Although Mike Milosh has been putting out dreamy electronic music since 2004, it wasn’t until his mysterious collaboration with Robin Hannibal and the duo’s performance act as Rhye that charmed a larger audience. Rhye’s highly acclaimed album, Woman, exuded a mysteriousness that intrigued music lovers with wistful and emotional lyrics. After the Rhye project, Milosh continued his solo artistic endeavours by releasing another solo album, Jetlag, in 2013; a record inspired by all the travelling he did while performing with Rhye. Since then, he’s been performing a blend of Milosh and Rhye in various venues and is currently working on a new solo album that should be released by summer 2015.
During an interview with Novella, Milosh opened up about Rhye, his musical inspirations, Toronto’s music scene and an inside scoop about his new upcoming album. After getting a chance to talk to him, Milosh revealed his authentic passion and knowledge for music as well as his versatility and sincere love of various genres including 90s hip-hop, jazz, classical music, Pink Floyd and Autechre.
Hey! How was the tour?
It was good. I’m a little bit tired right now but it was good. It wasn’t very big. But we’re going to Mexico next week and visiting Mexico City and Guadalajara so we’re still doing it but I always do 3 or 4 shows then take a week off.
So your last album, Jetlag, I read was inspired by the crazy amount of travelling you were doing when performing with Rhye. I think it said you visited about 40 different cities when you were writing it?
It’s not just that. I was travelling a lot between Berlin and LA when I was making the Rhye records. So the last 5 years of my life have been nonstop travel and big flights like Berlin to LA. It’s a long flight and I did about 7 of them in 5 months. So it was just this constant, always in another time zone, never clicking back into the clock you get when you’re in your time zone for a long enough period. So I don’t know the exact amount of cities I reached at that point because I made the record overtime and I also made the record the same time as the Rhye record so I had to put it on hold contractually because I wasn’t allowed to release until after.
What can we expect from your next album? How is it different from Jetlag or is it still pretty fresh to reveal anything?
I’m about 3-4 songs in and I think the big difference is, because I’ve done 97 shows as Rhye, and I plan on doing more, but I plan on mixing my Milosh work and the Rhye stuff because it’s really fun to play it all. So I put 5 or 6 songs in the Rhye set, which are Milosh songs, and I think the way it’s evolving or influencing me is that elements of that live show are coming into the record so bringing in cello, violin or viola, some trombone or base clarinet. I’m trying to get into a church to do a real pipe organ for the recording of either the first or last song of the record; I can’t decide where I’m going to put it. But for that song, I kind of did a mock version of it so we’re trying to go into one of the churches that we played live at this past Friday because it has the nicest pipe organ and it sounds insane. It’s just so huge that I want to incorporate that stuff in my new music so that then those two worlds Rhye and Milosh kind of melt because I’m never going to make another Rhye record. So for me it’s now all about bringing in anything or something about the Rhye record and bringing it into the Milosh record and move forward that way.
Do you ever stay in contact with Robin Hannibal? Do you ask for his advice and feedback on some of your solo stuff? Or do you both just stick to your own stuff right now?
He’s such a busy guy and I’m so busy and I haven’t talked to him in over 3 years because he’s not a part of the live show…But I’m doing some collaborations if you want me to get into to that.
Yes, of course. Who are you collaborating with right now?
I’m doing collaborations with people but I don’t know if it’s going to be a part of the record. But this Saturday I’m working with Clams Casino and we’re working on a song. I’m doing a track with Nosaj Thing, an amazing electronic producer. There’s a couple of other collaborations that I’m in talks with people about and it’s just a matter of whether they’ll match the record so maybe they’ll just be singles that come out.
With all these collaborations I have to ask, what music has influenced you over the years with your music and writing?
