Ground­break­ing mu­sic of Rhye in­spired by city ravines

Toronto’s Mike Milosh brings ac­claimed mu­sic to Massey Hall on March 5

Village Post - - Currents - by Ron John­son

Mike Milosh, who per­forms un­der the moniker Rhye, came to promi­nence with the re­lease of his de­but al­bum Woman in 2013, be­com­ing some­thing of a global phe­nom­e­non, play­ing fes­ti­vals, such as Coachella, and hit­ting the mu­sic charts in coun­tries around the world.

Rhye has en­joyed in­ter­na­tional ac­claim with his care­fully crafted and se­duc­tive R & B sound and hyp­notic vo­cals. One might be sur­prised to learn that his in­spi­ra­tion comes from the sim­plic­ity of na­ture, an ap­pre­ci­a­tion he de­vel­oped in the ravines of Toronto.

When Milosh was grow­ing up, he spent a lot of time in and around the for­est and creek sys­tem that snakes through the city, es­pe­cially near his Bayview and York Mills home.

If it wasn’t late-night skate­board­ing ses­sions, it was long moun­tain bike rides ex­plor­ing ev­ery nook and cranny of the Don Val­ley. It’s no won­der trees con­tinue to be a source of en­ergy and in­spi­ra­tion for him.

“Grow­ing up in that en­vi­ron­ment, I got a lot of so­lace from be­ing around trees,” he says, on the phone from his home in Los An­ge­les, Calif. “Even when peo­ple ask me about my favourite mu­sic, I’m so tempted to say trees. I love sit­ting in a for­est and lis­ten­ing to the leaves be­cause it makes me feel so calm.”

Milosh might have spent years tour­ing the globe and play­ing nearly 500 shows since Rhye’s de­but re­lease Woman in 2013, but his idea of suc­cess is dif­fer­ent than most. “If my mu­sic can do the same thing trees can do, that’s a suc­cess,” he says.

Milosh was im­mersed in the arts from an early age, at­tend­ing Claude Watson School for the Arts fol­lowed by Earl Haig and Con­cor­dia Univer­sity for jazz and elec­tric acous­tic. Maybe a life ded­i­cated to mu­sic was too much back then, since burnout set in, and he took a break to work on other projects.

In a unique twist of events, the fa­ther of one of his friends, who hap­pened to live on the Bri­dle Path, got “kicked out of the coun­try for tax eva­sion or some­thing.” This par­tic­u­lar home, which his friend now had to him­self, was kit­ted out with its own stu­dio.

For six years, the fel­las spent ev­ery Fri­day and Satur­day night jam­ming, and Milosh rekin­dled his love of mu­sic.

The record­ings even­tu­ally made their way into the right hands, and his ca­reer in mu­sic was hatched. But ex­pec­ta­tions were low, and his en­thu­si­asm was tem­pered by the re­al­ties of the in­dus­try.

“I just kept go­ing, and it was dif­fi­cult at first,” he says. “It’s not like it took off right away and made lots of money. You def­i­nitely have to come to terms with the fact that you’re go­ing to be very poor for a long time.”

Per­haps that’s what sets Milosh apart. Al­though Rhye is a very per­sonal project, and his songs all come from his own ex­pe­ri­ences, he’s man­aged to avoid the spotlight and not fall into the celebrity trap.

“I’m re­ally grossed out by things that feel like a prod­uct,” ex­plains Milosh. It’s not that he is re­bel­lious by na­ture. He is sim­ply search­ing for au­then­tic­ity.

On March 5, Rhye plays Massey Hall on the heels of his new al­bum, Blood. It’s a place that holds spe­cial mean­ing to Milosh be­cause of his own his­tory of watch­ing con­certs at the ven­er­a­ble old hall, but also for per­sonal rea­sons.

“My par­ents had their first date at Massey Hall,” he says. “It’s a spe­cial en­vi­ron­ment.”

Mike Milosh at­tended Toronto arts schools Claude Watson and Earl Haig

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