Wilson Trouvé combines tradition and personality to form a contemporary evocation of the night.

Malam is the Indonesian word for night. As musical inspirations go, the night is an old muse. The idea that music can be created specifically for or to evoke night has been a tradition in Classical Music since John Field wrote the first Nocturne in 1812. Frédéric Chopin, who popularized the nocturne, created 21 of them. Debussy composed three, Satie six…and so on. Malam is not a nocturne, at least not by academic standards. However, Malam by Wilson Trouvé shares the same spirit and it carries forward a long tradition of music influenced by the power of night.

Why do you think the night is such a potent inspiration in the history of classical music?

I’m not sure if the night, as an object, is a potent inspiration for composers. I’d say that night itself is a unique and genuine place where you can find inspiration by reflecting on what you have been dealing with during the day. The night is an island from which you may distance yourself from everyday life. It’s a filter that allows you to discard or keep influences that are needed for inspiration. Under the moniker Monochromie, I have composed most of my albums at night. I like composing music when I’m tired, melancholic, and full of thoughts to translate into music. During the day I am blind in a way because it’s harder to grasp the pure feelings and essential emotions you need to compose music. Deep feelings and insights are polluted by daily news and events. The night allows you to look far beyond those sources of pollution.

I think a composer needs to preserve themselves from distractions and superficial needs. As a starting point, a composer needs to dive into abstraction, a kind of fog of blurry or melted thoughts. It’s a part of being a human being. You feel and think differently at night. It’s a powerful moment when you can focus on creating melodies, chords, and textures. Composing at night makes music genuine and gorgeously alive.

An evocation of the night.

Debussy departed with the traditions established by Chopin to create a nocturne based specifically on what the night looked like. His Nocturnes attempted to capture the visual quality of impressionist night paintings by James Whistler. The result was an explosive and energetic symphony. Wilson Trouvé is a bit like Claude Debussy. They don’t sound similar but they both come at the subject matter from a unique direction. Malam is not a representation of the night nor is it a lullaby meant to help you sleep. Wilson Trouvé’s music emerges from the experience and solitude of the night.

Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket, James Abbot McNeill Whistler, 1875, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit.

Do you think composing and recording at night influenced the peaceful quality of your sound?

It’s an interesting question. When composing at night I usually use earphones so I don’t wake up the family and neighborhood. However, I usually mix during the day using earphones (Seenheiser HD-25) and speakers (Yamaha HS5). I am more sensitive and receptive to the quality of sound when using earphones. They submerge me into a world of sound and frequency. When I compose music at night using earphones, nothing distracts me.

In fact, at night I think of myself as an instrument. I forget about my body. I am made of pure sound. Nothing distracts me. I compose music until I start falling asleep at my instruments. There are no disturbing sounds that prevent me from diving deep into the sea of sound. Perhaps my only distraction is keeping an eye on the baby monitor to make sure my daughter is sleeping well. That’s all.

Malam is a musical artifact born from the night.

Listening to Malam produces the type of feeling that only comes in the late hours of the evening when you’re allowed to discard life’s many responsibilities. Like a good sleep, Trouvé’s music has a regenerative quality. He produces this effect through a reductive palette stripped of superfluous sound and distractions. It is quiet and understated, never becoming overly complex or challenging. The nine tracks contain a handful of ideas rendered in a simple yet beautiful form with piano, strings, and subtle electronics. Trouvé gives the listener space to contemplate the abstract quality of his ideas and find peace in the gentle rhythm and melody.

The confidence of Trouve’s sound stems from his family and those he loves.

Wilson Trouvé talks about his music in refreshingly personal terms. For example, he describes composing and recording his music in the spare moments between parenting duties, usually late at night while his wife and daughter sleep. The album title Malam is credited to his wife, a native Indonesian who suggested the title. Trouvé composing into the late hours conveys a uniquely genuine and unpretentious picture. It’s clear that Malam is a labor of love and its humble inception translates to its sound.

What role does your personal life play in your art? Has fatherhood influenced the way you compose music?

My daughter indirectly brings wisdom, serenity, joy, and happiness in my life. Being a father is a big responsibility but it is also utterly rewarding. I push myself further and do everything better as a father, teacher, husband, artist, and composer because nothing compares to taking care of a newborn. Raising a child has given me an infinite source of patience, perseverance, self-confidence. It changes your perception of everything. Since my daughter was born, I feel a new kind of willingness, desire, and energy whenever I play. I find that my music is more alive than ever.

My wife, parents, brother, sister and good friends have also continuously supported me as a visual artist and a composer. I’ve been a creative person for many years. I chose art and music as my main language when I was very young because words are tricky for me. They lead to misunderstanding. I believe that art, music, and poetry connect us. Bridges are built from art and music, color, form, sound, and texture. Music is intimately linked to who we are and what we may have forgotten as human beings. Sound is permanent and everywhere. You can close your eyes but not your ears.

By the way, I have recently started working on a new piano album which will be called Albertine, my daughter’s name. I hope to release it soon. Sometimes she plays the piano with me despite her very early age. I would love her to play the piano or any other instrument in the future. However, she will be free to choose and do what she wants.

No matter how contemporary a piece of new music may seem, it will always evoke some form of tradition and history. All music is embodied with what came before it, especially classical music. The potent tension between the old and the new is what makes the Contemporary Classical genre so special. Wilson Trouvé’s music is no exception because it evokes the great tradition of the classical nocturne albeit on personal and contemporary terms. Malam aligns with traditions of classical night music while simultaneously fostering a personal sound that is colored by the perspective and life circumstance of the composer.

Support and learn more about Wilson Trouvé at his website.

All music written, performed, and recorded by Wilson Trouvé, winter 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. 

Mastered by Will Bolton

Photography by Laura Michelle

Published by Phantom Limb.