Exclusive Video Premiere and Interview: ‘Deal Me Briefly,’ Rainy Milo

For her first two covers, Rainy Milo flipped through the catalogue of 1970s rock. She settled on the Clash’s “Bankrobber” and Steve Harley & The Cockney Rebel’s “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me).” It’s an odd place for a 17-year-old R&B singer to start, and Milo tells us it was never intentional, but it worked. Listening to the London teenager’s grainy, soulful, reggae-influenced takes, you would never know that the lyrics were written by someone else—a man—40-odd years ago.

Rainy Milo put out her first song, “‘Bout You,” when she was just 15. Two years later, Milo has released an EP,
Limey, and collaborated with Aussie producer Chet Faker. A debut album is, of course, in the works. The transition from teenage bedroom musician to Internet pop sensation is no longer a novel one. There is, however, generally a reason it happens and Limey is a pretty good reason.

AGE: 17

HOMETOWN: South East London

STYLE OF MUSIC: Kind of new-age R&B with a blend of loads of other things. Nothing by itself is original anymore, but if you mix things up you can create your own original mix of things. 

FIRST CD PURCHASE: I think it was Eve’s, “Blow Your Mind” with Gwen Stefani, and Britney Spears’s “I’m a Slave for You.” 

Seeing Sounds, N.E.R.D In Search of, Amy Winehouse Frank, Corinne Bailey Rae Corinne Bailey Rae, Miguel Kaleidoscope Dreams—I think that’s going to inspire me when I go into the studio again.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Everybody has a love of music, but they’re not really musicians. My granddad was a reggae DJ—still is, actually. He keeps begging me to let him make reggae remixes of my tracks and I’m just like, “No, just leave them alone for now.”

COVER GIRL: My mum was into Steve Harley and the Cockney Rebels.  For “Bankrobber,” I heard the track in a film. [I look for] something that’s completely different from what I do so that I can turn it around and put myself into it—there is just no point in doing the cover if you’re going to do it exactly the same. The original song is there for that. 

“DEAL ME BRIEFLY”: is a reference to people who—when they’re with you or talking to you—rush through the conversation and then they’re gone. It’s written from the place of how somebody feels when somebody is kind of rushing being friends with them or being in a relationship with them. Just how unfair it feels to be dealt with so quickly. 

SONGWRITING AND SELF-HELP: Are my songs personal? They’re mostly from real life things that I’ve gone through because for me, writing songs is quite therapeutic. I write for self-healing; once I’ve written about something, it gives me closure. I never really write thinking about an audience.   

THE PROCESS: I usually travel into central London on the weekends, so I’m sitting on trains a lot. I write two lines in my phone, then I’ll leave it alone. Then I’ll hit someone up about sending me a track and I’ll be like, “Oh! This track reminds me of those two lyrics that I wrote a couple months ago!” I’ll pull them out and I’ll carry on writing from there. It starts with two lines, find a track, and then carry on.   

THE R&B REVIVAL: I am so excited about R&B. In my opinion, for the last couple years it took a turn for the worse. Some people might love how it went into that sort of dance vibe, but I felt like it lost what R&B was. Now when people like Miguel coming out with fresh takes on R&B, I’m excited for it.

EMPLOYING YOUR PARENTS: My dad is now my tour bus driver. We weren’t close because he wasn’t around a lot when I was little, so to have him there now is cool—we are sort of becoming friends again. It is nice to have somebody there who has good intentions for you, as well. Not just somebody who has to just be there because they’re working for me.

FRIENDS: It’s kind of hard for me because all my friends are still in school. During the week, if I’m not doing anything I’m sort of stuck. I [realized], “Oh my goodness, I have absolutely no idea how to make friends!” So I’m trying to work on that now. 

IN ANOTHER LIFE: I think it would be fun to be a dolphin because I can’t swim. If somebody put me in the deep end, that would be me toasted.