Rhye’s album Home was recently featured as WNXP’s Record of the Week. Mickey Parks spoke with Mike Milosh, the musical mind behind Rhye, about his latest project.
Mickey Parks: How are you and where are you right now?
Mike Milosh: I am in Topanga. The answer to how I am: I think like everybody, it is just a mix of lots of feelings. I am personally feeling pretty good, feeling creative. I have been very careful in this time. We do not even go to grocery stores. We just get our stuff from a farm that’s outside. I’ve put a lot of energy into being able to maintain being creative, but then there’s things that are really heavy about it, like I’ve got two parents that are really sick, and I was only able to visit them recently in Canada for two months.
MP: When and where did you make the album?
MM: I made it all in Los Angeles. I have a studio at my house studio that I built and set up before the pandemic. I purchased this house knowing that I wanted to start working from home and have a space that I can really build out and have it designed in a very specific way that suits the way that I work.
I’m a very quick worker. I like to have the sense of working at any time. I want to be able to play anything and it’s patched in and ready to go. When you go to a studio, there’s constantly breaking down and resetting up. I don’t like that to get in the way of my process.
I did record the [Danish National Girls’] Choir at United, which is a very large studio with a big room that can house a 50-person choir. The choir started in there, then I did a lot of the drums at the Complex in Santa Monica. That is where I did Blood and Spirit, those records. I did the drums there and everything else at my home studio.
MP: In an interview for the podcast No Effects, you said that “truth has a frequency.” How does that come into play when you are making music?
MM: Well, number one, I don’t put anything out into the world that I feel is dark or sinister. I am a very positive individual. I write from real experiences.
I do not write things to rhyme or to be gimmicky. They are not personas that I take on or a character.
I’m writing journal entries, essentially, that then become songs. The idea of truth has a frequency. I feel like that is what can give people the shivers. I do not think that inauthenticity works that way. Maybe it is just my weird bias towards it. In my process, writing from honesty is very important.
MP: “Black Rain” almost sounds as if you were looking over Quincy Jones’ shoulder when you created it. How do you go about capturing that sound?
MM: The whole record is very analog. I mean, we’re using a computer as the recording device, but there’s not a lot of plug-ins or computer wizardry in this record. There is a lot of analog recording from the preamps that I used, to the compressors that I used, to the EQ’s that we used.
The idea behind the drums is minimal miking, three microphone’s max. No overhead, no room mikes on the drums; they are very intimate. I put a lot of energy into the tones that are created. In terms of looking over Quincy Jones shoulder, I love Thriller sonically. I think it is an incredible sounding record. I also love records like Dark Side of the Moon. I also love the way Prince recorded. I like modern day production, which tends to lean a little bit more on the production than the songwriting sometimes. I kind of like anything and everything. But for me, I love a sound that is uniquely mine.
MP: When writing a song like “Helpless,” how do you balance the intensity of devotion and the everyday promise of a relationship?
MM: That’s an interesting question. I do not know fully how to answer it, other than you just have to be you, you know, I am this person that I’m writing for. The idea of finding your partner beautiful, I was inspired by that. I’m writing a song about that.
MP: So many artists have tried to find a way to respond to the times we’re living in. How have you gone about that?
MM: For me, the artist’s role is to convert positive, negative, beautiful, whatever feelings into songs. I do not try to deal with the times. I let the times that we’re in hit me. I let experiences come into my life, be it good, positive, negative sexual, release, fun. I try to convert that into a song. I’m not trying to force myself upon the times that we’re in. I am going to do my thing regardless. I am going to make music. I am allowing the state of the world, the state of my relationship, the friends I have, I let that in, and I allow it to inform when I’m when I’m creating.