The universe is making music all the time

Step Right Up: Monochromie

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Interview with Wilson Trouvé, Monochromie.

“I need music all the time. As Nietzsche has written, “life without music would be a mistake.” Music is the only universal way to express something beyond words. To me, words cannot replace sounds and melodies.”

—Wilson Trouvé

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


Monochromie is the alias for Marseilles-based artist, Wilson Trouvé. The highly gifted pianist and composer is responsible for a plethora of gorgeous releases, home to such treasured independent labels as Time Released Sound and Fluttery Records. The studio albums ‘Colors In The Dark’ (Time Released Sound) and ‘Enlighten Yourself When You Sleep’ and ‘Angels and Demons’ (Fluttery Records) are beautiful ambient-based works that effortlessly explore worlds of neoclassical, post-rock and ambient spheres of sound. The latest full-length, ‘Colors In The Dark’ – a limited edition containing a set of 4 square prints made from spray stenciled and collaged sheets of vintage wallpaper – reveals the French artist’s latest chapter of discerning piano-based instrumental music. Much like Trouvé’s earliest musical influences, namely Chopin – who would serve a recurrent theme for Trouvé’s childhood at the hands of his loving parents – Monochromie’s music sculpts sounds and feelings that in turn, captures deep, unwavering emotion.

My first introduction to the music of Monochromie was the utterly beautiful piece of music, entitled ‘Old Times’, taken from ‘Colors In The Dark’. An equally mesmerising video (a compilation of Super 8 images from Trouvé’s childhood) accompanies the transcendent piano-based sonic creation. The meandering piano melody evokes cherished memories, childhood, and the passing of time, as a vivid sense of nostalgia is etched across a canvas of forgotten sound. An endless warmth diffuses across the soft and graceful piano melodies that shares the warmth of a loved one or beloved relative; a father and son, two brothers, young siblings. ‘Old Times’ distills special moments of childhood – universal and deeply touching – that transports the listener to an entire ‘other’ world and frontier. Like all invaluable art, the result is a timeless body of work that unfolds into something personal, and resonates powerfully; exuding deep emotion in all its glorious shades and textures. ‘Colors In The Dark’ immerses you into a highly emotive sonic voyage that feels both familiar and unknown.

Trouvé began working on ‘Colors In The Dark’ towards the end of 2012, where the artist would compose many songs at the same time. Some of these pieces of music would find their way on ‘Enlighten Yourself While You Sleep’ (a title that wonderfully encapsulates Monochromie’s crystalline sounds), and others would later appear on ‘Colors In The Dark’. All the songs were recorded at home with the primary objective being to create something spontaneous and authentic. Reference points are manifold; from the likes of Sigur Rós and Godspeed You! Black Emperor to Chopin, Satie, Schubert, and Eno. ‘Colors In The Dark’ was mastered by Wil Bolton. The musical world conjured up by Trouvé evolves into an ultimately cathartic experience that forever expands new horizons. Having several accomplished records already under his breath, I look forward immensely to hearing what avenues Monochromie ventures down next.


‘Colors In The Dark’ is out now on Time Released Sound.


Interview with Wilson Trouvé, Monochromie.

Congratulations on the new album ‘Colors In The Dark’. It is a beautiful journey of piano-based ambient flourishes. Please discuss this album and the recording process. It is a lovely latest chapter in your songbook.

Thank you. I began working on Colors In The Dark in the end of 2012, composing many songs in the same time, some of them would finally take place on Enlighten Yourself While You Sleep (Fluttery Records, 2013) and the others on Colors In The Dark (Time Released Sound). I have recorded all songs at home, with few instruments, a Zoom H4n used for recording noises and others sounds to mix with piano notes. I often use few instruments to compose and sculpt sounds and feelings. I always search the quicker way to express myself although I work hard and slowly to compose my musical pieces. I am a quite perfectionist.

I don’t need many instruments to create something, as a painter doesn’t need too much brushes to paint and mix colors together on a canvas. I think sometimes technique is an obstacle to create something spontaneous and authentic, and to capture ephemeral feelings, images or mood. Ballade is a special one, there are only sounds taken from my main instrument; a piano. Three layers of piano recorded in three times, and then mixed together.  Some melody parts on Childhood or Łódź have been composed and recorded during a stay in Poland, playing on pianos that i found in different places.


Can you please bring me back to your musical upbringing, and your memories of first playing the piano? How has your technique developed or changed over the years?

When I was a little boy, I used to hear Chopin a lot at my parents home. It was my first piano experience and maybe my first approach of melancholy or sadness in some way. I was listening to many classical pianists while i discovered artists such as Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre, and other electronic sound artists. That’s how I have grown as a listener and finally as a musician.
I learnt to play the keyboard when I was 7 or 8 years old, that’s why I am not able to play the piano like a real pianist. My approach of the piano is a different kind.


I adore the piano piece ‘Old Times’, where a beautiful sense of nostalgia and passing of time radiates off the piano notes. Discuss this composition? The music video is also stunning; matching the melody so perfectly. Beautiful.

Thank you. The first layer of ‘Old Times’ was composed 10 years ago! It is an electronic loop that slowly moves away with a progressive delay. I have composed it with my old MC303 Groovebox and a SP505 Roland.
I didn’t know what to do with that loop. Ten years later, I finally found what I really wanted to express with that first layer. I added piano notes and other sounds to compose ‘Old Times’. The music video is a compilation of Super8 images from the time I was a child. This song is very special to me, it is about passing of time, memories and nostalgia.


You have experimented with many genres of sound, where ambient lies at the heart of it all. What has served the biggest inspiration – records/artists etc – for the pursuit of your art?

I was influenced by many genres of sound and artists. I really like Chopin and Schubert, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Erik Satie… I often listen to Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, also Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Sigur Rós…In fact, I listen to many artists. I need music all the time. As Nietzsche has written, “life without music would be a mistake.”

Music is the only universal way to express something beyond words. To me, words cannot replace sounds and melodies. In fact, my biggest inspiration is in nature, such as landscapes, sky and its different sorts of clouds and lights, sunset colors, and during the night when I think about all those things and when I compose.


Please talk me through the parallel and symbiosis that exists for you between the various mediums of art you’re involved with?

Actually, I don’t think there are links between what I do as visual artist and what I compose as a musician. Those are two very different languages. But maybe there is something that crosses through each language and put them together to form a kind of coherent unity. There may be something that connects those two languages, somewhere between sounds and images.


‘Colors In The Dark’ is out now on Time Released Sound.



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