In the intimate setting of Notting Hill Arts Club, amidst a kaleidoscope of pink, purple, and blue light, the embodiment of authentic cool, Rainy Milo, made a much-anticipated return to the live stage.

It may have been over a year since Rainy Milo’s last live performance; however, the South London native channeled the confidence of a seasoned professional as she made her way to the fore. Emerging from a voile facade, which graphically presented the opening credits for the commencing production, Milo melodically echoed lines from “The Other Way.” Greeting the audience of family, friends, and fans, the singer-songwriter spoke of the show as an extended 21st birthday celebration, before basking in blue to perform her latest release, “Swimming on Me.”

Rainy Milo performing at Notting Hill Arts Club, 2016. Photo by Jamal George-Sharpe

Rainy Milo performing at Notting Hill Arts Club, 2016. Photo by Jamal George-Sharpe

Displaying the artistic growth gained since her last onstage appearance, Rainy Milo delivered an eclectic set of jazzy neo-soul sounds grounded in gritty London cool. Accompanied by three dancers, Milo tackled moves choreographed by Jason Thanh Nguyen, reminiscent of the greatest ´90s girl groups. Rainy Milo was out to establish herself as a multifaceted artist and a dynamic performer.

It was at 16 when the then BRIT School student first made waves with the posting of “’Bout You” online. Ever since, Milo has amassed an ever-growing digital following with every release, a following attracted not only to her alluring melodies and conscious lyrics, but to her style too, as displayed on Tumblr (in its prime) and later Instagram. For Rainy Milo, the internet provided a platform for self-establishment, and a medium to cultivate and engage with a public unbounded by geography.

Rainy Milo in studio. Photo source:  Tumblr.

Rainy Milo in studio. Photo source: Tumblr.

Beyond being a South London songstress, Rainy Milo’s rise is illustrative of how embodiment takes place within music. She is among emerging artists today who have established their musical and artistic identity in a manner that aligns with the multimodal theory of embodiment. This theory involves the interdependent relationship of physical experiences, media practices, and social spheres — all of which today’s musicians engage with. Physical experiences are live performances, while media practices are built through custom engagement with traditional, digital, or social media. Social spheres are made up of any sort of public interaction, both offline and online, maintaining a fertile ground for the creative force represented by the artist.

It is through these complementary modes of interaction that artists like Rainy Milo are able to establish their artistic identities, create meaning, and build a niche following. When a defined identity is consistently communicated through these modes, embodiment takes place. As artists evolve over time, so do their communicated identities, as part of an entire universe that surrounds their public presence. Thus, embodiment in music is an ongoing phenomenon, an interplay of creative content and inspiring habitus that shapes the body and mind of the artists and their audience, defining the space in between.

Words: Jamal George-Sharpe

Copy edited by Elena Stanciu