Discovery: Rhye

Published March 21, 2012

Rhye’s rise to eminence has been an exciting, mystifying journey thus far. Those who already know the electronic duo are likely acquainted with their song “Open,” a tantalizing track that boasts perfectly prurient lyrics channeled through a soft spoken, Sade-esque coo, along with calm, cadenced production that may call to mind a more contented, funkified The xx. Beyond a subsequent, NSFW video that features an evolving stream of couples in bed with one another (à la Michael Jackson’s legendary “Black and White” clip) and a recently released EP featuring two more enticing cuts and their respective instrumentals, not much is known about one of 2012’s most exciting musical prospects. Interview spoke to one member of the band (which one remains unknown) in an effort to uncover its origins; the making of the song that put Rhye on the digital map; and what their next move may be.

THE BEGINNING: The two of us had been fond of each other’s work for some time, and one of us was working on a remix for the other. We had gotten to talking about the remix, which led us to the conclusion that maybe we should adapt it into a whole new song that we could do together. We had never met in person, so one of us gave the other a metro station to meet him at, one of us flew in, and we got straight to working on the track. We ended up coming up with three songs—three songs that are all on the full-length—and really enjoyed working together. We just clicked. Both of our styles of producing/writing completely compliment each other, and everything just flowed effortlessly. One of us moved to L.A., and the other just happened to be coming out to shoot a music video. We met up with Jamie and Nate from [record label] Innovative Leisure and showed them the songs, and they expressed interest in working on this as a full-length. It just felt right to work with them, as they are really great guys, and they really helped put this whole thing together and see it through.

THE SECRECY OF RHYE: Actually, the “mystery,” so to speak, is not the intention at all, to be honest. We have never really hid our identities; we just haven’t come out right and stated our names in press. The intention behind that is, however, rooted in the fact that we just want people to have their own experience with the music we have created, with no real preconceived notions. We have always thought that music should speak for itself—its success shouldn’t be the result of an attitude projected by the artist. As for liking the mystery, I am completely fine with how it’s all coming out. Actually, I kind of like it—it feels much more humble and true to the music we have created. I have never been into making music for the glory or fame, so this is perfectly fitting for us.

THE MAKING OF “OPEN”: All the songs we have created for this record come from very real and tangible experiences that I have had. “Open” is the result of a beautiful night with my now-wife. Actually, much of the record kinda follows that methodology: Having experiences in the evening, and then dedicating to the day in the studio, working off of that energy. The feelings and emotions really dictate where these songs ended up—we just let them unfold. In terms of deciding on it to be the lead single, it’s just simply that we had “Open,” “Hunger,” and “3 Days” finalized, where as we needed more time for the other songs on the record. “Open” just felt right to lead with—there wasn’t any overtly intellectual reason for putting that track forward. The video came about by looking at a bunch of treatments. Jennifer Nies’ treatment just really seemed to match what we were trying to encapsulate with the song, and we loved that it came from a feminine perspective and had a little attitude in it. It felt very sincere.

FIRST MUSICAL MEMORY: My first musical memory is definitely watching my dad play—he’s a violinist. Music has always been part of my life. I can’t remember a time in my life before music, to be honest. My parents put me into cello lessons when I was three years old. As for inspiration, I think I just wanted to be able to do what my father can do.

COLLABORATIVE PROCESS: We work on everything together—we don’t work on things separately. It just sits better, being there together, working through the recording process. We both play the instruments on the record, taking turns with different things, except for some featured players. The melodies just come naturally between the two of us, and the sound is essentially a hybrid between our two styles. I hear both of us in these tracks—it’s a very nice marriage.

WHAT’S NEXT: Well, I am guessing some more official videos from the EP, a bunch of virals of us playing with different musicians that we respect and admire, and then our full-length, which is just being mastered at the moment.