Rhye Puts Down Roots on New Album Home

Rhye's Michael Milosh Courtesy of Rhye

Singer Michael Milosh, 45, the driving force behind the alternative R&B collective Rhye, describes himself as a perpetual motion machine. In addition to writing, recording and touring, Milosh is involved in conceiving, directing and producing the group's videos and photographing their album cover art.

"I don't want to do one thing," the Canadian musician tells Newsweek. "There was a point when I was touring, I was driving the bus myself. I feel more energy from not being passive. I love all the stuff that I'm doing."

Milosh's restless spirit accounts for the nomadic life he's led, having spent time in Montreal, Berlin, Thailand and Los Angeles. These days, however, he has settled in Topanga, California, where he and Genevieve Medow-Jenkins, his romantic partner and artistic collaborator, purchased a house last year. So it is fitting that Rhye's new record is called Home (due out on January 22).

Home has all the hallmarks of Rhye's previous three studio albums: Milosh's soulful and sensual countertenor, his yearning lyrics and exquisitely produced and calming soundscapes. Home's meticulous sound borders on R&B, dance and art pop "The desire to play live has informed a lot of this record," Milosh says, "because it's a little bit more upbeat in a lot of places. I want to inspire people to dance as well as have introspective, melancholic moments."

Home is a lush collection of introspective songs, such as "Need a Lover," "Fire" and "Helpless." Of the last track Milosh says, " Alot of what I've been doing musically and emotionally is letting things happen and letting them out. It's obviously a song about Genevieve, but it's also the totality of the concept of just allowing yourself to feel that helplessness in a good way."

The hypnotic, rhythmic "Beautiful" is the most straight ahead song on the new record, according to Milosh. "It's just literally saying to Genevieve that she's beautiful," he says "We bought a house together, which is a big deal. It's been very beautiful because we bought a house specifically with the intention to be hyper-creative there. It's just been a savior for us to have a place with space that we can be outside."

Meanwhile, "Come in Closer" provides a hopeful message that seems quite appropriate now, something that Milosh couldn't have predicted when he was making the record. "The weird thing is all of my records have done that. I've had a song created and six to eight months later, something happens. I'm like, 'Oh my God, the song is truly about that particular thing.' 'Come in Closer' is really important...in essence giving someone a hug and saying: 'Come in closer, I got you.' And hopefully it's reciprocated."

"Black Rain" has an uptempo disco-rock feel that contrasts with some of Home's more subdued tracks; Milosh likens it to an '80s Quincy Jones production. Lyrically, he says, the song was a reaction to the California wildfires. "There was this moment where there was this black ash that was just falling on our property. It was really scary because you don't wanna breathe that in. I tried to have fun with 'Black Rain' because I don't want to be scared in life. I love the idea of saying: 'There is all this crazy stuff going on right now, but we need to persevere and dance our way through things.' I'm not saying turn a blind eye, but take the challenges head on and convert fear into something positive."

Like the other Rhye records, Home draws on classical music, especially in its use of strings. Milosh's musical training dates back to learning the cello at age three. "I think there's a deep seed in me that's classical," he says." I love the way classical melodies are constructed, a lot of Baroque and chamber music in particular. I love Gregorian chants and my favorite composer might be Pergolesi, who was famous for writing for castrati. What I'm doing is I'm taking from those genres and I'm mixing them with elements of R&B, electronic and classic rock."

Milosh, who hails from Toronto, initially went to college to study jazz drumming but dropped out. When he embarked on an electronic music career under his own name, singing was an afterthought. "You can hear how shy I am and withdrawn I am with the vocals," he says of the first Milosh record, 2004's You Make Me Feel. "There was a crossover moment: I started playing a lot of Milosh shows live in 2008...I just kind of succumbed to it. I was like, 'All these people are here, I should just sing.' It was really improvisational. And it was amazing for me because I was like, 'Oh my God, my voice is the thing that connects me to people.'"

"Then there was a period where I just stopped making Milosh music," he adds, "and I lived in Berlin. I kind of reacted negatively to the electronic music world and started the Rhye project [in 2010], which is all about vocals and strings. It's stepping away from electronics and hyper-production."

When Rhye (which originally began as a collaboration between Milosh and Danish producer Robin Hannibal) first shared their music on the internet in 2012, they generated much buzz and speculation. At the time, they didn't release names or photos of the band's members. Critics first assumed Rhye's singer was a woman. The reason for the band's anonymity was an unflattering online comment about a photograph of Milosh.

"I decided I didn't want any photographs of me," he remembers. "I just thought, 'You should hear the music. You shouldn't care what I look like.' It wasn't coming from an intellectual experiment, it's me being insecure. What happened was then suddenly it became this weird thing, like 'Who is Rhye?' And people kind of ran with that."

"Slowly over time, I was like, 'This is stupid. You're coming to my shows, you see what I look like.' We're playing festivals, and there are cameras on my face. As you get bigger and bigger audiences, you have to let go of that. We played at the Hollywood Bowl, and my face is on two huge screens. I can't be insecure at that point."

Between now and when Rhye can resume touring, don't expect Milosh to be twiddling his thumbs at home. At this moment, amid the backdrop of Topanga's natural surroundings, you may find him working on new music, shooting another video or collaborating on a project with Medow-Jenkins. "You get this body of work that in its totality is not just music," says Milosh about his wide-ranging creative endeavors. "I like the idea of not being passive. I don't want to sit down and just watch something, I like to be involved, and I like to kind of draw people in somehow and get them involved as well."

Suggested Listening

Woman (2013, Polydor) Rhye first began as the duo of Michael Milosh and producer Robin Hannibal in 2010. Their major label debut Woman introduced the world to Milosh's airy, seductive crooning and sophisticated mix of pop, electronica and R&B; its standout songs included "Open," "The Fall," "3 Days" and "One of Those Summer Days."

Blood (2018, Loma Vista Recordings) It would take another five years before Rhye released their sophomore album Blood. During this period Hannibal left the collective and Milosh hooked up with indie label Loma Vista after departing from Polydor. Despite the behind-the-scenes drama, Blood seamlessly picked up where Woman left off, sounding more delicate, rhythmic and lush via the disco-inflected "Taste," the tender and jazzy "Song for You," and the burning slow jam "Stay Safe."

Spirit (2019, Loma Vista Recordings) Rhye's third album was recorded following a period of touring. Piano comes to the fore on the hymn-like instrumental "Malibu Nights," the quiet and lush "Patience" and the stark closer "Save Me." Milosh recalls, "Spirit was a reaction to being exhausted. I came back to L.A., and I actually just wrote a very peaceful, gentle record."