Canadian singer-songwriter Rhye seems to have found the perfect balancing act between music and travel.
When Mike Milosh was 18 years old, he went on a three-month backpacking trip across Europe. Thanks to classic coming-of-age films like EuroTrip, it’s easy to dismiss this cliché rite of passage as superficial, but the Canadian singer-songwriter recalls his journey as a defining experience in which he grew exponentially as a person.
“I remember being at a train station in Paris during a train strike, not getting any help and having to figure things out for myself,” Milosh recalls. “At that moment, I realized, ‘wow, I’m really on my own.’ So there was a lot of personal development in these moments while travelling and in those moments you kind of just have to suck it up and work through it.”
His insatiable appetite for curiosity and experimentation followed him even as he embarked on his musical project, Rhye, years later. Alongside Danish producer Robin Hannibal, the duo marked their arrival on the scene with the expressive tracks “Open” and “The Fall” in 2012, and the following year launched their debut album Woman, a mosaic of emotive piano keys, physical percussion, buzzing analog synths and the fleeting vocals of Milosh himself.
Following the release, Milosh alone took the seductive and distant tone of Woman on the road to over 40 locations across the world, which included everything from standout festival sets at Coachella and Pitchfork to sold out venues with a highlight concert in Denmark accompanied by a 49-piece all-girls choir.
After a few years had passed, Milosh announced that he alone was working on Rhye’s sophomore album Blood. Recorded over a span of two years at studios in Los Angeles, Toronto, New York, Berlin and Sussex, the 11-track project built upon the sense of spaciousness, warmth and exploration as the first album. It marked a new musical experience for Rhye, followed by another international tour.
“I think what I’ve done is found a job that fits into the fact that I love to travel so much, and it’s really the perfect job for me.”
Through all of his moving live performances and time spent on the road, Milosh never forgets to enjoy the journey along the way. Not only does he find humanity in musicality, but he uses his art and talent as an enriching tool to discover, inspire and experience several places across the globe. “Travel is really about personal growth,” he explains. “This is something that I have carried throughout my whole life. I think what I’ve done is found a job that fits into the fact that I love to travel so much, and it’s really the perfect job for me.”
In fact, music and travel have become completely intertwined in Milosh’s life. Last year before hitting the road, he made it a point of emphasis to have a few extra days at the beginning and end of tours to visit new places. For Milosh, touring is more so an exercise in travel than sales. When promoting a new record, there’s always pressure on the artist to play as many cities as possible in a short period of time, but Milosh makes sure to squeeze his travels in, no matter how tight the deadlines may get.
When he was set to play a couple of shows in Japan, for example, Milosh decided to head a week early just to explore. “I went to a really cool fishing village that had these amazing hot springs,” he recalls. “We went there not realizing that it was going to be really Japanese, meaning there was no English at all and there was a little struggle not having anyone to translate, so it was a very humbling experience.”
In Japan, Milosh was moved by the pure immersion in a place that had a different way of life. “I love travelling because I love the inspiration I get, and the injection that comes with seeing different cultures and new places, just having these experiences,” he says. “Happiness is a longer state of being for me. It’s not just little bits and pieces of moments, or something tied to just one geographical location.”
The Toronto-bred artist has always felt a need to roam. After playing a show in Berlin, he decided to relocate there from Montreal in 2010, before the concept of Rhye was even conceived. He was drawn to the famed electronic music culture and wanted to take advantage of the central location that afforded easy travel within Europe. “I love dropping into a city without knowing anybody. It really forces you to be social and not be complacent because you will be really lonely so you have to go out and talk to people,” Milosh explains. “I think everyone should go out and experience this in their life, you can totally reinvent yourself. I believe it’s very important to do just that.”
To date, Milosh has actually lived in the U.S., Netherlands, Thailand, Germany and, of course, Canada. He’s currently based out of Los Angeles, although he points to Denmark as a place that’s at the top of his list of places to live.
When he’s touring, Milosh isn’t the biggest fan of planes and actually prefers to drive himself if possible. Until last year when he hired a touring manager, it was Milosh himself who drove the sprinter van from city to city. In Iceland, for example, he drove for 17 hours straight. “That was loads of fun because I took whatever routes I wanted and it was like having an adventure and just going with the flow. We came across things that we had no idea we would come across, like volcanoes,” he recalls. “I love that kind of adventure when it’s not really scripted and it’s really about discovery.”
He also gleefully dishes on the time he visited Taipei with his girlfriend and they ended up getting lost exploring ancient teahouses with the opportunity to experience traditional Taiwanese tea ceremonies. “It was a completely different kind of interaction than in Iceland where it’s barren and more about the landscape,” Milosh explains. “So Iceland was more a photographic trip for me, while Taiwan was more cultural.”
“One big thing that I think is really important is that people are less different than we think,” he continues. “The more you travel, the more you start to realize that everyone is kind of similar and thinks similarly. Not to take away from any cultural uniqueness of any one particular spot, but people want to be happy, they want to fall in love, they want to have kids, they want to enjoy the day, you know?”
With a clear sense of optimism about people and the world, Milosh continues to get lost and found in his artistic journey. Whether it’s his musical or personal growth, it’s the day-to-day that ignites that creative spark. “Weirdly, I’ve been a pretty happy person,” he says. “When I wake up, I’m generally quite happy, so for me, happiness is connected with my ability to be creative more than it is to be in a particular city or location.”
Interview Moe Topping. Words by Braeden Alexander. All Photos by Genevieve & Rhye.