Courtesy of Corona Capital Guadalajara
Rhye On The Meaning Behind 'Spirit,' Vulnerability In Songwriting & More
Canadian singer/songwriter Mike Milosh has won fans all over the world with his mix of R&B, soul, ambient pop and smooth vocals under the moniker Rhye.
Originally a duo with Danish producer/songwriter Robin Hannibal, Rhye initially piqued listeners' interest with the 2013 debut Woman. Despite its positive attention, Milosh made a point not to be the center of Woman's promotion in the media. "We just didn't want to be in the imagery of it because we wanted people to have their own experience with the songs," he told NPR at the time.
Two albums later, Milosh is back with the newly released Spirit. Dropped on May 10 with little notice as the follow-up to 2018's Blood, Rhye's latest captures his falling back in love with playing the piano, which for him served as a meditation after touring.
"I'm kind of stoked that I got to do this Spirit record," he told the Recording Academy. "I had the time to put it together after touring and it happened really quickly so I'm just glad that it's out ... it's very nice to have a really positive reception to another record that no one even knew I was going to [release] ... We didn't hype it up for a long time, we just kind of dropped it and were just like, yeah, we've got another record."
The Recording Academy caught up with the singer at Corona Capital in Guadalajara, Mexico to talk about the meaning behind Spirit, how traveling inspires him, the vulnerability behind performing the songs he writes and more.
You're in Mexico for a few performances. What vibe does the audience give you here?
Energy, energy, energy. Happiness. I remember one time I did a really gentle song and this one guy yelled out, "I'm so happy!" And everyone kind of, in a really loving way, laughed at him. And it was actually really sweet. So my experiences in Mexico with the audiences are particularly nice.
You just released your latest album, Spirit. What inspired it?
Well, for me, Spirit became a meditative process with the piano. I did an insane amount of dates last year, and when I got to my last date, I'd been gifted this grand piano—or, I was asked to take care of it. I just started waking up every day and playing, not for any purpose, but just the joy of just kind of meditating through playing piano and then that grew into what the record became. But for me, that's like a really good way to become introspective and that introspection kind of allows you to heal a little bit from the amount of touring and just kind of go through the emotions in a gentle, peaceful way.
Is there a meaning behind its cover art?
Well, it's my girlfriend, Geneviève. I shot it. I shot the Blood record as well. Blood we shot in Iceland in a glacier lake. She came out, was drying off [and] I shot that. Spirit we shot also in glacier lakes, but in New Zealand. So it's kind of amazing that I've been able to bring Geneviève at the end of tours and then me and her and some friends will have adventures and explore a region like Iceland and New Zealand. It's this beautiful moment for me just to do photography with her. It's part of the adventuring. We're looking for environments that will give us the essence of the record, because I've already made the record at that point and I'm just trying to capture a visual image or a visual component that oozes the sentiment. I think I got to do that in New Zealand.
You're in the middle of playing several shows. You've mentioned healing from touring. What's the touring experience like for you?
I love touring, so I've no complaints about touring. It's just, we did well over 100 dates, which means you're in a lot of planes and you're in a lot of hotels and then not getting sleep because you've got to be up super early. That being said, the shows were incredible and all the places that we got to see were amazing. We got to play places we haven't played before. I'd never played in Hungary before, for example. I got to play a big festival in Hungary, it was really phenomenal. Just going back to Lithuania for the second time was amazing and playing the new festivals in England. I don't know. I'm in a really lucky moment in my life I guess where I get to play these incredible festivals and have really good private shows.
You're also going to play a few dates in Canada soon, including some cities that you've never been to. What does it mean to you to play a city for the first time?
It's exciting, for one. But then there's a little bit of fear there too because I don't know if anyone's even going to show up to the concert, you know? So we always try to do a smaller play and keep it intimate and just try to have a much more connective moment the first time I come to a city. In Canada, it's particularly nice because I am Canadian so it's nice to actually do a full-fledged Canadian tour where I get to play all these cities that I haven't actually touched yet. I haven't had the time in the last like five years to do that just based on tour routing and finances and all that stuff so it's actually nice to actually get to do it.
Does traveling influence your songwriting?
I think so. 100 percent. I'm a big fan of the feeling of having brand-new eyes, looking at something for the first time. You get that a lot when you're traveling because you're in a brand new place, you're not caught in a rhythm or a rut. So traveling, for me, influences my attitude in some way. I have a sound, and I get that, but I feel like I'm constantly looking at things a new I feel.
How does it feel to be able to put your feelings out there to such masses?
That's a huge question. The short answer is it feels really good. The longer answer is, you are always taking a chance that someone's going to come back and, I don't know ... You're easily insulted when you go that vulnerable, so I don't really look at a lot of comments at first until my manager or Geneviève have said that the comments are positive, I guess. Because I don't want that to get into my head. It's a really beautiful thing though, to just find people in the world that want to hear music that is introspective and emotional, and coming from a place of sometimes healing, sometimes going through things, or sometimes elation or joy. The people that like the music I'm making seem to be also in touch with their emotions.