Truancy Volume 96: Rook Milo

It’s time for the 96th installment of our Truancy Volume series and we’re ecstatic to have secured the services of 22 year old Canadian Rook Milo for the task. A celebrated maestro in the more emotional circles of Soundcloud, Rook first came to our attention when he was earmarked by previous TV-contributor Ryan Hemsworth as one to keep an ear out for in an article for Interview Magazine. It would probably be fair to say that Ryan indirectly puts us on to a whole heap of great underground artists, but this guy in particular struck a chord. Back at the release of “Cobalt Polo”, the particular track that was flagged up, young Rook’s signature was a dazzling hip-hop, placing somewhere between the Glaswegian LuckyMe giants and L.A. Brainfeeder beat gurus. Since then his sound has very much matured. The most notable examples, his remixes of Drake’s “The Language” and Travi$ Scott’s “Upper Echelon” are more spatially aware, almost desolate with only the occasional underlying supernova; certainly not of this world.

The mix itself encompasses all of the above in just short of an hour. The first half is somewhat indulgent in its own beauty, packed full of unreleased material from your boy Rook and a few of his influential friends, leading in to a power half hour of sorts, featuring big hitters such as Lil Durk, Waka Flocka and Ty Dolla $ign. We also managed to catch a few words, tackling his ASL Singles Club affiliation, the Vancouver music scene and the struggle of finding a suitable moniker in this day and age that hasn’t been taken by somebody making “punchy EDM shit”.

Hey man! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! How are things? “No sweat, things have been really good for me this past year – pretty much since last may everything’s fallen into place.” I wanted to start off with some background stuff. I guess this is one of your first interviews, if not the very first! Would you give us a few words of introduction? “Yeah man, feeling pretty blessed for that to be with Truants. I guess the basics are that I’m 22, living in Vancouver, B.C (s/o Canada) and I’ve been making tracks since 2012-ish.”

You’re at university, right? What are you studying? “This is true. Right now I’m attending Emily Carr (ECUAD) rolling into a design program, hopefully eventually learning this and that about print design once things get going next September. I’m working as somewhat of a graphic intern for a shoe company right now and learning from school at the same (damn) time.” So are you set on doing that in the long run and having music as a fun thing to do on the side, or vice versa? “Right now I could see myself making a living off graphic design and enjoying it, but I really don’t know this early on. Honestly, I can’t really see myself making solo music more than a hobby – financially I’m dreaming that one day I can just produce for vocalists and rappers, seems like there’s room for that nowadays without losing yourself behind the artists. S/O Rich Homie Quan.”

Your Tumblr‘s really impressive!  It’s all your own work, right? I’d imagine the audio/visual combination is something that’s particularly important to you. “Thank you :^) !! Mostly, I’d say it’s all either me or something that includes me by my friends. I’ve always had a thing for producers that pair great music with an equally appealing image, definitely something I want to progress with through video work because at the moment I’m just making cover art.”

Would you talk a little about what inspired you to start producing and what those first few steps were like? “Well, I grew up in a city called Kelowna that’s about four and a half hours away from Vancouver in-land, and outside of being known as a dubstep hotbed there wasn’t much inspiration for me there. I really started making music as most do, listening to a bunch of good music that my friends and I all bounced off each other and thinking “Hey maybe I could make this shit.” Beat scene stuff from L.A. in like 2008 got everybody I knew real excited, and it was probably around then that I started collecting gear and messing around, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I started actively working on things and trying to get better.”

Stream: Drake – The Language (Rook Milo Remix)

As I understand it, you put some of your earlier music out under the name of Mosey. Any particular reason for the change? “I was using a bunch of funny names before I settled on Rook Milo – Gully Mane, Coombs, and Softgram just to name a few. Mosey was the product of so much trial and error that I felt relieved to finally have something I enjoyed to call my own, but right as I was getting ready to commit to it I found a popular French guy who had been using the name for some punchy EDM shit or something. Either way I was bummed and spent about two weeks thinking about something to replace it. I switched to Rook Milo right when things started happening, and it seemed like people liked it and I’m always reminded of Baby Milo by Bape which is a nice touch.”

We just noticed that your remix of Drake has nearly 200,000 listens on Soundcloud, which is incredible! That must be pretty encouraging for you as a relative newcomer? “As much as that’s been exciting and motivating I get a bit nervous for the pressure to follow up – mostly just siked about it though. Praise to all the people out there supporting your boy, real tho.”As well as that, you’re getting a lot of support from other artists! Ryan Hemsworth, DJ Slow and Ta-Ku have all put your stuff in their mixes. These are all people I’d imagine you look up to? “I get really excited whenever I see an artist I listen to follow up on what I’m doing – always making sure to get that screenshot for the collection haha. S/O Ryan Hemsworth though, he’s been the biggest push for me for sure. I’m hoping that one day I’ll get a chance to help somebody out like he’s helped me.”

Following on from that, I’d be really interested to hear about your influences. There’s obviously a strong hip-hop element, but some of your stuff, like the ASL release, suggests different, electronic genres come into play too. What sort of stuff would you say you’re inspired by? “Things changed since my first EP called 2ko which had four songs, and of that only “Cobalt Polo” and “Luxury Sedan” are out now. I was on that glistening, heartfelt dance-trap whatever tip just trying to fit in on Soundcloud. Back then I was all about something that basically just sounded light and fun, but now I’ve grown into darker industrial stuff for some reason. The biggest thing that’s changed for me is tempo – where I was mostly working and listening to stuff from 120 – 140 it’s moved to 110-130.”

