A lot has changed for Mike Milosh in the five years since he released a debut album of seductive, soul songs under the Rhye moniker.
His musical partner, Danish producer Robin Hannibal, is no longer part of the duo, making Milosh the sole face of the band. His million-dollar contract with Polydor Records went south, and Milosh spent a year buying himself out of that contract. He separated from his wife, Alexa Nikolas, whose body was literally on the cover of that debut Rhye album, Woman. Now, with his 2018 sophomore release Blood, Milosh’s girlfriend, Genevieve Medow Jenkins, is front and centre — also literally — on the similarly artfully shot cover.
“My whole life is different,” he says over the phone, while driving between Boston and New York City. While Milosh, who spent a few years studying in Montreal pre-Rhye, lives in L.A. full-time now, he is on tour again, having released Blood on Feb. 2. The album was written mainly on the road while logging nearly 500 shows in support of Woman, and Milosh says he’s aiming to keep this tour significantly shorter so that he can release a third Rhye album within two years.
While the trained cellist has been endlessly compared to soul powerhouse Sade — “People have been saying that to me my entire career, even when I had my [solo] Milosh record,” he notes — Milosh says he’s not a “diehard fan” and instead sees his music as coming from a classical background more than anything rooted in soul.
“I get the same sensation in my own music that I get from more classical compositions where it's not as rushed,” he explains. “You know that whole saying, 'Don't bore us, get us to the chorus?’ I don't really believe in that, you know? I'm actually the opposite. I think anything that's a bit more intellectual you have to give people time to drop in and set a tone and allow a world to be created by not rushing things into chorus.”
So we asked Milosh: if nothing by Sade, then what songs have changed his life? Below, the four songs that have influenced Rhye most.
Adagio for Strings in G minor, Albinoni
"I think the biggest influence I've ever had would be Adagio for Strings in G minor by Albinoni, the classical composition. That's the first time I ever heard a song where I literally just became incredibly sad. I remember crying as a kid listening to it but not because anything in my life was sad; it's just the music is so sad, and so beautiful that it makes you feel this overwhelming sensation of just — it's a type of sadness that's not rooted in anything tragic. It's almost like pure catharsis, you know? That was an incredible moment. I think I've always [worked to have that] in my own compositions."
‘Who Knows,’ Band of Gypsys
"Jimi Hendrix playing guitar. I heard it when I was really young and it was really inspiring. I always kind of aspired to have that kind of energy in song and so it's a record I always come back to. If you can capture anything remotely like that, then you're doing something right. Particularly in a live environment, because I do love that the live world can exist separately from the recording world. They don’t have to be one and the same."
‘I Can't go for That (No Can Do),’ Hall & Oates
"I remember hearing it on the radio with my mom, and us dancing in the car to it. I was really young, obviously. Something so joyous about a song that just makes you feel like, whoever you're with, you just kind of know you want to be just down with it. And that's a really powerful moment for a young person to have. That kind of beauty and that glory and that happiness in song influences you."
Stabat Mater, Pergolesi
"From a vocal perspective, Pergolesi's Stabat Mater was a huge influence because I just loved the use of voice — it was originally written for a male voice but it's sung by women on any recording that you'd find now.... There's just a type of beauty and calm in the note selection that, I don't know, it kind of hasn't been matched by anybody in the last couple hundred years."