When Rhye, the down-tempo indie R&B outfit featuring satin-voiced singer Milosh, visited Miami for the first time, the crowd at the North Beach Bandshell not only welcomed the group with open arms but also allowed the quiet moments of the concert to happen organically. Mercifully, no one ruined the mood with a hoot, a holler, or any other ratchet nonsense.
This Thursday, February 22, Rhye will return to kick off the U.S. portion of its tour at Miami’s the Ground. Earlier this month, the group released its sophomore effort, Blood, an earthy, soulful, and richly layered record.
In a phone interview with New Times, the heart of Rhye, Milosh, is as gentle and thoughtful as any of his songs. He begins by discussing his initial introduction to Miami and couldn’t be more complimentary.
“I try not to have expectations going into a show because it’s a better way to go,” he says. “I had never been to Miami before. I didn’t know if people were going to come. I didn’t know what the fan base was like. I found the show to be really fun."
What really struck him, he says, was the welcome he received from locals. "After the concert, I was talking to a bunch of people who came to the show who were extremely emotional in a really amazing way. That shows how important it is for music to bring people together, particularly at that show, because there were a lot of people breaking down the walls between ethnicities. I was really struck by people’s warmth.
"It was a really scary time," he adds, "because of the whole Trump thing.”
In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. election, a flurry of American voices vowed to run north of the border to Milosh’s native Canada. He laughs when the subject is mentioned but quickly becomes sympathetic.
“I kind of agree with them,” he says. “The States are in a politically fractured time. This weird movement towards right-wing mentality is shocking, although it’s expected because the political swing always goes back and forth. It’s unfortunate that we’re not having it settle in an appreciative middle zone.
“One of the things I love about traveling,” he continues, “is you find that there are some pretty decent people around the planet. It’s more media and politics that fuel things. Generally speaking, people are after the same things in life, which are usually love, being loved, having a family, eating good food, to have nice experiences. There aren’t that many sinister people in the world. It’s just the people who are drawn to powerful positions.”
The beauty of Rhye's latest release offers a salve for the terror of American politics. On Blood, Milosh is eager to point out, there aren’t nearly as many electronic tricks as he has used in the past under his solo moniker. "This Rhye record is a very live-sounding record,” he says, a notion augmented by the fact that Milosh played drums on nearly every song.
Among its best tracks is “Phoenix,” a funkier standout that almost didn’t make the cut.
“I actually thought that putting ‘Phoenix’ on the record was a risk. I did that one with no collaborators; I did that on my own," Milosh explains. "And when I was doing that, it was very much coming from a place of nostalgia. It was like music that I was so connected to when I was 17 and 18. So I put it in.”
The cover of the record shows the curvaceous backside of model Geneviève Medow Jenkins, who is not only Milosh’s girlfriend but also his muse, even when things get rocky.
“'Please’ is very specifically about us getting in a little tiff while we were flying to New York,” Milosh says. “I was kind of being a jerk. When I got off the plane, I met up with Thomas Bartlett to work in the studio and I was just like, I have to be doing this.
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“It’s basically an apology for being mean,” he continues, laughing, “for being a dick.”
Did she accept his apology?
“I think so. I hope so.”