Bob Kabeya also known on stage as Miloe performs one of his most popular songs, “Winnona” during his opening act at Thalia Hall on Feb. 2nd. (Amber Stoutenborough)
Bob Kabeya also known on stage as Miloe performs one of his most popular songs, “Winnona” during his opening act at Thalia Hall on Feb. 2nd.

Amber Stoutenborough

Midwest made, seen worldwide : Up-and-coming artist Miloe visits Thalia Hall

February 5, 2023

Bob Kabeya isn’t just another 22-year-old who grew up in the Midwest. Under his stage name “Miloe”, Kabeya has produced songs with over 7 million plays on Spotify, had an opening act tour with The 1975 and an upcoming solo tour in the United Kingdom.

On Feb. 2, Miloe performed in front of a full house at Thalia Hall in Pilsen.

Kabeya was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and moved with his family to Minneapolis. When he was 8 years old, Kabeya started playing the drums in a middle school band and from there focused most of his time on music. 

“I joined a band in like seventh grade, and I feel like that really solidified what I wanted to do and what I envisioned for myself,” Kabeya said. “I’ve gotten lucky in like, 1000 ways. But I’ve just put all my efforts towards this.”

While Kabeya’s traces his musical aspirations back to the pews of a church in Congo. His performing career began with a middle school talent show and a favor for a friend. 

“My friend Ferguson walked up to me during lunch and he was like, ‘Yo, you play drums?’” Kabeya said. “And I was like, ‘What about it?’ And he asked me to play the talent show. He was in eighth grade, and it was his last chance to make a mark in middle school. And so and then it continued into high school. And then by senior year, I started writing music. I mean, that’s kind of how it evolved.” 

In high school, Kabeya continued with band but also played in church and an outside of school guitar club.  

“When I went to join my high school, my friend was in a club called guitar club. But it was just him and the janitor, just doing riffs at each other. I joined in on drums, and then it became a rock band club,” Kabeya said. “And then because it was a club with three people, they gave us money to buy a real drum set. I was probably going to be a soccer kid, too, but I would always end up on benches, so I committed to music instead.”

From there, Kabeya started to produce his own music under the name “Miloe”, a brazen tribute to the Coldplay indie pop album “Mylo Xylo” that he listened to a lot in eighth grade.

Lillie Mills, a Minnesota native who moved to Chicago for college, has been following Miloe since her junior year of high school.

“I remember all of my friends and I hearing about him, and I love supporting local artists,” Mills said. “Having him here in Chicago almost feels like bringing a piece of home with me and I’m so proud of where he’s gone.”

Amaya Peña, one of Miloe’s photographers, met Kabeya back in Nov. 2021 in the Minneapolis local music scene. The two quickly became friends through shared love of making music and photography. 

“He asked me to do a shoot for him for his last vinyl cutter,” Peña said. “We did some more shoots here and there and then he asked me to do The 1975 tour with him so it’s all been a blur from there.”

‘I’ve worked with a lot of artists just like in Minneapolis obviously, but I will say it’s easier to work with somebody you’re friends with and not just somebody you’re getting paid to take pictures for,” Peña said.

While the music scene in Minneapolis is ever-growing according to Peña, she remembers hearing about Miloe back in 2019 when his first EP came out. 

“Entering the Minneapolis scene, I feel like Bob was kind of like the small artist in 2019,” Pena said. “Everybody knows someone who knows someone who knows each other, but everybody knows about Miloe, and I wasn’t able to see his show yet but I heard so many great things about his live performances.”

Working with Miloe since 2021, Peña followed along for many of the pivotal moments in Kabeya’s career. 

“There’s been so many great moments, like when Bob got a tattoo during The 1975 tour and Matt Healy was comforting him through it,” Peña said. “I never thought I would be hanging out with the lead singer of The 1975 before, so that was really cool.”

Next for Miloe is a UK tour before coming back to work on his next album. 

“I can’t say too much, but I have so much planned for the next couple of years,” Kabeya said “I’m really excited for what’s to come and I am so grateful for all the support I have.” 

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