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Rhye radiates an intimate atmosphere wherever he performs

Sensual and poetic lyricism. Vulnerable yet firm authenticity. The soundtrack to every sexual daydream you’ve ever had. 

These are just a few phrases that come to mind when hearing the opening bars of any song masterfully created by Rhye, aka Mike Milosh, who’s making his long-awaited return to Australia this coming March.

If you’re unfamiliar with Rhye’s music, allow us to paint a picture: a husky male falsetto meets top tier electronic production, and a deep bassline holds the whole project together. Honestly, you could play all of Blood, Rhye’s critically acclaimed 2018 sophomore album, in the backyard of a house party or on a long drive with your mum – like water, it seems to shift shapes, morphing into a perfect foundation upon which to build conversation or sit in comfortable silence.

Having been a staple of the soft-core R&B scene since the outfit’s formation in 2010, Rhye’s appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk – a crowning achievement for any band – was maneuvered into a uniquely audio-visual experience. Instead of the threadbare setting of most Tiny Desks – which some critics argue is the entire point of the series – Milosh found it important to “control the visual”; candles cover every surface, and low lighting sets an intimate atmosphere.

Though Milosh concedes that controlling each space to that same degree on the upcoming tour would be impossible, he believes the band will focus more heavily upon responding to each space – including the crowd.

“I don’t have the time or some of the resources to go in and set up everything, because we’re travelling and tour schedules are tight,” Milosh says. “But we’re going to try to keep it really simple, make it more about the music, and vibe off what the audience are feeling each night.

“Depending on the venue’s sound system, I decide whether to be more up and energetic, or a bit more quiet and intimate. I don’t do a full setlist, though; I call out the tunes on stage, which means the band has to know about two-and-a-half hours of music, and only ends up playing about one hours worth. I try to gauge it based on how the audience is responding to things,” he explains.

While Rhye’s electro-jazz, ambient-heavy tracks are a perfect soundtrack for most of life’s quieter moments, hitting up those slow tunes at a festival is not what springs to mind. However, Milosh attests that their Golden Plains Festival performance will be tailored to the atmosphere.

“I’m not a very hardcore type of person, I’m pretty chill,” he laughs. “So when bands have that really amped-up type of energy, I’m not trying to match or compete with that. I’m definitely doing my own thing. That being said, there are definitely moments in the set when people might be like, ‘woah, okay, it’s a little more up than I expected’.”

For longtime fans, this tour is a torturously long-awaited trip Down Under for Milosh; he was last in Melbourne in 2015, at a time where Rhye was duo, also featuring Robin Hannibal. Now, Milosh is armed with two LPs and arguably his greatest cult following. Though Milosh exudes confidence with regards to the routines of Rhye and the live band, he promises that a few new tricks are definitely up his sleeve.

“We’ll have seven musicians on stage, and we’ve played a lot before but it’ll be nice getting back into it. I’m also releasing an EP at the end of March, so we’re going to be playing a few of the new songs in Australia. 

“We’re keen to see how people respond to them, what everyone likes. It’s always exciting to try out new tracks in front of an attentive crowd; I think it’s the best formula for testing yourself and your music.”

Rhye comes to Melbourne Recital Centre on Wednesday March 6 and Thursday March 7. Grab your tickets via the venue website. He’ll also perform at Golden Plains (sold out) which comes to Meredith from Saturday March 9 to Monday March 11.