Getting naked with Rhye
Thursday October 11 2018, 10:13 am, Flaunt Conference Room.
On a cold Thursday morning, something very unusual for LA, I hole myself up in our conference room surrounded by old magazines for warmth. I use the light of my laptop screen, which is recording the interview, as candle light– the millennial version of a victorian landscape. I’m forced to look at myself in photo booth while I wait for the phone to ring, anticipation growing on my face. I was told, “never meet your idols” and I lived to relay the same sentiment, through experience, on to others. When I hear Mike Milosh’s, Rhye’s, voice I hoped this time would be different. I start,
JH: I’ve listened to your music for a couple of years now, and I’ve always thought that it felt really personal. It almost feels like somebody is whispering in your ear and I wonder about that intimacy, Does it feel that way for you?
RHYE: Maybe what you are catching on to or experiencing is my own personal relationship to the words. I only write about personal experiences. I don't try to force songs out, I wait for something to happened. It’s either in the actual moment or I’m channeling something recent – it’s a very immediate process and very intimate as not a lot of people are involved. I purposefully create a vulnerable environment.
JH: Do the songs start or come through in a certain way?
RHYE: I usually turn on everything and see what comes out. I hope that my emotional state will guide me to a tone – the sonic sentiment I’m trying to evoke. I don't write down lyrics and try to fit them into a song, I record myself mumbling. Once played back, I can kind of hear all of these things aren’t yet there, they are like half-words. I’m having a conversation with subconscious self then I’m able to edit or refine it, in that way it feels like the most honest version of myself.
JH: Going back to intimacy, I read that the cover of Blood is of your girlfriend’s naked body – an image of something that could be so private can also be experienced by everyone.
RHYE: That was a day me, my girlfriend – Geneviève, and my manager were driving to Iceland after I had done a concert. We stopped to sightsee and Geneviève had jumped into this freezing glacial lake, she grew up on a mountain and is very comfortable in environments that might shock other people. She was just drying off in the sun and I decided to capture that moment.
I don't think of that nudity as hyper-sexualization because it really is just the most natural state of a human being. Geneviève also has a different relationship to nudity. It’s intimate and clothing is kind of this shield of armor that we place on ourselves as protection. The cover is indicative of the experience of making the album - us traveling, writing, and experiencing things together. It just felt very natural that she was the cover.
JH: You talk about environments as almost expressive or inspiring. What else do you find inspiration in.
RHYE: I’m incredibly interested in film. I think my end goal is to make a feature-length film one day. I do all of the photography and DP’ing of my visuals and this whole process has helped me create a universe for myself. I think I’m most interested in portraying feelings than narratives. There’s nothing wrong with them but it’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m also interested in people who aren’t focused on what’s right or wrong in creating. I like vulnerability. I think we all have some trouble expressing our honest emotions so it’s interesting to see them expressed through others.
JH: I think it’s beautiful that you said you want to capture feelings, I was just watching the visuals for “Hymn” last night and it does just that. I thought it was funny that one of first comments read “why is this called a visual and not a music video?”
RHYE: I saw that!
JH: Do you see the “Hymn” as a just a visual aid?
RHYE: I purposely distinguished it as a “visual” because there was no concept or budget. It was recorded over two days in Big Sur, I just kind of let my mind be free and capture whatever felt right then. Geneviève is weirdly talented at climbing through waterfalls and other locations but it was challenging for me, I thought that play would be interesting to capture.
I had to have an edit in by that Friday so I just started putting pieces of it together in Premiere, which I had just downloaded, and tried to find moments that embodied the feeling of “Hymn”. I think the visual captured the witchy-ness of the song.
JH: It totally could stand alone, I mean even without the sonics it feels like a complete feeling. There was one shot that really stuck out to me, though – You were looking down at a wave coming in shore it did feel almost unnatural.
RHYE: Yeah, that specific shot was reversed. It’s subtle but the wave is doing the wrong movement when you pay attention to it.
JH: Yeah it caused me to sit on the visual that much longer, it felt like a meditation on the song.
RHYE: I’m glad that you caught that part. It’s always nice to know that somebody is paying attention to the little details. I put a lot of energy into everything that I do and I spent a lot of time thinking about that specific shot and making sure I had the right framing. It almost has this feminine or sensual energy to it even though it’s just a big wave.
JH: That kind of sums up your music perfectly, that metaphor. Do you think there is a certain formula for perfection in making your visuals or sounds.
RHYE: That’s a tough question because I don't know if there’s a perfect song or a perfect Rhye song. I actually think perfection a trap. What I go for is honesty and hope that it translates to an audience – that being the ultimate challenge especially when crowds are a little more rowdy or buzzed.
JH: Is there anything else you want to share about what’s to come.
RHYE: I just released the remix of “Waste by RY X” in what will culminate in Blood Remixed. He is a good friend of mine and I’m very jealous of his musical abilities which I think is a very beautiful feeling to have. His whole translation of the song “Waste” is beautiful. Geneviève actually shot the video for it and there’s already been discussions that she put in too much nudity in it. I’m excited for all for Blood Remixed as it doesn’t feel like drum beats over an existing song, they all reinvented it!
10:31 am, Flaunt Conference Room.
I could’ve asked 30 more questions but I end the interview feeling like everything was right in the world for those few moments we spent talking. I wait in a hopeful fever dream for his live show at the Glass House the following Thursday.
Thursday October 18 2018, 8:10 pm, The Glass House Pomona.
I finish a cigarette bathed under a neon “cocktails” sign outside of the Glass House as a group of on-lookers watch through the clear walls of the venue. I think back to Mike and I’s phone conversation – moments can be both intimate and private. The Glass House is this personified.
I go to the bar while the band “Your Smith” plays their last song. I go to order an old-fashioned and to people watch, my eyes to shift to the backs of peoples shirts and empty cups at empty tables.
9:15 pm Sharp.
Between sips of whiskey and photos of passerby’s the siren call that is Rhye’s voice shakes the venues fragile walls. I’m told I have to make my way through the crowd to reach the photo area. A modern day Homer’s Odyssey- siren calls, rock - the glass walls, and a hard place - a sea of drunk, adoring fans.
9:17 pm, Front of stage.
I begin to sway and lose myself, not unlike the experiences I’ve had alone with his music half-forgetting to take the occasional photograph.
9:23 pm, Back of the house.
I take in all of the intimate moments going on in the crowd, knowing Mike would be proud of the translation of his words to physical moments. I too felt comforted knowing that my feelings were echoed in the crowd that night.
Rhye’s words extend into the physical and I’m glad that I got to witness it first hand. If you too want to have an out-of-body experience to his sounds catch him at the dates below.
October 20th 2018, Ace Of Spades , Sacramento Ca
November 8th 2018 , Irish Village, Dubai India
November 10th 2018, Clockenflap, Hong Kong, China
November 11th 2018, Neon lIghts, Singapore, Singapore
November 14th, Modernsky lab , Shanghai, China
And more in 2019!