In early January a hip-hop artist known as Milo made a big splash in a small pond with the release of his double-ep ‘things that happen at day/things that happen at night’. Earning praise from widely varying demographics, his latest release was refreshing and relatable, referencing everything from Schopenhauer to Delta Force 3 over the top of lush atmospheric beats. Intellectually stimulating, cleverly comical and at times touching, I hadn’t heard anything quite like it. Recently I interviewed the man behind Milo himself,Chicago-born rapper Rory Ferreira and his girlfriend Amanda.
Sam: Would you be able to tell me a little bit about how you got started in the cut-throat
hip-hop business, and why?
Rory: I’m a young brown man in a culture that dictates my worth is going to probably come
from the entertainment industry, whether that be sports or music. While I was a
commendable defender a la Ben Wallace in junior high basketball, it was clear I didn’t have
a future in that. Music, rap in particular, offered a certain journalistic scope that I love(d).
When my friend Rob drowned in a public pool, right after my freshman year in college, I was
struggling to do something meaningful. Rap antics made themselves manifest. I just rode
Sam: I remembering reading somewhere you were majoring in philosophy. What are your
philosophical influences? What is your personal philosophy?
Rory: Xenophanes, Schopenhauer, Rorty, Nagel, Singer, Appiah. Schopenhauer has this
great aphorism, “the world is my idea.” I’d say, as of late, that’s been guiding me.
Sam: Do you feel that hip-hop is becoming a competition over who is the most aggressive,
or rich, or loudest? Do you feel that in your own way you are gently pulling the other
Rory: I’m sure anything in a consumeristic culture that thinks capitalism is cool becomes
highly competitive. That’s why hip hop flourishes in America to begin with.
There’s a line in the Tao Te Ching to the effect of the man of Zen does not compete and thus
no one can compete with him. That’s how I feel about rap. I think there has never been a
time of such tremendous rap talents, but that has little to do with what I’m doing.
Sam: I’m paraphrasing, but that line where you say you’re no longer after validation from
internet strangers – was that directed at music reviewers, or is it more general?
Rory: That line is about my life’s overarching theme – which seems to be an intense loyalty
and fascination with the internet, with the culture of being “cool” on the internet. It had
become an obsession with me, in games and forums etc. when I began rapping– it obviously
spread into this facet of my life as well.
I’m just not interested in external validation anymore.
Sam: What do you think about music reviewing as a thing? Do you feel you’re affected
much by criticism at all?
Rory: That genre of writing probably has a fatal flaw. That is, it is fundamentally
argumentative when music, in itself, is about communicating expression honestly. I’m just
not sure if I think the two are overly compatible.
When I released my second mixtape, there was a review in particular that, actually,
damaged me. It damaged my perception of myself. It took me several months to recover
from that. I recovered by realizing that the genre of writing, music reviewing, whatever you
call it has an Achilles’ heel. It attempts to boil down a tesseract into a 1 dimensional point–
and it cannot.
Sam: How do you feel about the reception to your latest album? Do you feel like there’s a
fair amount of people counting on you now?
Rory: I do, and that’s tremendous. We’re tribe-building now. We’re getting into a really fun and
cool aspect where this music is turning into something more interactive then I think the
listeners or myself anticipated.
Reading countless comments and messages, incorporating their narratives and ideas, I really
feel more like a spokesperson than anything else. Like, here is a grouping of people
traditionally neglected by almost all forms of music and now we’re banging on our drums
progressively louder and louder and folks are beginning to notice.
It’s very exciting.
Sam: Do you think you’ll be doing this rap thing for a while? Where would you like to be? If
you weren’t a rap artist, what would be your dream profession?
Rory: I want to write always. Poems, stories, songs. It seems worthwhile to dedicate myself
to creation in the ways that I have been fortunate enough to be granted with the faculties
for. For whatever reason the malleability of language is something that fascinates me and I
don’t see that ending any time soon.
I’m graduating soon, moving soon, etc. I’ve been paying my rent with rap money. However,
I love cooking. It might be time to get a nice day-job making eggs benny for old people at a
diner. I’m not sure yet.
Sam: I heard you’re working on a new album. What have you done so far? Do
you feel it’s going to be much different than the last?
Rory: I’m 3 songs deep. It’s produced by my dear friend Riley Lake. It is titled “Cavalcade.”
It’s about rebellion, hope, and the absurd. It is loud. It is celebratory dead person music, and
it terrifies me.
Next, Rory arranged for me to interview his girlfriend, Amanda, who gave me a unique
perspective on Milo’s music and Rory’s life.
Sam: What are you into?
Amanda: I like climbing trees and eating cookie dough ice cream. I adore teeny babies and
little puppies. Cinnamon candles are the goods.
Sam: How long have you known Rory, and how did you two meet?
Amanda: Since we go to a pretty tiny school, we knew who each other was for a while. We
came in close contact many times before we actually officially met. He was rapping at a
party I was at last year, he rapped at our school picnic, my Grandma gave me a newspaper
clipping of him because she noticed he went to the same school as I. Technically speaking,
we’ve really known each other for about 3 months. But really, I feel as if I have known him
forever. We met through a mutual friend; we watched Shawshank Redemption and sat four
people tight on a futon.
Sam: Is there any difference between the Rory you know and Milo? Basically, is he anything
like how he sounds on tape?
Amanda: Rory and Milo are identical twins. It’s obviously the same person, but there’s
something in Milo that I don’t get with Rory. Sometimes I listen to his songs and try to pick
them apart. Sometimes I feel as if his fans know him better than I do. There’s so much in his
songs and lyrics.. his passions, desires, hurts.. it’s in a very raw format that doesn’t always
come through with us as easily as it does through his music and writing.
Sam: Has your boyfriend’s music career impacted your day-to-day life?
Amanda: At first, I was going to answer ‘no’ to this question. However, the more I thought
about it, I think it has. It hasn’t impacted my day-to-day life in huge, earth shattering ways,
but in small ways it has. For instance: listening to new beats that get emailed to him, getting
pumped about good reviews, helping mail out a bajillion pre-orders. It’s pretty awesome.
Sam: Did you support this rap venture from the beginning? Where do you see him in the
Amanda: I wish that I had been there from the very beginning, where he would be driving
5 hours just for a show that would hardly even pay for gas. I wish that I had been there
sleeping on couches, floors, in the car. I support him in rap, absolutely. I would support him
in extreme ice sculpting if that’s what gave him fulfilment. (Luckily he settled for rap!)