Rhye – Our New Favourite Band
Round at the BEAT bunker we listen to a lot of music, and sometimes things get really earwormy and you can’t listen to them enough. When the above track (The Fall) from Rhye hit our screens, we literally couldn’t get enough of it. It was the aural chocolate cake to my Mamma Cass. Or something. Anyhoo, Rhye are seemingly super elusive, but we lured the duo – Mike and Robin – out of hiding just long enough to answer some questions.
Hi Rhye. There’s not a lot about you on the internet, is there? You are from LA but one of you is from Berlin, but you met in Copenhagen or Berlin or LA and one of you is from somewhere else and you met somewhere else? Can you clarify, who actually are you, where and how did you meet, and how the ball got rolling?
Rhye: I (Mike) was born in Toronto Canada, but I’ve been moving around for quite some time. Robin is from Copenhagen and when we originally starting working together I was living in Berlin, so a hop skip and a jump away from one another. We met as label mates while on a little label from L.A. and I was working on a remix for Robin’s group, Quadron. I had thrown vocals over the track, he sent back a new re-worked version with those vocals that was essentially a new song. We decided to meet up in Copenhagen and continue working on the track for the week, next thing we knew we had three songs. We didn’t get to work on the record any further until we met up again in L.A. Innovative Leisure got in touch with us and we all just agreed to turn it into a record so we recorded the rest of it in L.A. It all just kind of flowed together.
How long have you been around?
Rhye: Around? Well, we released an EP last Feb with Innovative Leisure so I guess we have been around so to speak since Feb of last year. It took about a year to do the record.
A lot of people are going to say Sade, but I also hear KD Lang (never a bad thing) – thoughts?
Rhye: KD Lang? Hmm… nothing against KD Lang but I don’t hear it. I don’t personally think I sound like anyone, I just do what I do.
OK…. We love the narrative of the video for The Fall. Is it you guys in the video? How did it come about?
Rhye: No, the video was shot with actors from Denmark (the director’s native land), we are super happy with their performances! Daniel, the director of the video, is good friends with Robin so it was a natural fit. We loved his work up to date so we were very excited to work on this with him. As for the video materialising, there were discussions as to what the song was actually about and Daniel just kinda ran with that and made it his own.
We are obsessed with the sad old disco-ness of some of your songs, but that funk of Hunger is mindblowing. Talk me through your music, what are your inspirations and how does it come together in production?
Rhye: Well we both really like African-American music genres in all shapes- funk, disco, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Blues. But we also grew up listening to a lot of other styles and genres of music. So It’s our version of all those influences. For Hunger the idea was to add some disco and funk elements, but make a very emotional song on top of that platform. There are some no-wave references, David Bowie and Blondie in there too.
How important is image to you? I don’t know what you look like but I can tell that you are aesthetes by your excellent art work, which is a bit mysterious.
Rhye: We just want the artwork to be congruent with the feeling of the record, it’s not so much about image as it is being consistent with the music. The intention is not to be mysterious, it’s just that we haven’t been super fourth coming with traditional press shots. We just want people to have their own experience with the actual music.
Fair enough. So why are you so good?
Rhye: I’m not sure I know how to answer that exactly but we appreciate the compliment. We are trying…
You have an album coming out, what was it like making it? Where did you record it and who did you work with?
Rhye: Robin and I wrote all the songs together and recorded the remainder of the record in L.A.. A huge advantage of being in L.A. is we found some amazing musicians to come out and play parts that we couldn’t do ourselves, like the strings, horns, guitar, bass and harp. There is an unbelievable pool of talented musicians here. As for making it, it was pretty effortless. Robin and I work very well together- we just meet up, start working on a track and just keep going until it’s finished. I was flying back and fourth between L.A. and Berlin during the making of the record, the actual flights were the only tiring or arduous part of the process.
That’s good. Is there anything else?
Rhye: I guess just that we sincerely just hope we get the chance to have people hear the record now. It takes a lot to put out an album now, cut through all of the music that is out there. We feel very lucky to be able to work with the people we have been given the opportunity to work with in terms of putting this thing out.