On the Record: Q&A With Rhye

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.