Using computers and a boyish sense of mischief, Milo creates space age bachelor pad rap songs for kids who think Spock > Kirk. Or for the kids who even catch that reference. He’s been called the champion of Nerd Hop, consistent creator of auditory Art Rap, we’re not concerned with the genre, we just admire the work he’s putting out there. Art Nouveau recently caught up with the 20-year-old emcee for a riveting conversation that covered everything from Nas’ Illmatic, his admiration for Schopenhauer and his upcoming project Milo Takes Baths.
Art Nouveau Magazine: You’re currently based in Wisconsin, How’d you end up there? What’s the indie rap scene like there?
Milo: As a kid, my Pops moved around a lot– my parents are divorced, so I’ve lived in Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, and finally Wisconsin. The indie rap scene here is nonexistent and of course when I go on record with that statement I will receive a barrage of dudes ready to impale me, but it’s the truth. The scene here is pretty static, and it seems like the same set of dudes have a monopoly on what goes on here. That being said, I don’t really participate much in it. As a student it’s infinitely more convenient for me to by-pass the local drudgery and politics and shoot songs online before I dip to my Asian Philosophy course.
“Nas’ Illmatic is the greatest rap album of all time. That’ll probably be my #1 lyrical inspiration. Nas is not my favorite rapper by any means, nor has he ever been. But Illmatic is a perfect album, flawless, his style on that album is beyond me still.”
AN: Your real name is Rory Ferreira, but you perform under the nom de plume, Milo. Where did the name come from?
Milo: Pulling out my government name! Okay, I can dig. Rap names are important. Without breaking into a really long treatise on language and how it maps the human reality, let me say that anyone who is trying to create realities should really think about names. Milo comes from The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster which is a neat book that you read once every 8 years or so and have a nice introspective moment to. Milo is this sort of every-person character who finds all the things boring. He’s taken on this adventure of wicked tasty wordplay and comes back all the better for it. I feel like Milo.
AN: Tell me about your project I wish my brother Rob was here. What was the initial story behind it?
Milo: A friend of mine drowned in a public pool this past Summer. I was working on a tape prior to that, and when it happened I couldn’t really find anything substantial I could do to make my world feel better. So I scrapped the tape I was developing and started working on this one, which I sort of co-opted the name from Del’s debut cut. All the recording, mixing, and mastering was done by myself in my room at school… and it was pretty rushed. I found the beats online, mostly through forums, and they were ones that typically rap dudes had shimmy’d away from. Which made them instantly attractive. I tried my hardest to double and triple credit the producers I borrowed from or edited from, but it’s surprising how many people think I produced the mixtape. If I had it would have cost you the big bucks– like, General Tso’s Tofu money.
AN: Were you surprised with the initial support the project has received?
Milo: Overwhelmed would be the word I’d use. Especially when the emails started pouring in. Reading about cats the world over who had dealt with a lot of the same mental blocks I have, or social stigmas and how these people felt equally neglected by contemporary music. The blog stuff is cool, and obviously that’s how people find out about the tape. I’m eternally grateful to those taste-makers who gave my tape a chance and subsequently set pace for other blogs to catch up. But really, the most significant and surprising aspect of this project has been the individual interaction with other *nerdy* people.
“I think there is definitely a place for nerdcore, and I love a lot of the stuff coming out of that camp, but there also needs to be a place where we can genuinely express the frustration of always being at odds with the majority of the people around us without making appeals to cartoonish behaviors.”
AN: What’s your definition of NERD hop?
Milo: See, that was the first genre I was operating under. But now, I’d say it’s more like self help hop/computerized soul folk. Which are two titles a pal of mine sent me from an art exhibit in Chicago. Anyway, Nerd-Hop is similar to nerdcore but instead of making caricatures of nerdiness or awkwardness or intelligence I feel like nerd hop is a more genuine depiction. But I don’t mean to pick on my brothers operating under the nerdcore moniker, which is why I’ve since graduated into the aforementioned two. I think there is definitely a place for nerdcore, and I love a lot of the stuff coming out of that camp, but there also needs to be a place where we can genuinely express the frustration of always being at odds with the majority of the people around us without making appeals to cartoonish behaviors. Pardon me if that in anyway comes off as egotistical. I’m not saying I’ve perfected what I’m talking about, but I am aware of what I want to do and am trying to achieve that. No shade on anyone else’s marmalade.
AN: You are a DIY advocate with a strong focus on computer driven work, how do you juggle wearing multiple hats and taking care of your craft?
Milo: To me they are all part of the same craft which is this quest to find Truth. I’m from a heavily video game influenced generation, obviously, and especially within MMORPGs such as Ultima Online, the quest never ended. It was indefinite. I think that the DIY aspect comes out of that because it gives me an opportunity to be more honest. When I’ve been in studios with other people, I feel myself conforming and that’s not at all what I want for Milo projects. Eventually I’d like to get to the point where a Milo tape is completely done in-house by myself, but I need to hone my beatsmithy before that point. To recap: I’m not convinced that there are multiple hats and crafts, it all sort of falls under this umbrella of trying to find genuine, honest expression that doesn’t sell itself short. Now I’m going to pull my head out of my own fancy-aesthetic arsehole, so to speak.
AN: Who are some of your lyrical inspirations?
Milo: Great writing. I read a lot of philosophy and I tend to be long winded because of that. Schopenhauer is a tremendous lyrical inspiration. He’s prone to really wicked and wild analogies. David Foster Wallace’s eye for seemingly mundane detail, that’s a major inspiration. Nas’ Illmatic is the greatest rap album of all time. That’ll probably be my #1 lyrical inspiration. Nas is not my favorite rapper by any means, nor has he ever been. But Illmatic is a perfect album, flawless, his style on that album is beyond me still.
AN: What’s next for you?
Milo: Finishing up my next mixtape, Milo takes Baths. Which is me rapping over only Baths instrumentals that I pilfered off the Internet. I’m hoping it makes me more friends than enemies. After that? I’m not too sure. I’d like to get more heavy into production, but it’s difficult because in Northern Wisconsin there are no notable beatsmiths to learn from. So I’m watching a lot of YouTube tutorials and whatnot, making slow but steady headway. This is all still pretty new to me. Trying to open dialogue with some label folks, and balance a decent GPA, basically.
AN: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Milo: As banal as it is everytime I read this when some other person says it: support weirdo creations. Keep it funky at all times.