Monophona, a blend of two extremes, electronic and intimate, melodic and innovative. They are based on Luxembourg, and started as the duo of Claudine and Chool, but later Jorsch, the drummer, brought dynamics to the party.
They are currently preparing a set of live concerts promoting their second album “BackonBlack”, after the critically praised debut album “The Spy” released on 2012, garnered international attention; being voted second best album of the year on Ireland’s RTÉ2fm praised by Laurent Garnier as “a real achievement”.
They took some time to attend me and answer some questions, for you all to know better who are behind their “old-school” music.
Triptica: What does mean the name “Monophona”?
Monophona: We spent a long time looking for a name because a lot of names are already taken. Eventually, we decided on Monophona, as we liked the sound of it and thought that it gave you an idea of what kind of music we play.
T: Who are the band members, where do they come come from, what’s their age, and what to they do besides playing music?
M: Chook is 35, he works as a teacher, as do I. I am also 35. Jorsch is 41 and works as a social worker.
T: For each of you: What’s your favorite song ever?
Chook from Monophona: I guess Conflict Maelstrom
Claudine from Monophona: This was my first favourite song. I love this version because some of my favourite singers are on stage together (Glen Hansard, Lisa Hannigan, John Smith…)
Jorsch from Monophona: One of my favourite songs: led zeppelin “dazed and confused”
T: What do you think of categorizing your music as “trip hop”?
M: It’s definitely a reference. When we started the band, our general idea was to do something a little “old-school”, also because we all listened to and liked “trip hop”. But we are not really trying to make trip hop. We try to incorporate all kinds of different influences.
T: What are your main tools to make music? ( Harware, Software, Instruments)
Chook: I’m mainly working in the box with Logic as a sequencer. I use a lot of native instruments stuff, like maschine, monark and the new Komplete Kontrol which I really enjoy.
I’ve been using the access virus for ten years now as well. For mixdowns I mainly use the UAD tools.
Claudine: I use a Fender electric guitar and I have different acoustic guitars (a Cole Clark and a Lowden for recording).
T: You guys already recorded and are promoting your second album. How does it goes? I mean, does album-making really returns money and effort investment?
M: Ehm, no, we don’t actually really make money from it, even though the second album was really well received and gigs were well attended. We’re actually pretty happy when we manage not to loose too much money. It’s an expensive hobby, not a way to make a living, unfortunately.
M: We try to add a little dynamics to the songs during our live shows. It’s the advantage of having a “real” drummer on stage. Also, we have visuals made by the artist Dimitry Zakharov and we hope that they help bring the atmosphere across.
Monophona is playing on the Capital Sounds Club Festival, on Luxemburg, at the CarréRotondes on the 26th july, so if you are around, make sure to attend!
T: What plans does Monophona have for the future?
M: We are working on our third album and we hope that people will like it and that it will help us build our fanbase.
T: Consider this: Someone on NASA has selected your band to include one of your songs on the next Voyager disc. Which one would you choose, and why?
Chook & Jorsch: “Thumb”
Claudine: “The Spy”
T: Being honest, I know nothing about your country. How would you convince me and triptica readers to visit your country and atttend your concert?
We would always encourage you to attend our gigs, no matter where we play 🙂
As to Luxembourg: Our national motto is “Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn”; it means: “We want to stay what we are”. It is a reference to the time in history when the country’s existence was frequently put into question. We are a very small country and for a long time, it seemed impossible that Luxembourg could remain independent.
The historian Gilbert Trausch wrote that we are a country that defines itself through the negative. Most people would have a hard time defining what we actually are. We are a mixture of languages and cultures – we have three official languages and every child learns at least four languages at school. Some people want to embrace this specificity and believe that Luxembourg could serve as a lab for what the world will no doubt look like in a few decades.
We had a referendum a few weeks ago and it showed that – sadly – the majority of Luxembourgers do not feel that way. Although the questions were diverse, most people used the vote to express their rejection of a change that they felt they could not identify with. Luxembourg was always advertised as open-minded – a poster child for integration – and now it rather seems like it might not be quite as simple as that.
I stay here because it is my home, but I do not identify with this country that the majority wishes for. I think the country I really live in is imaginary. It is made up of the movies, the books, the music I love; it’s populated by people who share similar values, no matter whether they live close to me or far away. In the future, people will identify with communities rather than with the regions they happen to be born in. So that imaginary country is the one I’d like to invite you to. This is where we are when we play our concerts. Because it does not matter where we play, the people who come to our concerts are a kind of community that is often more cohesive than the community that happens to live on the same territory.
T: What do you know about my country: Costa Rica? ( and please dont google it 😛 )
Chook: I’m actually planning to come to Costa Rica next year with my wife. We love surfing and we heard you have some amazing waves and warm water there. The country is supposed to be really beautiful as well.
M: And to close… What would you say to your fans all across the world?
We would like to say “Thank you!” Music means a lot to us, so for us it is a great gift to be able to make music and to see that it can mean just as much to other people; people from all over the world. We hope that we can keep making music for a long time and that people will be along for the ride.
Final words from my side: I hope Chook let me know when he comes to Costa Rica! I live near the airport, so maybe you will like a quick tour around the city from a local’s perspective. Also, maybe you could attend one of “Noches de Trip Hop”!!