James Blake signs on as the first Rhodes ambassador for the new MK8 electric piano

James Blake Rhodes
(Image credit: Rhodes)

The original Fender Rhodes electric pianos were played by all manner of jazz, soul, funk, rock and pop greats, but the first ambassador for the new MK8 model is an appropriately contemporary choice.

Electronic explorer James Blake is the artist in question; as well as releasing six studio albums of his own, he’s also worked with the likes of Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar and Bon Iver. Announcing the partnership, Rhodes said that it’s “honoured to become a facilitator of James' incredible musical journey”. 

Blake previously told Billboard that he’s a fan of Arturia’s Rhodes-emulating Stage-73 V plugin, but revealed that he doesn’t always use it in the most conventional manner.

“I turned the percussive sounds of the Rhodes up super high, and it makes this crazy sound,” he says. “That’s a tip for anyone who wants to make a strange sound with one of these - turn up the sound of the mallet all the way and that becomes its own strange thing.”

Whether he’ll recapture that spirit of sonic adventure when playing his MK8 remains to be seen.

Rhodes has also revealed that one of the first MK8s to leave its factory has now arrived with British producer Steve Levine. Levine took to Instagram to celebrate its safe arrival.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.