It’s pretty broad. If I’m to say what inspires me sonically from a band perspective, I love old classical compositions. I love Pergolesi’s vocal work, Adagio for strings in G Minor by Albinon. I love a lot of Beethoven and fugues. I love listening to stuff that’s rich and dynamic even without vocals too because you can have such lows and highs with incorporating a 40 piece orchestra and then stripping down to just the organ like in the adagio. In electronic music, Aphex Twin and I am a huge Autechre fan but that totally surprises people. Tri Repetae [Autechre record] is super brilliant you kind of put it on and let it hit you. I love 90s hip hop CL Smooth, Souls of Mischief, a couple of Craig Mack tracks, Black Sheep and stuff like that and it’s a little more fun. I also love Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd. I think Pink Floyd had a huge influence on me.
Yeah, big time. They don’t stay to a format. They’re not thinking oh I have to do verse chorus verse chorus. When you listen to the track “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” from the Ummagumma record it’s the weirdest thing ever. There’s animal noises and a guy acting like he’s a pict which is a weird Scottish native tribe guy thing. I love the idea of never being locked to one thing. My biggest complaint about the Rhye record from a personal standpoint is that it’s very verse chorus verse chorus. Now I think that’s also why the record was able to transcend and more people could kind of understand it but I don’t always want to do just verse chorus because as a performer, it can get really uninspiring. So my live shows I totally delve into some weird areas with the tracks. Like ‘Open’ [single from Rhye record] is a 9-minute song now. It goes to all these places and to me it’s super important to do that and hopefully pull your audience with you and take them to some of those journeys. Not everyone is into it but…
Well it’s a change and it’s about being different, right. So is that something we can expect for the next album too, less verse chorus?
Yeah, not verse chorus per se but it’s a little more straight ahead on this record.
What’s your go-to album? Something that’s always iPod ready.
C.L Smooth & Pete Rock The Main Ingredient is always iPod ready. I always have Dntel’s whole catalogue ready to play especially when I’m comparing my music. I think his production is so good that I just want to be able to listen to it anytime. I really like listening to Lhasa’s first record because I do a lot of road trips and I’m on a bus the entire time. I love listening to her fire that she had inside of her. I always have Autechre on and ready to go. I have a collection of songs that my dad gave me that are all classical pieces ready to go.
What was your most memorable concert experience when you performed and viewed?
Performing, I have 3 tops and I’ll tell you why. One in LA last April I did the Walt Disney Hall. It’s unbelievably memorable because it’s probably the best room in the world to sing in. I also got the entire crowd, which is couple thousand people, to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to my wife, which was really cool. It’s just one of those career highlights, where I’m like that’s amazing I got the opportunity to do that. Massey Hall was my second most memorable and it’s because I grew up in Toronto and my parents’ first date was at Massey Hall. So it was really cool to play there and have my parents be there because they rarely get to see me sing live it was very cool to play for them and their friends and my friends since a lot of my friends don’t get to see me either. And it’s Massey Hall, which is a great venue and I’ve seen one of my favourite performers there. Also this Friday, when I played in L.A., it was absolutely phenomenal for me. We played in a Cathedral, which fits about 2000 people. It was sold out.
In terms of viewing I have to name you a couple. I saw Sigur Róse play at Massey hall and I didn’t know who they were yet. A friend of mine told me to check them out and I went and I saw them play and I was literally blown away by it. I could not believe how absolutely beautiful the night was, it was crazy. It just stuck with me because I’ve always wanted to achieve that level of emotions. I could feel my spine tingling to every song. It was amazing. I saw Ahmad Jamal play a set at the top of the senator in Toronto, a tiny jazz club that’s no longer there I think, and only about 25 people showed up and Ahmad Jamal played this music, he’s an amazing jazz pianist. I was literally crying watching it just because everything was hitting me. He came up to me after and bought me a drink and hung out with me. I think he just loved the fact that I was 18 or 19 at the time and he loved a young person loving his music. I had the exact same experience with Lani Smith. Lani Smith did an organ performance on Hammond B-3 at the top of the Senator and bought my friends a drink half way through the show and came out and talked to us. He offered me a Hammond B-3 organ for free, which was super nice for this guy to give me a $5000 organ for no reason. Everything about it was so perfect because he’s such a talented musician.
Would you ever do that for a fan now too?
