TheColorGrey, better known as Will Michiels, has taken the Belgian R&B and hip hop scene by storm. He quietly introduced himself 2 years ago by dropping smooth songs like ‘Antwerp Girls’ and ‘Ain’t No Way’. Those songs sparked a genuine interest throughout the country, and more people kept finding out about Will’s music. “I grew up in a household where everybody was listening to a lot of music, a lot of different styles. My brother was into making music himself and when he left the house he gave me his keyboard. I was 9 years old back then. Of course, it didn’t sound good from the start. I never went to music school but watched tons of YouTube tutorials instead.” Those where the layers of creating a musical world of his own, similar to those of Oddisee and Mick Jenkins. Now, let's get up close and personal with TheColorGrey.
How did you come up with the name?
“My grandfather gave me a book when I was 16, and it was the first one that I really read. One character said: 'people aren’t black or white, they are grey. There is always good in bad and the other way round'. That made me think about life so I felt in-between - or grey. Another interpretation is more personal, the grey zone. Because people think I am a mysterious figure and they wonder what it is that I do.”
When did you start to take 'making music' more seriously?
“It was when I started studying Journalism. I thought it was OK, but I really wanted to do something with music, so I gathered all my courage and made an EP. It was a long and hard process, because I didn’t really have the equipment or a label. I did it on my own. Before that I would drop a random track on a Sunday and the comments were always positive. That’s what initally made me take it more serious”
How did you end up adding live elements into your show?
"I've always been a fan of live jazz shows, and I really wanted to integrate that in my music. Five years ago I met a guitar player, and we were like: “damn, we should make music together.” So I went to his place and we kicked it right off the bat.”
We saw that you made a track with Oddisee.
“I’ve been a big fan of him since 2012. I was that guy who always commented on his Instagram posts, so when I got to do the warm-up up for him in VK, he recognized me. We started talking and he told me to hit him up if I ever needed something. I never dared to ask him, but when he heard the original track he made a verse for it.”
Recently, you were named Artist in Residence at Trix Antwerp. Where do they help you with?
“The people at Trix let me use their studio and rehearsal space, which is a great upgrade when you’re used to making music at home. If you want to record live instruments, it’s essential to have such a space. I made my debut album just in my bedroom.”
Back in May this year, you dropped your debut album ‘Rebelation’. How did the crowd take it?
“My friends thought it was great and the single got quite some attention too, I was positive about it. But seeing that De Morgen gave it four stars… damn. Something like that straight up takes you off guard. The other reviews were positive too and the following keeps on growing. I’m very happy with it.”
We've heard that at your album release party in Trix, people already seemed to know your lyrics.
“It was a great experience. First we planned to do it in the bar but that sold out so quickly that we moved the show upstairs to the Club. It’s the best feeling if people actually buy a ticket for your show. People sang the lyrics with me, which was great. They also did that at Pukkelpop. Amazing.”
Your Rebelation tour last summer took you to the a lot of festivals all over Belgium. What do you think was your best set?
“Couleur Café was definitely nice, but I was there as a part of Niveau 4, there’s a difference between doing a 45 minute set or just 3 tracks. So I would say Pukkelpop was my best when it comes to me being solo on stage.”
Your debut album is called Rebelation. Who or what did you rebel against?
“Rebelation is a mixture of rebel and revelation. Because dropping your first real project is always a revelation. It has a very personal touch to it, both production wise and lyrically. I showed some very different sides to myself. And I would say I’m a rebel because being in the music industry is hard sometimes, you know. Certain people want you to manoeuver in certain directions, or tell you how to do things, and I just don’t want that. I want to do my own thing and not bow my head, even if that means that I have to work 10 years longer for being able to live off my music.”
New EP 'Between Phases' is out now.
Head over to the man's Facebook page for more details and updates.
Catch TheColorGrey live at: