar or Ableton for a week without feeling the need to be back putting something down," he said. "It's been a constant learning experience and I have discovered so much. I’ve been studying the art of music production."
Rain Man's sound in the future, he says, will be much more organic. He notes that he used a lot of synthesizers and digital plugins in 2012 and 2013, but now utilizes live instruments and plays bass instead of programming those sounds using his DAW (digital audio workstation).
"I'm recording guitar on tracks every day, and I've discovered some cool recording techniques," he explained. "For example, playing a guitar lick direct in to Ableton, opening that source audio in Melodyne and further manipulating the sound from there, and then after that comes all the processing like distortion and delays. I've also been recording my own claps, snaps, kick drums. I used to use samples, but the feeling of creating my own samples makes it much more personal."
You can find "Still Young" on streaming platforms here.