Yeah I try to do little things all the time. Actually I did a really cool show with my good friend Paul Fixture in Ireland where we played 2 shows back to back in a hotel room and we just had about 25 people on the bed and I sang to them in the bedroom and it was amazing; it’s wasn’t about glory, it’s connection. I’m trying to set up a show where we get a house and I want to invite people to come to a living room performance. It’s cool to play a 2000 person venue, it’s almost transcendental but also if you can play for a couple of people or small crowd it can be amazing as well, it’s just harder to pull off financially because of obvious reasons.
Who would you love to collaborate?
Thom Yorke [Radio Head] for sure. I’d like to collaborate with Björk as well. Those would be my 2 top choices right now including the people I’m already collaborating with. They’ve obviously influenced me so it’d be really amazing.
Where do you go in Toronto to scope out the music scene? I know Massey Hall is one of them.
Because I grew up there, some of the places I’d scope out don’t exist anymore. I used to go to the We’ave, across from the AGO but it doesn’t exist anymore. I used to love the top of the Senator it was such an amazing place inside. After that, I’d love to see a show at The Great Hall. I played there too and really liked it so I’d love to see it from the audience perspective. And I’ve seen a bunch of shows at the Government way back when.
What would be your theme song?
It’d be the whole Garbage EP that Autechre put out from beginning to end.
Fill in the blank. I can’t live without_____.
Love and music.
What’s next for you now? You’re going to Mexico at the end of the month to continue the tour there.
Yeah I’m doing a little tour there and spend some time there as well. Chilling out for a little bit then I’m coming back here [L.A.] and working on music for the next couple of months. I also own a printing company that’s based in Toronto so I’ll be flying back and fourth between Toronto and LA. I kind of do some prints for photographers and I do all of my own posters so I want to do them for other bands and teach them how to make some money with merchandise. I have a buddy, Paul who played with me in Ireland, his band has a farm in Orangeville and he’s going to build a recording studio so I’m going to go there and record some music.
It’s always nice to get away from the hectic city life.
I like being removed from that hum that’s in the city.
Are you playing in Toronto anytime soon?
So because I’m working on this record, I don’t know what it’s going to be called, right now it has a lot to do with this situation where me and my friend got surrounded by a pack of 6 wolves in Orangeville; they wanted to kill us. So it really affected me so one of the songs is called 6 wolves. So I want to do something in Toronto before the album comes out but I want to maybe play a bunch of new material. I’ve been talking to, I don’t know if I’m really supposed to say anything, but I’ve been talking to some people trying to do something really special in Toronto. Something really sweet, not huge, a little bit smaller but really really special. It’d probably be around April hopefully before the record comes out so I can start kind of testing new songs live and I want my parents to be there.
So the new album should be released sometime after April then? Is that the date you’re gearing towards?
Yeah, I’d like for it to be finished by March in terms of everything I’ve done, in terms of recording. It then takes a long time to set up. That’s the reality especially in this climate now where there’s so much stuff out there. It takes 6 months to really set up an album so you can release it and people know it exists, it’s hard. So it’s probably going to be released early summer I think.
Anything else you want our readers to know about?
Okay this is going to get political for a second. People should think about supporting the music that they like more. I’m totally on board with the whole Taylor Swift rejecting Spotify. I had a huge fight with Spotify. I tried to pull my records off and I think they’re the most corrupt business model and people should start realizing that capitalism in music is very dangerous because there’s usually a very small group of people that are taking advantage of a whole bunch of artists and figuring how to make money off of them. The artists with Spotify have been completely relegated to this appendix over here and the labels and Spotify are making a lot of money and the artists are making next to no money. I just think people should start to become conscientious of what is the world they want to have. Do they want to live in a world where you can’t continue to make art because there’s no financial sustainability in it and if you’re an artist yourself you should try to feed that industry in a positive way rather than sucking from it like a parasite. I want to leave readers with the idea of questioning things. What world do we want to live in? Do we want to invade countries and kill people? Do we want to be burning oil? Do we want to be stealing from artists? At what cost? Like it all comes together on how we want to create our world by the decisions that we make. I just released this song when ‘Right Never Comes’ and the lyric is, “We’re building worlds with our minds now we get to live in it”. I just want people to think about what is the world you want to live in because you do create it.