One thing I’ve picked up is that your music tends to be pretty emotionally charged. Outland and Cobalt Polo in particular have this really strong sense of longing in them. Is that something you’re conscious of when writing? “Cobalt Polo was my first lil hit so I’ve gotta respect it, but I’m really over that sound (it’s off my Soundcloud, sorry people). I wouldn’t say that with that song I was trying to make something emotional, but I’m definitely trying to push some feels with both Outland and my new stuff. Sad boy music just seems easier to convey than some happy-go-lucky stuff.”

Another thing that comes to mind is that you have this ability to take samples that are already fairly well known and flip them so that they sound really fresh. The same goes for your remixes too. How do you go about choosing the source material for these? Is it pretty intuitive? “Sampling for me sits somewhere between recording some kitchen sink type sounds and just messing around with fairly recognizable percussion – a nice blend of unique and familiar. That’s just the kind of stuff I enjoyed from artists when I was getting into production, so it’s something I value to carry on in my own way. I think things like pieces from rap acapellas or vocal stabs keep people interested when they hear your song the second time around, something to anticipate I guess.”

Stream: Travi$ Scott – Upper Echelon (Rook Milo Remix)

Canada’s a big hotbed for breaking a lot of great new artists right now. What’s the music scene in Vancouver like? Is there anybody in particular we should be on the look out for? “It’s fairly diverse, and definitely not oversaturated so there’s lots of room for new artists. I’m loving it because I grew up in a town with basically no electronic scene at all, and yeah bruh, the fam’s out here – both audio and visual need to get mentioned. On the music side there’s Project Pablo and Heartbeat(s) both doing their part making that good house music, Oshea Adams and Evy Jane with serious vocals, Sangnoir doing big things on the come up, the homie Darko Boy making that raw shit and like a ton more. On the visual side I gotta s/o my boy who’s making all the footage from my shows so far, my dude Chef aka DJ Boogie Man on his graphic game, and the man Shun Kinoshita pushing his brand MMVIII.”

You’re pretty heavily involved with those guys from the ASL Singles Club, right? How did that all come about? “I’ve been rolling with them playing shows in Vancouver ever since I met Project Pablo (then 8prn) on Soundcloud half a year before I move here. I kicked around their studio space quite a bit and we’d always link up to catch whatever show was going on at the weekends. The dudes running it are Project Pablo, Heartbeat(s) and Chef – doin big things pushing for diversity in their label. For the most part I’ve always just kicked alongside them as part of the fam but on the label side I’m not very involved, outside of playing ASL shows together and my release back in November.”

Let’s talk a little about the mix you’ve done for us! What can you tell us about it? “As far as content it’s got a bunch of unreleased shit, a couple from friends and lots from me. The intro is a lil improvised beat I made right in the set because I was trying to mix in a remix I made as the second song but couldn’t find anything that would work. Other than that it’s basically split in two, with some smoother stuff in the first half and some heavier things in the second.” How do you find doing mixes, both like this and in a DJ set, in comparison with producing? “Making this mix was hella fun because I was trying different ways of blending stuff, more comparable to producing because I had access to my usual toolkit. At the moment I try to keep my sets fairly straight forward – mixing without much improvisation. DJing is still kinda new for me, so I keep it to the basics so as not to mess up, haha.”

What do you have planned for the upcoming months? More shows, releases? We also noticed you did some work with Yung Braised a while back. Is there some more work with rappers/vocalists on the cards? “So much new shit it’s exciting. I’m sitting on so much stuff I need to put things out before I get sick of all of it! Some remixes for sure, but more importantly is an EP with my friend Shun Kinoshita and his brand that I mentioned earlier – we’re doing my first release party and I’m so siked for it. I’ve also got a wonderful song with my dude Oshea Adams on the vocals and some other things that are under wraps for now!”

Finally, some old favourites of ours. What’s your favourite drink and when was the last time you danced? “I’d have to say Jameson and ginger ale w/ lime, that one’s the Kelowna homie house special, and I danced like 10 minutes ago with my girl to “Macaroni Time“.”

Stream: Truancy Volume 96: Rook Milo by TRUANTS


Luxsi Young Intro
Rook Milo – Truants Intro
Jeremih – Fuck U All The Time (Acapella)
Rook Milo – rejected beat for Tinashe Unreleased
Arca – 2 Blunted (Slow + Chopped)
Mathbonus – my brain is melting out of my ears and into tomorrow
custom milo synth bells mixed for good measure
Brenmar – Medusa (Falcons Remix) (Slowed) Unreleased
Rook Milo – Outland
Nas – Made You Look (Sangnoir Remix) Unreleased
Ryan Hemsworth – Hurt Me (with Katie Gately) Unreleased
Schoolboy Q – Studio (Promnite Edition)
t.a.T.u – Not Gonna Get Us (Purple Remix)
Ice Underlord – DON’T WASTE MY TIME
Rook Milo – Sleepers Unreleased
Waka Flocka Flame – Word to the Wise
King Louie – Val Venis (Acapella)
Rook Milo – Methadone Unreleased
Lil Durk – Dis Ain’t What U Want
Big Sean – 1st Quarter
Nell – Bust Ya Head Open (Feat. T-Rone, Big Bo & Denzel Curry)
Koopsta Knicca – Whatcha Gonna Do
Ty Dolla $ign – Still Sippin (Feat. Kirko Bangz)
Little Pain – Tommy Strawn
PartyNextDoor – Wild Bitches
Travi$ Scott – Don’t Play (Feat. Big Sean)
Luxsi Young Outro
Darko Boy – Bloodsport

Matt Coombs