Pop duo has shied away from the spotlight before the March release of their debut LP.
"Woman," the debut album from L.A.-based dream-pop duo Rhye (due March 5 via Loma Vista/Republic Records), consists of lush ballads arranged for piano, violin and synths, with Sade-inspired vocals so intimate it sounds as if lead singer Mike Milosh is whispering in your ear. And indeed, one of the first videos the band posted to its YouTube channel last year features the singer serenading his wife to the song "Open" in his living room, lit only by candlelight.
Milosh and electronic musician Robin Hannibal, who also makes up one-half of Danish indie-pop twosome Quadron, recorded the project over a year's worth of collaborations in Copenhagen (Hannibal's hometown) and Los Angeles, where the two have since relocated for the women in their respective lives who inspired the sensual, romantic songs on the album. "It's kind of our homage to women and also just women in general," Hannibal says. "You know, how amazing they are and what they make us do."
After completing the album in early 2012, the band stealthily released cinematic videos for "Open" and "The Fall" on YouTube, creating a groundswell of blog buzz from blogs like Pitchfork and, eventually, major-label interest. After months of meetings, the band settled on Polydor in the U.K. and Republic in the States. "There were some great labels that showed interest," says Dana Meyerson, a partner at Rhye's management firm, Biz 3, "but the decision to go with Polydor was based on their strong interest in sustaining the artistic integrity of the project."
That creative autonomy also extends to the band's unusual visual strategy - neither Milosh nor Hannibal is featured in any of the Rhye's videos or promotional material, and their first official photo only adds to the mystique. "We want people to create their own imagery and fantasies about what the music is," Hannibal says, "and not reduce it to being just the two faces of me and Mike."
Nevertheless, some of the mystery will fade when the band embarks on a North American tour this spring (booked by Billions) that kicks off at Los Angeles' Hollywood Forever Cemetery on April 1. "Obviously, you're gonna see the faces of Rhye – we're not going to wear any masks or anything," Hannibal says. It will also be a bit of a departure from the sound captured on "Woman." "We want to interpret the songs and make it a unique and new experience," Hannibal adds. "The thing with live is if you only try to make it sound like the way it is on the record, you almost set it up to fail. It's nearly impossible, and people end up mildly satisfied at best. We want to create a new experience, so hopefully that will happen."
Rhye isn't the only new music you'll like hear from Hannibal in 2013, however: Quadron is just wrapping up its second LP and first release for Sylvia Rhone's Vested in Culture, a recently announced joint venture with Epic Records.